The week I began “the job of a lifetime” our family’s oldest cat’s health took a turn for the worst.
Last December I applied for a job as a reporter at the local daily paper here in the Ottawa Valley. I was hired and started the job at the end of February. I am still working hard on Ubiquitous and I still believe love and passion make the world go around – but unfortunately they don’t pay the bills. Plus, working at a daily newspaper is a great experience for any writer.
So, I began my job and our 17 year-old feline’s health failed. I adopted Fred on Halloween eve 1995. We had adopted his sister Winnie a week before from the Chilliwack SPCA. I went to pay for her, and picked Fred up, much to my husband’s dismay. We adopted them for our oldest daughter’s second birthday. They were very young – five weeks old- and sickly when they joined our family. They took up residence on our bed and slept on our pillows. They were grey tabbies and beautiful.
When we brought the kittens home our dog Shelby took on the role of parenting them. Hence, the kittens learned to run to the door anytime the doorbell rang, acting more like a dog than a cat. I enjoyed the company of all of them over the years, as they became part of my home.
Shelby was my walking partner and while my husband was away she was my protector and Winnie and Fred were my bedmates. As our family was posted across the country they moved with us. I am sure they travelled more than some Canadians. All of them flew from Vancouver to Edmonton. A few years later our cats flew to London, ON and when we were posted to Petawawa they drove up with my husband. Shelby travelled across the country with us to London, also.
During the second week at my new job I came home to hold Fred every night. Over the first few evenings he would be purring, softly. However, as the days passed and each night I took him to bed with me, I thought he would be gone in the morning. But each morning I woke up, shocked to see him still breathing. Yet relieved as he was still alive because he was all I had left from our “Chilliwack crew.”
On the Monday of my third week at the paper Fred was still alive but not doing very well, so we decided to make an appointment to put him down. That night I came home from work and held him as our family watched Lord of the Rings. When the movie ended I sat on the couch for a half an hour holding him, crying as I begged him to die.
We had to wait a couple of days until we could get him a vet appointment and it was killing me to watch him struggle. As he lay in my arms and stared past me, I told him it was time for him to go. He needed to be with his sister and Shelby, as they were waiting for him. I told him I would be fine without him and he needed to move on.
That night, as what had become our usual routine, I took him to bed with me, and at 2 am he howled a few times. I stroked his frail body, to comfort him, to let him know he wasn’t alone and it was okay. When I woke up his body lay still and he was dead.
On our way to the vet the next day to drop off his body my husband reminded me how our tabbies would often howl for each other. I will always wonder if he was howling for his sister in those final moments. I pray that he found her.
They are all gone now. They were my loyal companions for years. Fred’s death marks the end of 22 years of having the Chilliwack pets in my life – to have them all gone marks the end of an era for me.
Over the years I have learned that the only constant in life is change and as I move forward our family is not four-legged friend free. We still have our puppy Annabelle, who we adopted in 2009, Chris our stray feline from Edmonton plus our three most recent additions, Lexi, Cleo and Wookie, who found us. Sidebar: please spay and neuter your animals.