So long my sweet boy

This morning we said goodbye to our 15 1/2 year old cat, Mo. The past few weeks have not been good for him and I’ve been trying everything I can think of to help him feel better.  I’d been taking him to the vet once a week for hydration shots and blood work.  He was on transdermal medicines for arthritis and pancreatitis and eating special food.  Still, he kept losing weight.

Selfishly, I kept trying because I couldn’t see how I could go through so much change in such a short period of time.  Our home is going to begin being torn down tomorrow, and that will end whatever thoughts I have in the back of my head that we’re going back there and everything will be as it once was.  So much of our belongings are still out of place. In fact, I don’t have any photos of Mo because they got wet so I gave them to a friend to try to salvage. The ones in this post are from a scrapbook.

It’s hard to let go of inanimate objects, but it’s especially hard to let go of a beloved pet. I personified Mo so much that I feel like I lost a close friend. Losing favorite objects, sentimental cards and photos, even a whole house, I can hardly get my mind around but I understand.  Having to continue our routines without Mo feels like too much loss. I know we’ll be fine, but it still hurts like heck.

A main reason that we moved out of the apartment last month was that Mo needed some space to chill without being terrorized by the new kitten.  We set him up in our closet with a bed, litter box, food, water fountain, and toys and we’d visit him often.  I was even hoping he’d resume sleeping near my head every night now that he felt he could have his own space.

One day recently, I tried luring him out of his little cave with new wet food.  Watching him walk was just awful. He looked like he was in major pain.  So he has lived in his little closet for the month that we’ve been here. Sometimes he’d come out to lick the shower floor a little or sit on a chair in our bedroom, and that’d make me so happy!

Today, he couldn’t even raise his head to give me his usual hello.   His kidneys had shut down and he seemed to stop trying to push through.  I had a vet appointment anyway that I made yesterday out of concern, so we went and she took his temperature and said, yes, he’s leaving us.  He hadn’t been grooming himself in several days so he smelled pretty awful.  He didn’t even do his usual vet routine where he curls into a ball or tries to hide in my sleeve.  He just lay there feeling miserable.

She said, yes, it’s time.

Today it’s goodbye Mo and tomorrow it’s goodbye house.  So many changes at one time! Deep breath.

I thought of Mo as my sweet boy, my little buddy.  Something about his demeanor and his seriousness touched me.  I thought I understood him and vice versa.  We had our routines.

It was October of 2002 when Mr. B and I went to the humane center to get a dog and left with these two 3-mo-old brothers.  They were so adorable! See how they fit in a tiny basket together? From the start, Sammy was the “cool cat” and Mo was the “fraidy cat.” We never knew what had happened to him before they were found behind a grocery store and brought to the shelter, but Mo had a broken tail and a very nervous constitution. He definitely didn’t like sudden movements.  I was very gentle and loving with him and we bonded straight away.

While Sammy would investigate the townhouse we lived in at night and occasionally come jump on our heads and squeak at the ceiling fan, Mo would snuggle under the covers right between us.  They were very playful… doing circles around our stairs so fast we could barely see them, jumping into our plants and knocking dirt all over the carpet, hiding in the bookshelves.

We got the boys at a time when I needed something to care for.  I remember I’d been hospitalized in May or June of that year and I was recuperating at home while taking an outpatient distress tolerance/emotion regulation class.  Probably, Mr. B thought these kittens would be good for me.  I remember being thoroughly shocked when he said we could take them home.  We had to stop at the pet store for every single thing because we hadn’t planned on adopting cats!

I can hardly believe these pictures of Mo as a kitten…

When we brought our daughter home from the hospital 6 years later, Sammy was so excited for some new adventures and new toys to investigate.  Mo was not so sure.  He’d come over to the chair where I’d be nursing SG and just stare at me. I wondered if he was jealous of my attention.

He tried all sorts of things!

My favorite memories of Mo are of our bed snuggles.  For a cat who didn’t like to be held, this was my only way to be with him for long periods of time.  He would lay with me every single night while I read my book. As soon as I turned off the light, he’d go in search of Mr. B and sit with him wherever he was.  Then, they’d both come to bed together, Mo snuggling near my pillow in between us. This is the time he was most accepting of pets and cuddles.

As soon as we got out of the shower, Mo was right there to go in. It was his thing.  His favorite place was a chair in our bedroom by the window.  He would spend most of his day there sleeping.  If I’d go outside to our sunporch, he’d get up and come sit in the sun nearby.  Once he got to a time where he wasn’t very active, I began opening the door to the porch often so he would have some mental stimulation watching the birds.

The kitties were very much a part of what makes our life meaningful.  We lost Sammy very suddenly almost 3 years ago now, and that was really hard on Sweet Girl.  He was very important to her… actually I think “Sammy” was her first word.  We’ve been preparing ourselves for saying goodbye for about a week or two now, but still, this morning, we didn’t have SG say goodbye. I was 80% sure I wouldn’t be coming home with Mo, but I wasn’t sure and didn’t want to create unnecessary emotional drama.  So now I’ve got to figure out how to tell her.  We have a very busy couple of days and I can’t afford meltdowns… not sure yet.

Attempting to get him in the New Year’s spirit… I always imagined him wearing a bowtie.

The last 6 months have just been too much for him.  First we brought a kitten into the house. Just when we are about to slowly introduce them, we realized that CoCo had ringworm.  SG and I spent a ton of time caring for her (and doing lots of laundry). Then the storm made it necessary to grab both cats and head upstairs above the garage, so they got a crash course in each other and Mo was not pleased. There was a lot of hissing.

They stayed there by themselves. Then with friends and without us for a few weeks, where I thought he did quite well.  That’s when he started hiding in his little cubby all the time, poor guy. Then in the apartment.  He managed ok except for CoCo wanting to play all the time, jumping on him and trying everything.  Once I brought him to this rental house, he’d had it. He didn’t investigate much at all.  He’s been living in the closet and slowly getting worse.

Having to say goodbye this morning felt like a huge loss, though I am relieved that he won’t be struggling anymore.  I told him to say hello to Sammy for us.

I appreciate my memories of him and all he brought to our family.  He was a huge part of me growing up. 16 years is quite a long life for a cat, I realize, and he was a wonderful pet for all of them.  I miss him already.

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4 Responses to So long my sweet boy

  1. cheryl says:

    So sad Naomi. He was well loved and now he gets to let go and rest. Easy for him but not so much for you and your family. Grieve him for as long as you need to. Grieve the loss of your house also.
    Sending healing hugs.

  2. Shoshanna Lansberg says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your sweet kitty. I had to let go of our orange kitty when he was 18 and I know how heartbreaking it can be. He was like my first child. Hugs to you and your family. May your sweet Mo live on in your happy memories and forever in your heart.

  3. Naomi says:

    Shoshanna, thank you for writing this. It helps me so much! Yes, he was definitely like my first child. I hadn’t thought of it that way. 🙂

  4. Naomi says:

    Thanks, friend. And happy birthday!

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