I also started looking for our next cat. While we know we can never replace him in our hearts, there are so many animals who need homes, and we think this is a pretty good one to get. Husband argued that Angus would actually want us to give the opportunity of domestic life to another cat, as he experienced the benefits and alternatives first hand. Angus was a feral cat who was trapped when he was 2-3 months old. He and his sisters were found eating out of a dumpster behind a restaurant. If they hadn't been rescued, they may not have lived more than a year. I sat next to him and searched a few local shelters. Perhaps, I was trying to gain his blessings, or just trying to assuage my own guilt.
I was looking for another ginger tom. Like human men with English or England Commonwealth accents; that's my type. I kept re-visiting the profile of a four year old cat named Hugo. The picture displayed was only a close-up of his face, but there was something about his pensive look that was drawing me to him. I kept checking the page every day to see if he was still available. I figured there wouldn't be too high of a demand for an older cat, so he could likely hold out until Angus's passing and our time for grieving. Then one day, I noted that they changed the picture. Apparently they took him to a Kitty Glamour Shots session.
Okay...maybe not... Although it's not the cat's fault that someone thought that a bit of gold bling would make him look more appealing. It just really hit me that falling in love with another cat would not be as seamless as I thought it would be. Taking care of the tangible details of Angus's death was an easy task, dealing with the emotional fallout was not. How could I expect to replace an eleven year relationship in merely an instant?
I quickly made an appointment for the vet without giving any thought to how I would get him to the vet. Every time I approached him, he ran away, and he was a quick little bugger! I chased him around my apartment for thirty minutes before I trapped him in my room and dragged him out from underneath my bed. We were forty-five minutes late to the appointment. The receptionist took a look at the scratches on my arms and agreed to let us be seen. Once we were in the exam room, I took him out of his carrier. He didn't try to run or hide, so I picked him up and held him in my arms. He didn't squirm or protest, so I held him until the vet arrived. Sure enough, it was conjunctivitis. The vet gave him an oral antibiotic and a steroid eye drop. When we got home, I thought I'd go to the gym and give him some peace and quiet in order to unwind from his earlier ordeal. As I was leaving, I saw him sitting under my table with a sad look to his face. I approached him and he didn't run. I carefully picked him up and moved over to the sofa. I placed him on my lap and he absolutely melted. He began purring loudly and licked my hands. I never made it to the gym that night and spent the next two hours bonding with my cat.
His potential to be a loyal cat had be tapped. From that moment on, he wouldn't leave my side. He slept next to me a night. He would sense what time I was due home and would greet me at the door. Both Husband and my father noted that his eyes seemed to follow me when I walked about a room. Husband often expressed that he was jealous over the amount of attention I gave to Angus, but how could I not reward someone who was so willing to shower me with his affection? Every moment with him was so precious. I'll forever treasure every time he brushed up against my legs. Every time I woke up and found him sleeping by my side. Every meow. Every purr.
He was given a prognosis of 2-3 weeks at the time of his diagnosis. He held his own during the first week. He would walk into the kitchen and looks at us with his 'feed me' eyes, but would only graze upon his food. Myrtle sent him some cat treats that he went nuts over, so we fed him those whenever he wanted. His last night sleeping with me was the night after my retrieval. He usually snuggled by my shoulder, but this time he positioned himself so he was leaning against my hip. I had recently finished my eighth bottle of Vitamin Water and desperately needed to pee, but I didn't dare move. My RE and the staff at XYZ Fertility Centre all know that holding my bladder for the transfer is absolute torture for me. Burning injections of Menopur, drawing my own blood and self administering IM Progesterone-in-Oil injections; no problem. Yet, I wince and moan over keeping my bladder full during the transfer. I lay still for over an hour, and when he finally got off the bed, I was able to get up and relieve myself.
He became less active and was noticeably skinnier as we went into his second week. I thought about scheduling him to be put down on a Thursday, since my vet has evening hours on that night. It would also work out well as we had plans to meet up with friends the next night and we had a very busy day scheduled for Saturday. We would join some ex-pats in a pub for England's first World Cup match and then catch a baseball game as the Yankees were in town. Great plan to be distracted from our grief. Yet, I had reservations about ending his life around when it was convenient for me. I didn't like the idea about having an appointment for death. I didn't want to his last memories to be in his dreaded cat carrier going to the place he absolutely hated. Every time I walked past him, I held my breath to see if he had peacefully slipped away on his own.
Two days before he would have hit the three week mark, I came home from the gym and found him in the foyer. It would be his last time greeting me at the door. The joy from that moment was short lived as I discovered that he was in distress. He was listless and tachypneic. Husband and I looked at each other, holding back tears in our eyes. We knew it was time. Our vet's answering service directed us to an after hours emergency clinic. I gave him a generous dose of his pain medication and sat next to him in the backseat of my car as Husband drove. There was over an hour wait, and the staff was gracious enough to let us stay in our car, rather than in the dog filled waiting room. He seemed much more comfortable, but Husband and I knew that we needed to proceed. If not that night, we'd be back the next night or the night after that.
So it began in a vet's office, and so it ended in a vet's office. The 'transitions room' featured soft lighting and a few comfy chairs and a sofa. It looked like it could be someone's living room, rather than a clinic. I don't often subscribe to the 'everything happens for a reason' philosophy, but at that moment, I felt that we benefited from infertility and pregnancy loss. It would have been much more difficult to have managed that moment being heavily pregnant, or having a baby on hand. I leaned against Husband and held him in my arms as the vet administered the medications. Once he was gone, we both let ourselves cry. I tried not to be bitter over the time that we were being denied, but I reflected on all that we experienced in the eleven years we had together. A marriage, two apartments and our first purchased home. A cross country flight. Four different jobs. The addition of his kitty little sister. He had a better life because of me and I had a much fuller life because of him.
Good night Angus, my heart and my life are a little bit empty without you. I'll forever treasure my memories of every day we spent together. Goodbye my cat, my companion, my beautiful boy.
I love you so much.