Noofies of Home Grown told me yesterday, about Handsome “He was ready to go. He picked you on purpose, you know. He needed to be loved and cared for while he was getting ready to go, and needed a safe place to leave from, and knew he’d get all of that from you.”
Thinking about this, I believe it. Just like Blackie, who lived on the streets for years here, a scary looking kitty cat if ever there was one, finally deciding that he was ready to have a home. He was with us for forty-five days before he died. He came to us as a hospice, somehow knowing we’d make his final days comfortable. Of course, we didn’t know they’d be his final days. But we couldn’t have treated him better if we had.
Handsome always had the symptoms he had yesterday when I took him in. His stomach always made a lot of noise. His breathing was always a little labored. He never completely relaxed when he would first lay down. That came when he was finally in a deep sleep and he’d end up on his side, legs stretched out in front of him. And I recall many times during the first few months he was here, how he would awaken out of a sound sleep and quickly get back into the meatloaf position, paws under him, head held up. (Check out this entry from April 2005.) I put the noisy tummy off on the saliva he swallowed for the throat problem the vet mentioned that was common in FIV+ cats. I put the labored breathing off to difficulty swallowing because of a sore throat. I put the changing sleeping position off onto the fact that he was so used to being vigilant, that he never felt quite safe being totally relaxed.
Looking back on it, now I can see all of these symptoms stemming from the same health problem. Something in his lungs. It wasn’t his noisy stomach, it was his noisy lungs. It wasn’t a sore throat, it was fluid in the lungs. I don’t think he ever drooled because of mouth problems. I think it was always from his lungs. When he first came to live with us, his paws were a mess, I remember thinking that someone must have abused him. It wasn’t someone abusing him, it was the drool that came from his lungs.
I don’t know why the vet didn’t hear this on his first visit. I don’t know why it wasn’t discovered when he went in for his teeth cleaning and neuter. But I know, deep down, it was there. And it gradually got worse.
We did right by this old guy. I’m glad he came to be with us. He enriched our lives and he was one of the most charismatic cats I’ll ever have known.
I’ll miss seeing him in the kitchen, waiting for something special, something just for his Handsomeness. There always was something for him. Because he was a very special boy.
I hope we made him happy. I hope he knows how much we loved him and how very much we’ll miss him.
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