The grieving process is a roller coaster for sure. The good memories are what keep us together and move us forward.
Today I had to have my nearest and dearest friend Tony put to sleep. He became very sick over the last ten days when his kidneys failed which I have learned is a very common illness in cats; in fact it is the second leading cause of feline death.
Tony came into my life on a winter's day just after Christmas. Peter wanted to check the ice conditions for climbing at Indian Canyon about a mile from our house. When Peter, Anali and I got out of our car we could hear some desperate meowing but we had trouble localizing the sound. We quickly realized that it was coming from high up in the Douglas Fir tree that we were standing under. We called to the poor cat who we estimated was 80' up and he began to use the horizontal branches as steps. We eventually got him close enough that I was able to reach up and grab him out of the tree. He meowed enthusiastically and promptly followed us, leaping from one deep, snowy footprint to the next. It was a short walk and we soon headed back to the car with the cat still following us. When I opened the door he hopped right in and has been my cat ever since(I posted fliers over a wide area and made inquiries but no one claimed him).
He was a large muscular cat initially but soon grew fat with the food we provided. He topped the scale at 18 pounds and at that point we tried limiting his food. However, he supplemented his diet with birds (despite four bells on his collar) and our kittens food when we neglected to put it away.
He had many nick-names such as Dyno-Kitty, Tony Bologna, Jingle Pig and Tony the Tiger. He was even mistaken once for a raccoon!
Most of us have had a pet at one time in our lives that we really deeply connect with; Tony was that animal for me. He would come when I called, jump up to me when I patted my lap and followed me around outside while I worked in the garden or did chores. He was more like a dog in that regard. He also slept with me most nights. He really wasn't afraid of anything which at times got him into trouble but at other times made him really likable. If a new person came into the house, like a plumber or carpet layer, he would rub against his or her leg and make instant friends. He wasn't afraid of the vacuum as long as he was up in a chair. Did I mention his propensity for licking? His tongue was four times as rough as the roughest sandpaper and he really liked to lick. The only way around it was to rub his neck and he would stop trying to get your hand. He immediately made great friends with Jan's kitten, Cloe, and he would lick her as long as she stayed still then she would want to play-fight and Tony would oblige.
My fondest memory of him will always be what he did just a few weeks ago. I was sleeping on my side when I felt a gentle paw on my cheek. He has lying on my side and just reached down to say "I love you" and just left his paw there. It was so cute that I couldn't move. After a couple of minutes he withdrew it but put it back again. No claws or kneading just showing his feelings for me. He had never done that before and it was really touching. It wasn't long after that that he became sick. I only had him for 4 years and he was only about 3-4 years old when we found him.
Today, despite the fact that he could barely walk and was getting sicker and sicker even with the IV fluids, he kept purring when I petted him. His illness was irreversible and his suffering was too much to take any longer. He was still purring as my tears dropped onto his head and while the needle went in...