Last Friday, we packed up our bags and headed to California for a family vacation. Before taking off, we dropped off a very sick kitty at Murdo's parents' house, with instructions for how to administer his subcutaneous fluids and how much to feed him. We brought his scratch box and toy mice, his blanket and his treats. We set up a comfy spot for him in the closet of Murdo's old bedroom, with his water dish nearby. When I said goodbye to him right before we left, I was hoping it wouldn't be the last time. But I knew it was a possibility.
Tim had been suffering from chronic renal failure for more than two years. His kidneys were no longer working like they should've been, and after a week spent at the vet's office two summers ago hooked up to an IV and barely eating, we all thought he was going to die. Although he lived, and fought, and showed us just how strong of a cat he could be each day for the past 25 months, the last few have been very rough on him. Just a few weeks ago, he was diagnosed with anemia, making him very cold and weak. He wobbled when he walked. He didn't always make it to the litter box. There were good days and bad, and then, more bad days than good. When we left him last Friday, he was still getting worse.
We were supposed to be gone for nine days, and we knew it would be hard on him. We thought he would make it, that he would wait for us. After eight days, we knew he was hanging on by just a thread. Murdo took an early flight back to Chicago on Saturday afternoon, and Tim died in his arms that night. He was 15 years old.
We keep saying that he was waiting for Murdo. That he was waiting for him to come home. He was too weak to walk or even lift his head at that point, but when Murdo got there and picked him up, Tim started purring. Murdo packed up his things and brought him back to our apartment, and after carrying him through the door, Tim took a few sniffs and knew he was home. His head went limp, and he was gone.
He died in Murdo's arms. He knew he wasn't alone or abandoned. He was surrounded by familiar smells and wrapped up in a loving heartbeat. In the same arms that held him 15 years before during a near-death experience as a kitten, rushing to the emergency clinic due to an allergic reaction. He lived through that, too, and spent the rest of his life as Murdo's best friend, companion, family member, and for the last six years, mine as well. He was a well-loved cat, and he lived a good, long life. With warm blankets and long naps. Scraps of lunch meat in the kitchen and cat nip on his toys. Late-night hunts for packaged bread. Lazy afternoons in his favorite grassy spot. Lots of lap time, and chest time, and spooning time. He was the kind of cat who even cat-haters loved. Thinking about these things makes it easier.
The little things that he left behind, however, don't make it easy at all. I came home on Sunday night to an apartment that felt incomplete. His food dish is still sitting out by the hallway, and every time I look at it, I see him there, waiting to be fed. I see him sitting outside the bathroom door when I'm getting ready in the morning. I see his sweet face looking up from the floor next to me as I write this. He's still here with me, and while I never want him to leave, this presence he left behind makes my heart ache.
When I finish writing this, I will get up and clean his food dish. Tomorrow, I will gather up and wash the towels we kept on his chair when he could no longer control his bladder. We will return the remaining unopened cans of his kidney diet food to the vet. We will keep our ears and eyes open for a pair of kittens, a brother and a sister duo, who will help make our little family complete once again. We will move on, and we will always love him.
Tim is buried in his favorite spot in Murdo's old backyard. There is a mound of rocks covering his grave. Below, he sleeps curled with his toy mice -- one to lay with, and one to play with. And there is a jar, with a piece of paper on which Murdo wrote:
R.I.P. Tiny Tim Yahsuh MacKenzie (Yah) the Unblinking; Barn Born and Barely Housebroken, the Lord of the Back Yard, Converter of Cat Haters, Survivor of State College and Constant Companion, Him Who Was Not To Be Denied. Here lies the best cat that ever lived, and an even better friend. Loved by many, forgotten by none. We will meet again.
Two years ago, Death stared Tim in the face. He never blinked, but one day we all must close our eyes.
it is so heart wrenching to lose a furry family member, fur or not, they ARE family. this is a lovely tribute to your sweet furry friend and it sounds like he was lucky to have such a long existence full of all the love his heart could hold. best wishes during this time of healing.ReplyDelete
I'm so sorry Jacqui. That was a beautiful post. Tim was an incredibly loved cat.ReplyDelete
Oh Jacqui. What a heartbreaking and beautiful dedication.Your words brought me to tears. My thoughts are with you and Murdo during this rough time. My husband lost his childhood companion, Marlon the dog, a little while ago and we will always miss him. Sometimes we forget he is gone and look for him in the backyard or in his favorite spots. I am glad Tiny Tim died in loving arms at home.ReplyDelete
Oh my gosh, Jacqui—my heart aches for you and Murdo. My eyes welled up more than once reading this; we adopted a "senior" kitty, and I know she'll be facing these kinds of health issues sooner than we can bear. It sounds like Tim weathered the health problems with as much grace as he could, and I can only hope he's at peace now.ReplyDelete
Hugs to you as you deal with losing your sweet, small loved one.
So very sorry for your loss. I know all too well the pain of saying goodbye to a beloved pet. We had our bulldog for 12 years - longer than the expected lifespan of the breed and we are thankful for each one of those years, even those after he became a grumpy old dog. From these photos, it is clear that Tim was well-loved and well-lived. My thoughts are with you, Murdo and dear Tim.ReplyDelete
Tim seemed to be a fighter. How wonderful it is that he had such a very loving family. Beautiful photos and a beautiful story. Brought me to tears. His memory will continue to live in your hearts.ReplyDelete
beautifully written, powerfully heartbreaking post. i feel your and murdo's pain, jacqui, and that not only shows me your amazing gift but also your genuine love. sending you a giant hug, my friend--along with the hope that every sweet cat gets owners as loving, loyal, faithful and nurturing as you two.ReplyDelete
I lost my 17 year old cat in March last year and even with all the time that's passed I still feel him in this house, by my side; I still think he's going to come running when I open the cupboards or fridge, and I keep thinking I still see him at my feet as I cook, hoping for a snack.ReplyDelete
He'd been a part of my heart from the time he was 4 months old and he will never, ever leave it. Tim was blessed by your presence, as you were blessed by his. That won't ever change. And this was a beautiful tribute to a faithful friend.
Oh Jacqui, what a beautiful tribute to a well loved member of the family. My heart goes out to you and Murdo and the rest of the family.ReplyDelete
I was tearing up as I read this. I'm so sorry for your loss.ReplyDelete
I actually cried while reading this. I'm so sorry for your loss but this post was a beautiful tribute to a dear friend.ReplyDelete
I'm so sorry for you and Murdo. What a touching story of a brave kitty...ReplyDelete
I'm so sorry, I found your post so touching, I hug you both guys...ReplyDelete
I have a cat that looks just like Tim, his name is Frijol. My mom owns one as well, the same look, and he's an old sweet cat.
More hugs and Tim had a beautiful life with you, where he is right now, he is very happy and peaceful.
What a beautiful dedication to a loving pet. I'm sorry for your loss.ReplyDelete
I just got a kitten last year and the thought of even losing him now worries me. I'm so sorry you had to lose your little buddy.ReplyDelete
Such a beautiful post... I'm so sorry for your loss.ReplyDelete
Thank you all for your sweet comments! It's been more than a week since Tim died, and I still can't believe he's gone. But we're getting through each day, and it's getting easier with time. Thank you for your kind words. You guys are amazing.ReplyDelete
I've read your blog for a while but haven't commented before now.ReplyDelete
What a beautiful, touching post - like others here, I cried reading it, as I love animals and your little kitty looked so sweet.
So sorry you lost a member of your family.
So sorry to hear of your loss. This was a beautiful post, he was a wonderful cat. I have no pets but it brought tears to my eyes. Hang in there, sending you warm thoughts...ReplyDelete
Sorry to hear about Tim, Jacqui. I hope you & Murdo are doing ok. Tim was such a loved cat.ReplyDelete
oh, this post just breaks my heart. it's so hard to say goodbye to furry children - i remember when my childhood dog got sick and i knew it was just a matter of time, and i'm still heartbroken that i wasn't able to say goodbye to her. as awful as it is to lose your pet, i'm so glad murdo was able to be there with him at the end. sorry for your loss, and i hope you can find some new sibling kitties soon to try and fill a bit of the hole tim left behind.ReplyDelete
Just read this. I'm crying. What a great little kitty.ReplyDelete