The Crankee Yankee and I recently lost one of our six cats; our big orange boy, Tinker. He and his pal, Plumpy Nut, were strays years ago, and we fed and watered them all through the spring, summer and fall. We never knew if anyone owned them. When winter came, we felt that we had to take them into the house. We couldn’t bear the thought of them being cold with no place to go. So we took them in, got them to our vet for all the necessary cat stuff, and they became part of the family. At the time, we only had our only female; Nala, and our only male; Pookie. They all got used to each other, and we loved having four wonderful cats.
Later on, we got Bailey, who had lived with my mom and dad. All five cats got along well, and we were a happy cat family. Earlier this year we also adopted Scooter, a black male with a white spot on his chest. Long story short, he had belonged to someone in the neighborhood; someone left the door open and he ran out. He had been on his own for about two years, and we took him in. So there we were, with six happy, healthy cats.
But last Saturday, our Tinker stopped eating and drinking. We tried everything to entice him to eat; nothing worked. By evening we were very worried about him, and we took him to the emergency animal hospital. It appeared that he had lung issues, and had somehow eaten something with fleas; which once inside an animal turn to nasty parasites; worms actually. The vet there did all he could to rid him of the worms, and when we got Tinker back, he seemed better.
But he wouldn’t eat or drink. He was lethargic and slept most of the days. Our own vet checked him out, and did all he could to get him feeling better. But once at home, again he wouldn’t eat anything.
Then the other evening, he suddenly stood up, howled and then coughed up some blood, fell to the floor and died. The Crankee Yankee and I were beyond shock and grief; we honestly thought that Tinker would eventually get better. We cleaned him up, and placed him on a clean blanket in his carrier and took him to the emergency vet for the last time.
An autopsy showed that he had had a heart attack; I didn’t know that cats could have heart attacks. We left our dear boy there for cremation and wept for him. His best pal, Plumpy Nut looked for him, which of course broke our hearts.
Some good news: Plumpy has bonded with our Pookie, who is as shy as Tinker was. They have what we call “the boy’s club” down stairs; Plumpy sleeps on the table I fold laundry on, and Pookie sleeps under the table in his cozy cat bed. They and the other three cats; Nala, our only girl; Bailey, and the latest kitty, Scooter, are our family now.
Any pet owner knows that eventually our pets will die. It’s a sad but true fact—all of us with die sometime. It always hurts to see them go, but often it leads to adopting another pet who badly needs a home. A new pet can never be a substitute for the one gone; but he or she can quickly become part of the family.
The thing that comforts me most at this sad time is something I heard from an animal behaviorist. She had had many dogs in her life, and she studied them; how they live their lives, how they eat, drink and sleep, how they quickly become part of the family; and, interestingly enough; how they “communicate” with their owners. When their time to leave comes, animals are intuitive about the coming change. They know that they are now old, tired and sick and their lives are waning. The animal behaviorist explained how animals view dying; it’s as though they realize that they no longer have the strength and energy they used to have. If they could speak, they would say “this body no longer serves me.”
That one phrase comforts me. I’ve always thought that animals were wiser about life and death that we are; this confirms it for me. The Crankee Yankee and I are are slowly recovering from Tinker’s death, and we miss him dearly. Tinker loved to sleep with us every night, and he was a real bed hog. Often one of us would wake up in the night with cramped legs, and saying, “Tinker! Move over!” How I miss that.
Be happy, Tinker. We will always remember you and will love you forever. Until we meet again…