The Long Goodbye
Over the last few weeks, my 16 year old cat Rudy has been failing. Throwing up uncontrollably, losing his appetite and hardly having enough strength to walk up the stairs to our bedroom where he sleeps with my husband and I every night.
Rudy was in all honesty, my first baby. When my husband and I were still dating and moved in together, we brought along two kittens, Rudy and Oliver. Rudy was named for then mayor Rudy Giuliani (I have no idea why) and his brother Oliver was named after the first Manhattan building I ever lived in, the Oliver Cromwell. When we first took the two beautiful Maine Coons home, they were feisty, fast and could easily jump from the floor to the top of my seven foot armoir. But that was 16 years ago - before marriage, before kids and before my cats got old.
Sadly, Oliver passed away five years ago - the same year my dad suffered a heart attack, Oliver was diagnosed with stomach cancer and managed to hang on for a few months until his body gave out on Christmas night. When we buried Oliver down the hill from our home, Rudy watched from the window and you could see how sad he was after losing his brother.
While losing Oliver was hard on us, we were all okay because we still had Rudy - my baby who would sleep on top of my head as a kitten and proceeded to sleep with me every night since. When I was busy writing a blog post or a chapter for one of my books, Rudy was right by my side all the time. In fact, he's with me now too, except now, as I wipe tears from my cheeks, I have to slowly say goodbye to my precious kitty.
After we rushed Rudy to the vet a few weeks ago and he was diagnosed with an overactive thyroid, we thought that all we'd need to do is give him medicine twice daily and he'd be okay. But that was just the beginning. After spending a night at the vet, we took Rudy home and he seemed to have bounced back for a few weeks. But then, just three days ago, he couldn't stop throwing up, lost his appetite completely and was lethargic and sad. My husband took him to the cat hospital at night and then the following morning, we both decided to take Rudy to the vet where he was given an ultrasound to uncover what was wrong with him.
When the vet returned to the room after the ultrasound was complete, I could tell something was wrong. While my husband and I sat in our seats, he crouched down to eye level and broke the news. It appears Rudy has a lymphoma that is ravaging his intestines, liver and kidneys. While we decided not to operate to confirm the results (he's too old for surgery), we opted instead for Rudy to be given medication that could prolong his life - for a few weeks or months.
And so, we wait. We wait for Rudy to get weaker and sicker and contemplate the inevitable. I'm going to have to say goodbye to my beloved cat and I have to say that I am devastated. While my mother in law is the ultimate cat lover, every time she lost a cat (she has 10 of them), I could never understand why she was so upset. Now I do. My very first cat is slipping away before my eyes and I don't want to lose him. At this point, all we can do is pet him, kiss him, care for him and tell him how much we love him. While we may not have that much time left with him, I want him to know that he will forever be in my heart.
Posted in: Blog on 03/14/2012