Yesterday, Othello’s vet asked me to allow her to keep him and do an autopsy, more or less – she, like me, was disturbed by how suddenly we lost him, and wanted to find out what was going on.
She called me when she was done. What she found out has disturbed me a lot – and humbled me. You probably don’t want to read past this point if you don’t want to cry.
There’s a node near the center of a cat’s intestinal system that had a cancer in it the size of a golf ball, basically pressing outward in all directions, squeezing his intestines shut, which was why he couldn’t keep food down. There were other tumors in his spleen, his liver and one near his urinary glands, which explains his habit of randomly peeing on stuff down through the years even if every litterbox in the house was clean.
Years. Years. Who knows how much pain Othello was in for months or years before he died? That alone drives me nuts. He used to wander through the house in the dead of night crying pitifully, and I always used to assume that he just couldn’t sleep and wanted someone to play with him. I’d get up and get Claude going, or a shoestring or something, and he’d happily play with me until we both got sleepy.
But in the end he’d always come and snuggle up to me and sleep. I realized when I got up this morning that I have evolved a very strange sleeping position – on my right side, with my right shoulder raised up at about ear level and my elbow bent down toward my feet – because Othello used to curl up in that “hook” I made with my arm and snooze next to my head. (This also works out well for Evan on occasion.) My shoulder probably shouldn’t be jointed like that, but it does, because for years that’s where Othello would sleep.
But that’s nothing compared to what he endured to stick around with me.
I am humbled.
For those wondering when the next cat comes into the household…I haven’t decided. I have an child who’s about to be nine months old, and he’s a handful. Even though I’m sure Olivia and Oberon would welcome a kitten with open arms (oh boy! it’s like Claude, but it moves on its own!!), right now isn’t a time when I need an itty bitty kitty underfoot. I think the responsible thing to do would be to pick up a kitty when Evan’s a bit older, and the kitty can be a learning experience and a lesson in responsibility for him.
However, what I keep telling my wife is to keep an open mind: we didn’t go and pick out Oberon, he came to us. Some other kitty out there may decide I need companionship ahead of whatever arbitrary schedule I try to lay out in advance. I’m sure I’ll know them when I meet them. I almost always do.