Thus far I’ve resisted blogging about our pets, I think because so many other people do it, but we had to put our oldest cat, Felix, to sleep this week, and I thought I’d memorialize him here.
Ellen was working as a Veterinary Technician when we first moved into our new home together in southern New Jersey, and at the animal hospital where she worked, people often brought in kittens they couldn’t keep, who were put in a cage in the reception area and offered free to anyone who would give them a home. Felix was one of those, and my pet-loving wife soon fell in love with this perky kitten with the high, soft voice that she described as sounding like a pigeon cooing.
We already had three cats, and I wasn’t happy about adding to that, but she convinced me to let her bring Felix home one day, and by the end of it, I was okay with keeping him. Felix was full of personality, and even as a kitten, he took over the household right away once he was with us for good. A very outgoing cat, he would always come right up to anyone he met to be petted and say hello, while our others usually hid when we had visitors. This continued till the end.
In his youth he loved to play with string, chasing it and tug of war, as above. This is my favorite picture of him, with that devilish expression in his eyes. Felix and I had a regularly scheduled playtime every evening for about 20 minutes until he got too old to care about such things, and any time we had young visitors, they could amuse him for an hour with a string or similar toy.
Felix was very patient with kids, as can be seen here, with my niece Cristina. The others would be hiding under the bed at the first sound of kids’ voices and little running feet, but Felix was always there for them, and never growled or bit no matter what they did to him.
Felix was a high-maintenance cat, or perhaps in his eyes, we were high-maintenance staff. When he was hungry, he would discuss it at length until he finally got fed, then he was all purrs. He loved to sneak into closets and other closed spaces, hide for a while, then complain loudly that he was being imprisoned and abused, even after we let him out. One time we spent a few hours frantically searching for him only to find him fast asleep inside the clothes hamper.
For bed time, we tried a number of cat beds, which he would use sometimes, but his favorite spot was right between our two pillows. No matter how many times I removed him, he’d be there when I woke up again, so in the end I gave up and let him be.
We have lots of Christmas pictures like this, he got a new toy or two every year until the house was full of them. Most were out of favor in a week or two, but he kept playing with string and especially feathers on a string well into middle age.
A few years ago he started slowing down some, lost interest in anything except food and sleep and getting attention. He did a lot of all three, gradually getting more vocal as time went by. He would often whimper for attention with that high pigeon-cooing sound, and if that didn’t produce results he’d let out a louder MRRROW!! to make his point. About two years ago I realized he wasn’t responding to sounds very well, and was getting deaf. This was unintentionally funny at times, when people would walk up behind him and he’s suddenly leap up in surprise when he saw them.
This past Labor Day he suddenly lost interest in eating and started vomiting occasionally, something he rarely did. Ellen brought him to the vet, who thought it was kidney problems, and gave her medication which helped for a while, but soon he was off his food again. Ellen started giving him fluids every day, but he was still not doing well, so she took him to another vet, who found he had liver problems. This was not good, as there’s no real cure for it, and it meant his days were numbered.
Ellen gave him lots of care, and this was stressful, as Felix was not a good patient. I had to help hold him for fluids or pills, which he was expert at spitting out. His appetite continued to decline, although we kept buying all kinds of special foods and treats to tempt him. Last weekend we were down to canned tuna and rare roast beef from the deli, things we would never give our cats normally, and he did want it, but by Monday evening it was clear he was nearing the end of the road, and really couldn’t eat anymore. Tuesday evening Ellen called the vet to make an appointment to have him euthanized on Wednesday morning. We knew for sure it was time when he threw up blood early Wednesday.
I didn’t have the heart to go with Ellen to the vet, so I said goodbye to Felix here. He was walking unsteadily across the kitchen, after having a look at the water dish, but not drinking. I tried to pick him up, and he purred a little, then gave out an emphatic MRRROW to let me know I was interrupting his progress. I told him how much I’d miss him, and let him go on his way. Felix always knew what he wanted and where he wanted to go. I think he was ready, he didn’t give us the usual hard time getting into the cat carrier.
Life is now less stressful and quieter than it’s been lately. The other two cats are here, happy for extra attention, but not nearly as demanding. We miss Felix, but it’s kind of a relief not to have to deal with his illness, so it was the right decision.
Bye, Felix. You were a good kitty.