Here is Sinatra after we brought him home:
He was so sweet, and so energetic! We weren't supposed to have pets in our apartment, but we figured a cat would be quiet enough. We didn't take into account how destructive they can be as kittens. We chose to get him declawed because being in an apartment, he would stay indoors. He quickly became a cherished member of our family. It took Jeremy a while to warm up to him, but he and Sinatra quickly became buddies....always have been. I always joked that I saved that cat's life, but he liked Jeremy more than me. He loved to sit up on the back of the couch, resting on our shoulders. He also liked to curl up in my lap when I was working on my computer. His favorite place to sleep at night was curled up in the bathroom sink. He got loose a couple of times, but luckily, we always found him.
We stayed in the mountains for a year. I got into grad-school at ECU, so we went back to Greenville with Sinatra in tow. He was a great traveler and loved riding in the back of the car. He quickly became a very large cat. We joked that since we got him in the mountains, he was bound to be a big cat....our mountain cat. When we moved to Greenville, we added a puppy to the mix...Tucker. Sinatra wasn't too fond of Tucker at first, but soon grew to love him. They became fast friends...chasing each other, sharing water (and food), cleaning each other, and sometimes catching a nap together. Sinatra loved being outside, so we let him out in our fenced-in-backyard whenever we could. He'd stretch out on the concrete and get nice and toasty in the sun.
The years went by....Ayden was born...and the pets dropped a notch on the totum pole...as per usual when a baby enters the mix. Sinatra was no longer allowed to sleep on our bed, but he still got his fair share of love. When Ayden passed away, our pets helped get us through. They gave us outlet for our attention. And because we needed a little bit of grace....and we wanted to give some as well...we adopted Gracie, our yellow lab, from the shelter. She was a new focus....someone I could "save." While Gracie stayed outside, Sinatra was still king of the house. He always has been.
Then Collen was born....and the cycle continued. We moved again to another house....one with carpet. So, poor, shedding Sinatra was banished to the laundry room at night. But during the day, he had the reign of most of the house while Tucker stayed put away in the kennel. Again...king of the house. He gradually became bigger and bigger and we were always concerned about that, but we just thought he was a big cat. He had an episode with a rotten tooth, and the vet showed concerns about his heart at that time but said it could just be because of his size. There was a "shadow" on the x-ray, but he wasn't sure what it was. That was about a year ago. Since then, we had noticed him getting a big slower...a bit more lazy...but we attributed that to him being a cat. He was eating, drinking, being sweet and always seeking attention...he seemed fine.
Earlier this week, I posted about having him groomed. His hair gotten to be too much for me to handle on my own. I would normally brush him and cut out the matted parts, but it had just become too much. So, we decided to take him in to be groomed. Because he's a cat, we agreed it would be best for him to be sedated. He had preciously bitten someone at the vet's office when they were trying to give him a shot (umm...if you put a towel over my head and stuck me with a needle....I think I'd bite, too....), so they didn't want to take any chances. When we got him home from the grooming, he was still pretty out of it. He seemed to come around, though, and he was eating and drinking like normal. However, we noticed that his breathing was labored and rapid. We decided to give it a day or two and see if it would right itself...maybe a result of the sedation. Thursday morning, I woke up to find diarrhea on the rug and carpet by the door. He had no control what-so-ever. I cleaned it up...cleaned him up....and went to work. We shut him in the laundry room that day to be safe. We came home to more of a mess, and he wasn't eating. We decided to keep an eye on him overnight. The next day, it got worse and we found blood mixed in. Jeremy took him to the vet, they checked him out, told us that blood was normal (what?!), and they gave us some medicine to help. Well, trying to give a cat medicine is nearly impossible. We would have to pin him down and try to force it into him. That usually resulted in him spitting most of it out and him getting so stressed out that we felt it better to let him be so he could rest. He continued to extract blood....no more food mixed in because he wasn't eating. The next morning, Jeremy took him back in for an x-ray to see what was causing the breathing problem. The vet said he had fluid on his lungs. They had to gas him for the x-ray, and Jeremy says he remembers the emergency vet saying (when we had the tooth issue) that he would have gassed him for the xray (I believe they checked his breathing then, too, because they were concerned), but in case of a heart condition, they didn't. We were given meds to help pull the fluid from his lungs. During the day Saturday and into today, his breathiing seemed less labored. But he was just so tired and weak. We had been giving him baby food - pureed meat to help mix in the meds and entice him to eat. He did eat some of it, and we felt hopeful that he was getting his meds and would be on the mend.
This morning, we checked him...no diarrhea since yesterday morning. Seemed like things were going better. We let him out to walk around and be with us....because that's where he wanted to be. He jumped up into his favorite chair (jumped! When I saw that, I thought...Yes!! He's improving!!) and slept there all afternoon. Collen kept going up to him saying, "Cat. Night, night." and bringing him his ball and books to read. Collen would walk up to him and rub his head or his belly...so tenderly and sweetly. Later, he followed Jeremy and I into another room while we put some boxes in the attic....stayed right there with us. He eventually crawled into Tucker's kennel, and we left him in there to rest.
Tonight, as I was putting Collen to bed, Jeremy was trying to get Sinatra out of the kennel so Tucker could get into it. I heard Sinatra just crying...moaning...you can never mistake that sound for anything other than pain. My heart broke, and I wanted so badly to be with him. Once Collen fell asleep, I went in to check on Sinatra. Jeremy was trying to get some medicine in him, and he wasn't having it. He took a little, and then Jeremy tried one more dose of the meds for diarrhea. He got it into his mouth, Sinatra took it...reluctantly...then began stumbling around. This wasn't unusual behavior as of late, but it was different. He had been walking fine this afternoon. He kept trying to scurry to the carpet, but we kept pulling him back onto the kitchen floor. At this point, he had expelled more blood. I told Jeremy, "I don't see why they would tell you the blood is normal. This is NOT normal." Before that, Jeremy told me he thought that Sinatra would die....I didn't want to hear that, so I admit, I became a bit snappy. I didn't want to believe that he would give up, but it certainly did seem like that was what he was doing. He couldn't fight anymore....he didn't have the energy or the will. Anyway, after he stumbled around, I got him to stay with me. I rubbed him and tried to calm him down. He got up again, then fell to his side. At that point, I lost it. I knew this wasn't normal....and it broke me to see him struggling so much. We decided to get him back into the laundry room onto his towel where he could rest. Moving him was more like sliding him because he just wouldn't move. As Jeremy slid/moved him into the laundry room, he let out the most heart-wrenching cries I've ever heard. I knew he was hurting. Jeremy immediately got on the phone with the emergency vet. I went into the laundry room to sit with Sinatra and rub him. I put my hand on his chest, and I realized he had stopped breathing. I waiting a few seconds to be sure, then I moved him foot a bit. It jerked back at my touch, and I thought...okay...he's just breathing too shallow. No, it was a reflex....he legs stretched out, and I saw his belly jump. I told Jeremy he had stopped breathing and when I was sure, that he was gone. And that was it. He died with me rubbing him, begging him to breathe.
I wrapped him up in his blanket, and when I saw his head lean back, I knew it was over. He just couldn't do it anymore. My assumption is that it was a heart attack. I don't know if it was a result of the sedation, stress from the sedation and grooming, or the gas....or all of it combined. I feel so guilty about it....like it could have been prevented, but I know it isn't fair to think that way. We had no way of knowing, and we still don't know what caused it. It seems like it was inevitable, since we did know about his underlying heart condition, but that never prepares you. We had no idea something like this would happen, and it has torn us up to watch him go through this the past few days. Our every thought...waking and going to sleep...has been about him. Checking on him through the night, cleaning him up, begging him to eat, and praying so hard that he would pull through.
Losing a child and a father have by far been the hardest things I'll ever go through. But this still hurts. A lot. We cherish our pets because they give unconditional love....they bring such a richness to our lives that we often take for granted. Yet, they love you just the same. I've never watched anyone/anything die. I'm glad I was there with him as he went. I wouldn't change that for the world. I just hate that he was hurting. However, he went fast...so fast. He just went off to sleep. Although my perspective is different now that I am a parent...especially a parent who has lost a child...it still isn't east to lose a pet. Yes, he was an animal. Yes, my children's lives and well being are more important. But, a part of my heart will always be with my first pet...my first of my very own. The one who saw ME as owner and friend.
Jeremy and I have both said that after Tucker and Gracie go, we don't think we could ever have another pet. It's just too, too hard.
Good memories...so many of them. Sinatra will always be with us.
Love you, sweet friend.