Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Saying Goodbye to a Friend

Last May I posted a story here about my new kitten Phantom. If you don't remember you can go back and read it here.

Today I had to tell him goodbye.

He had been sick. He was only a year old, but had been sick with a variety of problems, but all relating to his blood, and bleeding. Teething was even difficult for him, and we had to watch him carefully during that time to make sure he didn't lose a lot of blood. He got through that, but the major trauma for him came in the form of bruises. Just a tiny bump or jar could create a hematoma. With his blood issue these could be devestating. The first instance he had with one was several months back, and we almost lost him then. However, after a blood transfusion and a few days in the hospital we were able to nurse him back to health. Unfortunately the incident changed him. He would become lethargic from time to time, limp a bit and just be unhappy for days at a time. He didn't want to play much, and when he did it was for only short periods and he would have to rest. It was as if we had an older cat. I guess almost dying takes a lot out of you, even if you're a cat.

Sunday Phantom moped around a lot, and mostly stayed in his basket. That evening when it was time for bed I found him laying on the couch in his regular spot. When I started to rub him a bit and tell him good night he reacted with a low growl. I knew something was up, so I checked him over good and discovered another hematoma (it was near his back leg). I rubbed his neck and ears good, told him to rest.

Monday morning, he was still mopey, but we knew that there's not much can be done for a hematoma, so we decided to give him a day to recover a bit before we called the vet. That evening, I picked him up and discovered that the hematoma was larger than I had expected. Tina and I decided we'd take him to the vet in the morning.

Tuesday morning, we took him to the vet. He was very tired, draggy, but alert. X-Rays and a variety of tests showed that it was a hematoma (as we had guessed). His blood work looked was fine, and we brought him home. As the evening progressed he got worse.

This morning we took him back to the vet. He had camped out in the bathroom last night, and this morning he was still in the same spot - not good. That was 5:30Am. The veterinarian office doesn't open until 8:30. A long three hours pass and we take him back in. We get a call that he needs another transfusion, and probably another several day stay at the hospital.

I had gone through this before and it was not something I was prepared to do again. I had to make a decision. It wasn't easy. Today I made the decision to let my friend go. He was hurting. He was sick. His chances of surviving something like this again was slim. We didn't even know if the transfusion would would work. What I did know is I didn't want him to suffer. I couldn't allow him to hurt.

I felt it only fair that Samuel get a chance to tell Phantom goodbye. Tina stayed with Phantom while I went to get Samuel from school. He's a good kid, smart, and known to always do the right thing. He's only 8, but I trust his judgement on things like this. We talked on the way back to the veterinarian clinic and he understood. He understood my decision.

I knew I was staying with Phantom for the whole thing; it was my decision to let him go, so it was my duty - no - my priveledge and honor to stay with my friend as he passed. He was my buddy. I didn't expect Tina or Samuel to stay, but Samuel insisted that he would stay (remember: he's been known to do the right thing). So, we all three were there to tell him goodbye.

He was a champ and a real pal. He was everything I ever expected and more. I've always had a horrible allergy to cats, but Phantom cured that for me. I can romp and play with cats and kittens now with no bad allergy issues. I really never imagined that I'd ever be over my cat allergy.

Phantom was my cat.

We buried him in the yard along with a paperwad, his stuffed toys, and some of his favorite treats. He lies just outside the kitchen and diningroom windows near "Samuel's Tree". Samuel decided on that. It's a nice spot - always cool there in the hottest part of the summer, and always shady.

On his box I wrote the words to a little song I made up for him when he first came home with us.
You've got a cute little nose
and everybody knows
about your fuzzy little chin
I'm gonna sing it all again
about your funny little fuzzy ears,
No telling what he really hears
About his cute little nose
That everybody knows.

You can hear the song here: Cute Little Nose (Phantom's Song)
Samuel and Tina also wrote a special notes on the box about how they'll always miss him and remember him.

Today I said goodbye to a most special friend.



Karyn said...

Well I know I didn't know him, but he was special to me anyway. I'm so sorry.

Unknown said...

Jim, Thanks for sharing the link on our FB post about our cat, Sofia. You captured the feelings we have had for our kitties exactly, and we know that, even though she's feeling a bit better now, we'll have to say farewell all too soon to our Sofia.

Jim Pankey said...

I'm 50 years old (45 when Phantom came home with me). For all of those 45 years I couldn't spend more than 10 minutes in a home that had even one cat (even an outside cat). To state that I had an allergy to cats was an understatement. It wasn't just an annoyance, but it made it almost impossible to breathe, as well as making it difficult to see since my eyes would swell.
So why oh why did I even consider bringing him home? Yeah, asked that myself as I drove home with my eyes starting to swell and the allergy kicking in as I knew it would.
But just look at him! How could I not take him? He picked me out. It was as if he had no interest in anyone but me. Most of all when I held him he was happy, and it felt good to for once decide - despite my own doubts - that I'd take this guy home. He had a forever home even if I had to give myself injections for the allergies.
In a short few weeks I had NO MORE allergy issues - not with Phantom, not with any other cat. I've read that my allergies may have gotten better due to exposure. Not sure about all that, I do know that if it hadn't been for those ears and nose I'd still be dreadfully allergic to cats.
Phantom was my cat. Phantom was really and truly my first pet. Oh, we'd had family pets and strays that would come around that we'd look after, but this little guy was now part of my family. He was more than a pet.
He made me realize that our pets are more than just things. Looking in his eyes and watching his face I could see that he wasn't just operating on instincts and impulses, but he had feelings, moods, worries, fear, excitement, and wonder for the world around him.
He was incredibly brave, adventurous, strong, and I actually aspire to be like him. He's still my hero and champion. He spent his days loving us even when he was feeling quite terrible. Yeah, we made mistakes along the way.
Every morning for almost a year he'd hop up on the bed, try to sneak up on me, and then (if I had my hand under my head) bite me under the arm -- Every Morning! Ouch! Oh, it wasn't such a hard bite, it was just a tender area - especially when I'm half asleep. It was just his way of saying good morning, because after he'd knead on me and let me pet him a bit before I got up. Some mornings I still feel him slip up beside me. It's real enough to me that I'll put my arm down quickly, but it's always at that point that I realize I'm just dreaming. While I didn't like it so much, I wouldn't mind just one more nibble.
I guess finally, having to make a decision regarding his life made me a different person. Making the "right" decision is riddled with guilt and sadness regardless of how "right" I knew my ultimate decision was. Did I want to be selfish, or did I want to tell him goodbye? His quality of life was going to be lousy. Each time he had a problem it just left him weaker and weaker. I didn't want him to be unhappy, and I didn't want him to suffer any longer.
I'm a much better person because of Phantom.