I know I’ve been offline for a while. Three weeks to be exact. Ironic sort of, considering the last line of my last post was “We’ll have to see what the next two weeks brings.”
My cat, Fritti, did not survive long after that last post. Michael and I took the kids to Maryland that weekend, leaving Fritti at the vet’s. They took very good care of him, and when I picked him up on Monday, he seemed fine. Skinny as hell but no worse than when I dropped him off, and actually a little bit better. He’d just been bathed, and though he’s not partial to baths, it did improve his appearance some.
However, within a few hours of bringing Fritti home, I noticed that the problem he’d been having with his back left leg had now spread to his back right leg. I called the vet, who said the problem might have been caused by Fritti staying in an enclosed area during the weekend, as opposed to having an entire garage or house to roam around in like he was used to. I decided to give Fritti a day to recover. Perhaps some time to move around would improve the problem. It did not. An hour later when I went to feed him again, he was having problems controlling all four legs. He had to sit to eat, and even then he had trouble keeping his front legs from sliding out from under him.
I did not want to admit it, but it was painfully obvious that the time had come to make a decision. I called the vet again and asked if there was anything else we could do, or if I should just accept that it was time to put Fritti down. The vet’s response was that he would be ready to take care of Fritti as soon as I made my decision. Neither a yes or a no. The decision had to be mine. So I went back to the garage and spent a few moments watching Fritti rest in one of his hiding spots. Normally, he would come out of hiding any time I entered the garage. Not this time. I don’t think his legs would let him. I went back into the house and called the vet to make the appointment for the next morning.
As soon as I made the call, I returned to the garage and coaxed Fritti out of hiding. No matter what kind of mess he made, my cat was not spending his last night alone in the garage. I put him up in my bedroom with some fresh food and water and a cushy towel to rest on. Then I headed back downstairs. I had made the appointment to have him put down for a time after Cassie left for preschool. At the age of four, I wasn’t sure if she would understand what was going on. It would be best, I thought, to simply explain that Fritti had been very ill and so he’d gone to sleep and had simply not woken up. I was going over what I would need to explain to Cassie and what I was going to do the next day before going to the vet when I snagged my foot coming down the steps and fell head over heels to the landing.
I fell a total of four steps and ended up curled around the scratching post we keep on the landing. My left foot was in agony, and I couldn’t stand. I had to crawl down the rest of the steps and into the living room to get to the nearest phone. Fortunately Sam was still asleep in her crib, but it was almost time for her to wake up so we could pick up Cassie at preschool. I tried calling Michael first but couldn’t get through. He was tied up in a teleconference. My next door neighbor wasn’t in either. So I called my best friend Mary, who just happens to be a nurse. She had just walked in the door when the phone rang. And she walked out the moment she understood I was incapacitated.
Mary made it to my house in fifteen minutes. She got me bandaged up and put plenty of ice on my foot, then fetched the crutches from the garage. By that point I had finally managed to get a hold of Michael and explain to him that I had probably broken my foot. Would he please pick up Cassie and bring her home? Yes. While Michael headed off to the preschool, Mary helped me upstairs to take care of Sam. As soon as Michael and Cassie arrived home, we all piled into our cars and headed over to Mary’s house, leaving poor Fritti hiding under my bed. Mary took care of the kids while Michael and I headed out to the nearest urgent care center.
Fortunately, I did not break anything, although I had managed to badly sprain my foot. The doctor at the urgent care center was quite surprised that I hadn’t wiped out a hip, knee, or ankle in the process. He gave me a prescription for an anti-inflammatory and sent me on my way. We spent an hour at the pharmacy waiting for my prescription, another hour at Mary’s eating dinner, and then we all headed home.
I slept fitfully through the night. My foot hurt like hell and I had to keep it propped up to reduce the swelling. I could have taken a pain killer for it, but decided against it because painkillers usually to make me feel worse, not better. Throughout the night, I heard Fritti creep around the room. He would drag himself ten steps then lie down and rest. Another ten steps, another rest. He moved very slowly, and in the dark I couldn’t really tell if he was lying down or falling down at the end of each short walk. I wasn’t even sure why he was moving around at all, since he didn’t touch his food or water.
We woke up late the next morning. Michael got Cassie up and ready for preschool, then came back to help me with Sam and Fritti. Fritti spent the morning by the dining room table where we laid him. After breakfast Michael pulled out the camera and had me sit with Fritti on the couch for one last picture. I’m torn over that. Fritti was so ill, I didn’t want to remember him like that, but it was also the last time I would ever get to take his picture. After the photo, Michael brought out the cat carrier and put Fritti in. He fought a bit, but not as much as he would have when he was well. It was only a two minute drive to the vet, and then we waited in the examining room while Fritti lay on the floor.
By that point he was obviously miserable. He wouldn’t get up and hide like he normally would have for a vet visit. He just lay by the wall, panting. I lowered myself to the floor to spend a few more moments scratching him behind the ears. When the vet came in, Sam started to fuss so Michael took her out. I stayed behind and watched the vet very carefully put Fritti on the examining table. The assistant held Fritti steady while the vet pulled out a needle. Fritti didn’t fight it. He simply lay there. The needle went it and that was it. It all happened so quickly Fritti didn’t even have time to close his eyes. He just simply passed away.
The vet and the assistant left, giving me a last few minutes with Fritti. I couldn’t believe he was gone. His eyes were still so wide and clear. I scratched him behind his ears and kissed his head and I cried. I stayed in the examining room until I realized that Fritti’s eyes were finally starting to dim. Then I gave him one more kiss and left.
That was almost three weeks ago, and I still cry every time I think about it. We had Fritti cremated, and now his ashes sit in a white acrylic box on my bookshelf. It even has his name on it. It breaks my heart to look at it. All I can think of is how much I miss that bone-headed cat, and how frightfully ill he was at the end. I’m still working on a proper eulogy for Fritti, something that covers the happier moments of his life. I will post that when it’s done.