Last week, we had to say goodbye to our beloved boy cat, Orion. Our precious O-boy.
We’ve worried about him for the past month — no, scratch that — the past year. Once a massive, solid cat, his weight had been slowly yo-yoing for at least a year, so slowly that as soon as we thought it might be serious, he’d start eating again. We’d had him to the vet and tried multiple types of food, but nothing seemed to last for long. It seemed to be related to hairballs, so we dealt with those directly. It wasn’t until January, though, when his eating habits grew worse and he was alarmingly thin, that his health became a major concern. Aside from the yo-yoing weight, he was healthy and happy and playful, up until then.
Over the month that followed, we had him to the vet three times, tried at least six different medications, and watched over him like hawks. He seemed confused, as though he didn’t know how to make himself feel better, and we didn’t either. And neither did the vet. Everything we tried worked for a time and he looked like he was getting better, and even started to put weight back on, and then he’d start to look uncomfortable again. This last time we had him to the vet, we agreed to exploratory surgery, which showed that he had massively enlarged intestinal lymph nodes with no known reason for it. The diagnosis was Lymphoma. Our baby boy had cancer. So we agreed to let him go. I left work early to go pick up my Hubby, and we went to the animal hospital to see his beautiful self one last time and say goodbye.
No matter how much death and loss I deal with, human or any other kind, it never gets any easier. We had O-kitten for 11 years, since he was 2 months old. We saw him grow from this tiny little thing, this mini fluff-ball with short-stubby legs and colorless eyes that could fit in a tissue box, into this big mini lion with a gorgeous, flowing mane and eyes that changed color depending on the light. He was the most loving cat I’ve ever known. He was mischievous as hell, always trying to get outside, because having us come outside to chase him down was fun to him. But when he wasn’t trying to start trouble, he wanted nothing more than to be held so he could wrap his arms around my neck and give me little love bites on my cheek. He just wanted to be cuddled, to know that he was loved, to tell me that he loved me by staring into my eyes and booping my nose with his. Having to live without him is heart-wrenching. I envision myself reaching out to hug someone, but that someone isn’t there so my arms and my soul just feel empty.
Of course I love my beautiful girl cat, his sister, but Orion’s death hits really hard. We adopted both of them at the same time. They were from the same litter. Aurorie shows no signs of sickness at all, but as a cat at 11 years old is a senior, the realities of a cat’s lifespan are right there in front of us. I could see Aurorie living another 10 years even, but still, the loss of her litter-mate indicates the beginning of the end, because I have vowed to take a break from pet-guardianship, even if just for a while, after these kittens are done with us.
I know I said this before. Our last cat, Paco, died back in 2005. I said the same thing, that after we lost him, I’d take a break from having companion animals. I’d spent my entire life having them, and as much as I love them and love having them fill my house, I wanted to see what it was like to just look after myself for a while. Of course 6 months before Paco died, I met these two baby fluff-balls and that vow went out the window. But as these two were the first animals I had ever adopted on my own, a choice I made as an adult, I’m just not sure if I can do it again.
I’m really not sure how people move on after losing an animal, how they learn to love another animal and accept them into their home and enjoy them for who they are without comparing them to the animals who had come before them. I don’t know how people can have a “favorite” animal, and still go on to love other animals. As much as I know that love is infinite, it’s still something I don’t understand. I’ve loved all the animals I’ve had in the past, and I miss them all, but because Orion and Aurora are ones I had chosen to adopt myself, it feels different. Maybe it isn’t, I don’t know. I don’t know much of anything right now, just heartbreak.
Maybe I’ll be able to have more animals in the future. A part of me hopes so, because having them in my life is such a beautiful, wonderful thing that I really can’t imagine my life without them. But maybe that’s just it — I can’t imagine my life without them. The only way to know what it’s like to worry about just me and Hubby is to have that.
In any case, I’m going to hold my Blinky girl close and hope that doesn’t happen for a long time.
Goodbye, my beautiful slinky O-boy kitten. Thank you for being a part of my life. You’ll be forever missed, and forever a part of me.