03. May 2008 · Comments Off on Elegy for Meek · Categories: Critters, Domestic, General, Memoir

Meek the cat had to be put to sleep this week. He was one of Blondie’s cats, the other being Sammie From Across the Road – like Sammie, he took a look at my daughter and fell into deep, abject adoration. Unlike Sammie who did have a home (although it was overrun with small, yappy dogs) and people who wanted him, Meek was a dumpee. That is, someone who had him as a pet, and thought enough of him to neuter him… and then dumped him. At some point the veterinarian deduced that he had been hit by something which had injured one of his legs, floated a rib which nature did not intend to float, and left him with a small hernia on his chest. Those injuries were at least a year old and healed without the aid of medical care. Until last fall Meek was one of the semi-ferals who hung around Blondie’s workplace, a former little frame house turned office premise just off the I-35 in Selma, Texas. There was a small coterie of these cats, some of whom were tameable and whom my daughter fed and worried over, especially when one of her favorites was hit by a car and killed quite messily. Meek was the other one. He took to following her into the office, waited for her on the porch and generally gave every indication of deep and undying devotion. One morning she left to pick up office supplies and Meek followed her car down the drive, out onto the access road and appeared to have every intent of following her onto the highway on-ramp. Obviously, he had decided that if he couldn’t live with Blondie, he didn’t want to live at all.

So he came home with her, after a short side trip to the vets, where he was given all the appropriate shots and tests, judged to be clean of feline AIDS, intestinal parasites and fleas (not ear mites, which proved to be persistent). He tolerated the dogs, formed a pair-bond with Percival, the little Russian Blue that I tamed with great care a number of years ago, and generally lived the lush life as a cat of the First Degree.

He was white, with brindle spots, and had beautiful jade-green eyes, which were set off by dark eyelids, as if some cat-beautician had lined them with kohl. He was a talky, responsive cat, and zeroed in on any lap with the speed and precision of a heat-seeking missile. He loved to hang out in the evening with us, watching TV in the den – if not on Blondie’s lap, on the arm of the sofa next to her or on the window sill above her head.

Late one evening this week, Blondie thought he seemed lethargic – and most distressingly, was straining over the litterbox without producing any urine. We know what that portends in neutered male cats. (I lost one of my early cats to it – an awful, heartrending experience at the vets’ and the cat still died of it.) Meek was at the veterinarians next day. Since he had eaten and drunk normally that morning, and was able to produce a small dribble, the veterinarian had a very cheerful prognosis; yes, it looked like he had a tendency towards feline cystitis. They gave him the first of his pills, advised us to switch over to a special food for this kind of problem and were about to release him to go home when he crashed right in front of us.

It looked and felt for all the world as if he was having a sort of feline panic attack. I had my hands on him; he was shaking violently and his heart rate was through the roof. The veterinarian said “Oh-oh… that doesn’t look good.” She asked to do some quick tests. They came back showing nothing good. He was already in crisis. There was a surgical option, but it cost a bomb and there was no guarantee. It’s a chronic condition – it could have happened again next month or next year. His old internal injuries may have even exacerbated that condition . So, we did the kind thing. Blondie held him. He was so happy to be in her arms, he was purring up to the very end. The veterinarian, who was also crying as she put the drugs into the shunt in his leg said “At least you can say that you gave him the very best eight months of his life!”. Last night, when we related this to Mom and Dad, (who have had to do this with about half a century’s worth of beloved pets), Dad said very kindly, “You can’t save ‘em all, you know.”

Well, you can’t – but you can give them the best eight months, or eight years, or whatever.

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