Goodbye, Crazy Old Cat

A few months ago I wrote about Huckle, our not overly bright, directionally challenged, accident-prone, Czech barn cat. I started that post as a sort of epitaph, as he had disappeared from our roof a few days previously and I was pretty sure we wouldn’t be seeing him again.

Well, he found his way home that time, just like he had the previous two times he’d wandered off. At 15 years old, with no teeth, 2/3 of a tail, and a healing rib from a seven-story fall, he traveled back to Arlington with us to happily lie around a nice, warm apartment on his favorite serape.

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But all was not well. Soon after we arrived, I noticed that he was breathing heavily, and seemed to be losing weight. So, in September, I took him to the vet, and they diagnosed hyperthyroidism and congestive heart failure. Medication helped a lot with his symptoms, but the vet was honest with me that he probably didn’t have more than a year left.

This presented a potential problem for moving to Warsaw next summer. I quietly hoped that the decision would not be left up to me: whether to drag him to Europe once again or put him down for the “needs of the service.”

Still, it was a shock when upon our return from a short Christmas trip to Nashville, Huckle’s breathing was labored and he didn’t look too good. He was still eating, drinking, and using the litterbox, but he was clearly wiped out. I called the vet the next morning, and she put him back on the diuretic he had been on previously (not sure why they took him off it in the first place) in an effort to reduce the congestion in his chest.

But, two doses didn’t help, and while we were watching TV that night, he started to go downhill fast. He was panting, restless, and hiding in corners in that ominous way that cats do when they know their time is up.

Around 10 p.m. we took him to the emergency vet. They put him in an oxygen tent which made him more comfortable, and offered to surgically drain his chest, but advised us that  it probably would not work for long, and it would be better to put him down.

I’m not a believer in extreme measures to save geriatric pets, and so it was not actually so difficult to decide to let him go. It was a tough night, though. 15 years is probably the longest I have ever had a pet, and my daughter, home from graduate school, had known Huckle for most of her life. He was always “her” cat. She and I stayed with Huckle for the procedure and said goodbye to him. I just wonder if he held out for those last few days while we were away so that we could be there to help him along.

So, both of our kids’ childhood pets are now gone. It’s the end of an era, in a way.

Goodbye crazy old cat. You were never the sharpest tool in the shed, but you were the cuddliest cat we ever had—and you loved us with all your simple kitty heart. I hope there is a sunny spot on the sofa for you wherever you are.

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