Goodbye, Morton. It was a heck of a ride.
I know this is not fishing related. We had to put our cat, Morton, to sleep last night. He just "celebrated" his 17th birthday...a h*** of a way to celebrate it.
I have written about him before when we made what we thought would be "the trip" a few months back. Somehow, someway, he perked up and we decided he had a little more life left in him. That was back in May. I really thought he had, at most, a couple weeks. Turned out he had about four months left. In hindsight, that was a bittersweet decision. You could tell he was "not right" the whole time but he plugged along...MAN, did he plug along. He fought thru more pain than I think I ever will be able to handle and made nary a whimper.
This past week, there was a listlessness in his eyes. It looked like he was willing himself to make the next step, to make the next breath, heck, to sit down, for heavens sake! His hips were so bad that he could never get comfortable. In the end, he was so constipated that he couldn't eat but he was famished.
But, thru it all, he was there for the people in his life. He would still come out and greet us whenever one of us came home. He would still nudge your hand to give him a scratch behind the ear. He would just put his little paw on your hand as you watched TV at night, out of nowhere...he would put his paw on your hand and, when you turned to look at him, he would be looking right at your face. You could tell he was not feeling well but he was loving the life he had.
He didn't eat a stitch of food on Saturday--the first time he did that in his entire life. He went into a bedroom closet sometime during the night and we didn't see him until Sunday afternoon. He crawled to his food bowl and ate some. "Woo-hoo!" thought the wife. Then he walked out of the kitchen and about three feet into the next room, where we just cleaned the carpets the day before, and proceeded to throw up every single ounce of food he tried to eat.
We cleaned that up and he really wanted to go outside. My son carried him down the steps and placed him gently in the grass. The little guy...smiled. I was busy painting the front door and kept an eye on him. He struggled to the concrete landing, which was well warmed by the sun. It must have felt good on his tired joints because he fell fast asleep. Honestly, the most contented I have seen him in a long time.
We left him outside until after we ate dinner because he looked so content outside. He loves it, er, I mean loved it out there. I was feeling really bad for him and opened a can of tuna fish for him, hoping it would entice him to eat. My son brought him in and placed him right in front of his bowl. Morton looked at is, smelled it, and turned away. He just sat there looking into space. I told them this was the end. My son wanted nothing to do with that, so he moved the bowl right in front of Morton and, lo and behold!! He ate about half the bowl in a minute. Then he made it to his water bowl and proceeded to drink like a horse.
Then he walked three feet away again and immediately threw up everything he consumed. And he just sat there..sat there in all the mess. He did not budge. He he did not attempt to clean himself at all. He didn't even make a sound; he just sat and stared.
I was honestly in my car pulling out of the driveway when they called me to come help clean the poor little guy up. He attempted to move and he couldn't. He started to cry the most pitiful cry I may have ever heard in my life. He moved less than a foot and tried to sit/lay and he couldn't do it. That was when I made the decision.
Of course Morty had to do this on a Sunday evening when the only thing open was the emergency animal hospital. Of course we had to make the drive to pick up my daughter at college--which is only 30 minutes away but, still, the animal hospital was in the opposite direction. But we had to do it.
I am not going to talk about "the event" because, well, it is not really necessary. But I do want to say that it made me really happy that everybody stayed in the room throughout. Each and every one has said that there would be no way they will be in that room when the dirty deed was performed. My wife and son both said they were going to leave even as we were holding him in the room that they were going to leave once the doctor came in. But nobody left. I am sure it made our little buddy really happy.
And I am especially happy we made the trip to college because Morton was, and will ever be, my daughter's cat. She was three whenever we went to the Humane Society to pick out a kitten. His paw came out of the cage and literally smacked her offside the noggin. It was really funny and she got a kick out of it. There were a ton of kittens and cats there that day but she was drawn to this little orange puffball. We all knew he was the one even though we took our time to see them all.
Through the years, you could not have asked for a more terrific animal. He was both a cat and a dog. He would come when he was called. He would greet each and every person who came into the house. He wanted to be the center of attention whenever people were over. He grew to be a darn-near 30 pound cat who would let you do anything to and would take whatever nonsense kids did to him in stride. It seemed like every kid my children went to school with knew Morton. He was a legend in our neighborhood and beyond. Kids would do anything to see him because he was the biggest cat any of them ever seen. All sorts of people were amazed at him and even the most adamant cat hater really liked Morton.
Mort, I really thought I was ready to say goodbye. You have been in pain for a long, long time but still made sure you made time for everybody in your family. It has been hard these last few months seeing you in what had to be constant pain. You have shown me how to be graceful while struggling in pain. You have taught me how important other people really are and to give of yourself until there is absolutely nothing left to give. It pains me that I took from you and, in may ways, took you for granted. Thank you for teaching me how to be humble and giving life your best shot, even when it seems everything is stacked against you. You have given more joy and happiness and memories to more people than you could have ever imagined. I hope I gave your life even a small fraction of what you have given me and mine.
Goodbye, Morton. You are and will be missed. I loved you, buddy.
“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” –Henry David Thoreau