Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Saying Goodbye


Almost 11 years ago, I adopted Miles from a friend of mine, who's cat just had a litter of kittens. I had just graduated from college, and was living in Rochester, NY, while still working at the college library as a staff member. He was the smallest kitten in the litter and the only black one, and he jumped out to me with his sweet face. The kittens had to be taken from their mother early, since she started lashing out at them and harming them, so Miles and all his brothers and sisters (I think there were 5 or 6 total) came to live with me until they were old enough to go off to their new respective homes. I remember the first night, as I had 5 or 6 baby kittens crawling all over in my bed and Miles would curl up and burrow in my long hair. Ever since then, that was one of his favorite places, cuddling up to me and nuzzled into my hair. You could never hear him purr audibly, only feel it if you were close to him, and it was one of his favorite past times to knead his paws into my neck and head. He moved with me to NYC (although, he came after the summer, since the sublet I moved into didn't allow pets. He stayed with one of my bestest friends in Rochester for the summer until I could find a place that I could bring him to.) 

He had the loudest meow I have ever heard in a cat. He would carry on conversations with me in the kitchen, answering back to me as I mimicked him. Staring out the windows at the birds and setting up camp on top of cardboard boxes were his favorite past-times.  All his toy mice were bound to be lost under the stove or fridge and he would get so excited when I would take the broom out to fish them out for him. It was a great privilege for him to bear his belly for you to pet.  He played fetch with his toy mice and never tired from me tossing them and him running to get them, coming back to me with them in his mouth. I know everyone probably thinks this about their pet, but he was so smart and sweet and just the best, really. Without fail, he would steal my seat if I got up, or would find that my sketchbook I was working on was the perfect nap place. He would jump up on my desk and lay on my arm, restricting me from using my tablet or forcing me to type with my opposite hand. Too cute to move! My little sidekick. 

About a year ago, he was diagnosed with diabetes. It is a common thing in older male cats, and I immediately switched him over to a better, grain-free diet and started giving him insulin shots. Slowly his numbers would start to come down and I was able to start reducing the insulin every few months. But he still was never the same cat that he was before being diagnosed. He stopped playing, and suddenly, he was my old man cat. At the beginning of this year, I started to notice some peculiar symptoms. He would start to pace and walk in circles, and was losing weight like crazy. His blood tests came back a little abnormal. My dear vet gave him an ultrasound about two months ago, and everything in his stomach region was inflamed. His kidneys and liver in particular, and this was something that couldn't be fixed, only controlled.  But still, the pacing. I finally took him to a kitty neurologist a month ago. It was as my vet and I had feared, he also had a brain tumor. My poor sweet-faced kitty, who had never so much as been sick once in his entire life, suddenly caught everything this past year. The brain tumor was pushing on his ocular nerves, effecting his eyesight, sense of direction, and balance very much so.  Everyday it got worse, he would spend his days walking from one end of my apartment to the other, until I would stop him, hold him and he would look so tired as he drifted right off to sleep. Repeat. I decided against putting him through surgery. Perhaps if he didn't have Diabetes or Kidneyitis or other problems, I would have reconsidered. But the dr. said that if everything went perfectly during the surgery, the chemo, the radiation, he still had only 6 months-1 year to live at best.  I chose the route of just making him comfortable. He was put on steroids, which are not typically used in diabetic animals as it really messes with their blood sugar levels. And it did. He lost an additional 2 lbs over the past month and a half (probably about 7 lbs total this past year...), even though he was eating much more than his usual. He stopped using the litter box this past month, and started getting "trapped" in spaces around the apartment. His only real happiness, if you could call it that, would be when I would pick him up and nuzzle him or when he would crawl in bed next to me every night and sleep with me until morning. I knew I would have to make some sort of decision soon, and just concentrated on giving him all the love that I could and to just be present with him. 

The past few weeks have been rough. I no longer felt comfortable leaving him alone for very long, and I'm so very grateful that I work from home and could watch over him. I started waking up in the middle of the night to sounds of him frantically trying to claw out of some trapped space.  The other night I found him asleep in a puddle of his own urine. Nights were bad. This friday night, he had some sort of seizure-like episode and I really thought I was going to lose him then and there. Saturday morning, I made the decision to call the vet to put him down. I barely could say the words and it was the hardest phone call I have ever made in my entire life. Nik and I hugged him and kissed him and tearfully walked over to the vet. I've never had to go through this before. Miles was my family and was with me through thick and thin over the past decade. Saying goodbye to him is heartbreaking and I just feel so so sad. Nik and I keep seeing/feeling him in our apartment. He is everywhere. The saddest is climbing into bed at night and waiting to hear the pitter patter of him coming to join me and curl up next to me. Opening the door to the apartment and he isn't there to greet me and walking by the bed or the couch and not seeing him curled up in a little ball. I've spent the last few days looking through old photos of him, smiling at old memories, and bursting into tears. Repeat. He was such a part of me and my everyday life, that I feel as if I have lost a limb and a piece of me. I can still feel him and hear him and I'm holding onto those memories as tight as I can, as I know time will make them fade.

This should be a happy time. I'm getting married in a few days. He was supposed to join us in the happiness of our little family. He was supposed to go with us to a new home with more space. Running from room to room or into a yard to call our own. Seeing the birds and grass close up and not from a city window. He was supposed to meet any future children and they would love him as I have for so long. It just doesn't seem fair.

Farewell my sweet baby. I will love you forever. 

My little sweet-face.

Boxes. The perfect perch.

Trying to do this...

This was taken about a week ago, and you can see the difference in the size of his pupils. 

Last week. His poor tummy hair never did grow back after his ultrasound a few months back.
This was the last photo I took of him, on friday. My sweet, sweet baby.


  1. The first time I saw a picture of Miles I thought he looked just like my own cat.

    It's always hard to lose a pet, especially one that you've had for so long. Anyone can tell that you gave him a great life and a lot of love.

    Your post was hard to read (and I'm sure it was even harder for you to write) but I hope that in writing it you're able to always remember all the good times.

    I hope you and Nik are able to have a wonderful wedding this weekend. My best to the both of you.

  2. So sorry for your loss, Michelle. Sending you lots of hugs and positive thoughts.

  3. Oh Michelle, I'm so sorry. I can't even imagine how hard this must be, just reading your post made me shed a tear. It's obvious how loved Miles was. I'm sending you a tonne of hugs.

  4. Michelle, so sorry to hear about your loss. My own sweetheart of a black cat loves to nuzzle in my hair and push his arms back and forth into my neck. I know what it's like to love an animal so deeply. {{{hugs}}}

  5. All the hugs. It hurts so much. :(

  6. Sitting here with tears in my eyes. So sorry for your loss. I sometimes wonder why we do this to ourselves, loving someone we know will leave us long before we are ready. But then I think about life without that love, and that's just as unbearable. Wishing you healing, and a tight hold on all your wonderful memories.

  7. Thank you so so much for all the kind words everyone...I've taken great comfort in them. I am just trying to focus on the positive and happy memories of him.

  8. breaks my heart. I'm so sorry Michelle. He had a great life with you and you really did the best for him. I'm glad I got to meet him!