On December 27, 2014 at about 3:30 pm, my good friend Salem passed away in my arms.
We don’t know exactly how old Salem was, but we know he had a long and well-loved life.
Salem used to belong to our (used to be) next door neighbor. She had booted him out of the house for beating on one of her other cats. The neighbor provided him with an outside place to sleep and food, but he clearly was not happy being an all-the-time outside kitty. For one thing, he already had impaired vision with cataracts in both eyes. At the time, we took him in, we had no idea that he belonged next door. He settled into our household with no problems. He could get a little rough playing, but we had no incidents of beat-downs, even though one of our cats (Stella) looked a lot like the cat he had been terrorizing next door).
He was our smoothy-mc-smooth-smooth boy. He had a bee-u-tee-ful voice too. And there was no doubt that I was his mom. He wanted to spend a lot of his day being held by me. If I ignored him, he became very vocal and he would rub up against my legs, usually leaving a lovely trail of cat snot (he assured me it was very good for me and had many healing properties).
He was our most expensive cat to date. Cataract surgery in both eyes with regular follow-ups with his cat eye doctor. A urinary track blockage requiring a trip to the emergency clinic and then a visit with his regular vet. When the undiagnosed (God only knows, we paid for every test the eye doctor could think of) eye inflammation, got worse; Salem had to have one eye removed. And then his remaining eye failed him. He was recently diagnosed with hyperactive thyroid and was getting pills twice a day. Turns out the thyroid condition was masking kidney failure. If he had survived, I was going to try him with subcutaneous fluids – which he had before and did not like one bit.
I don’t know if it was the kidney failure or if he had a stroke, but he suddenly became very wobbly and had trouble balancing and walking; he also started peeing anywhere he felt the urge (although, if I put him in the litter box a few times a day, he would use it and that cut down on his “accidents”). He also pooped on the floor next to the litter box. I tried to get him to use a low-sided litter pan, but he would have none of it. But mostly, he just slept – in his snuggle bed during the day and on top of me at night.
We were gone Christmas week, and I was very concerned about leaving a very sick cat – even though I know our pet sitter is highly skilled and a great vet tech as well. I called her and she said she was okay with keeping an eye on our oldster-oldster cat, and if anything serious arose, she’d call me or take him to the vets and they would call me.
While we were gone, our pet sitter gave us regular updates. He would eat some days and not others. When we got home on Dec. 26th, he seemed happy to have his mommy home, and I gave him lots of good cuddles. I tried to put him in the litter box, but he fell face first into the litter and simply could not stand. I cleaned him up and just resigned myself to be on puddle duty.
The next day, he was even weaker. I held him as I sat at my computer and he seemed pretty content. I noticed his breathing was a lot shallower than was usual for him, and knew the end was coming. At one point, I put him on the floor and he simply collapsed – I think he was in a coma at that point; so I picked him up and held him for the next few hours as his breathing became more and more shallow.
We had had one sick cat put to sleep before and it was a terrible experience. The cat was terrified. I didn’t want to put myself or Salem through that if I could avoid it. It wasn’t easy to hold my baby-boy while he passed, but I know it was an easy death for him and if he was aware at all, he knew I was there for him and he was loved.
So goodbye my old friend. You were a good good boy and you’ll always remain in a corner of my heart.