Posted by: AgingChild | October 24, 2008

“…Burning Bright”

The following is an email I sent out earlier today to family and some close-to-home friends:

It is with great regret and deep sorrow that I announce the passing this afternoon of Johannes-Tiger Bosco-Childe.

Our Maine coon-cat had recently been showing very troubling signs of a flareup of his previous kidney problems – obvious pain (he’d taken to crying), loss of appetite, and so on – so I brought him to his veterinary office yesterday. Test results (urinalysis, X-ray, EKG, etc.) indeed showed urine crystallization, and a pink tinge that indicated a possibility of blood; his heart – and this was new – showed serious enlargement (likely feline cardiomyopathy, though no trace of a murmur). Further results are due Monday.

When I picked him up this afternoon and brought him home in his carrying-cage, he was expectably vocal about not wanting to be in it, and just wanting to be back home – almost leaping out of the cage (I’d left its gate open) before I could get us in my mother’s front door. Once in the house, he wasted no time getting out of his cage, and headed for the steps to the basement… and his litterbox, and Mother‘s bed (which he’d taken to sleeping under). But he stopped at the stairwell doorway, hunkered down almost sphinxlike, and started his pain-cry again. I petted and soothed him, and after a bit he got up, went down to the top step / landing… and started crying once more. I kept him company for a bit longer, but needed to return to the vet’s for his medicine.

When I got back maybe fifteen minutes later (~3:30?), he was still there… and had simply rolled onto his left side, and already breathed his last. He was still warm, and soft… and already gone.

The veterinarian was as shocked as me when I got hold of her – I was still stroking Tiger there on the step – and she ventured that it was likely the stress of the trip to her office and back had been too much for his heart, and I’m inclined to concur. She explained that Tiger had shown no signs of distress, or even given cries of pain, while there at the office; if they’d suspected in the least that there was the chance his heart would let go, they’d have kept him there.

I reached my older daughter Shellie at work after a bit, and let her know – Tiger had been her baby, ever since we inherited him from Mrs. Bosco most of ten years ago (we figure he was about fifteen). Daughter-two Portia, too, has been deeply fond of him, and remembers overnights a few years ago when we’d get up in the dark and brush him and giggle at the static-electric sparks; Tiger never minded the attention, of course. And Mother loved – loves – him with the particularly rich fondness only mothers can exhibit.

I found it was hard to keep the tears at bay while telling Shellie – and I’ve never been one to elevate our pets, our family-companions, to fellow-human status, nor mourn their passing in the same way I’ve wept at the end of friends’ and relatives’ lives. Still, there is a genuine bereavement to my heart. And I don’t have a clue how to break this to Mother… and so I won’t, and would really encourage each of you to do the same, please. One failed heart (Tiger’s), and a couple broken ones (mine and my daughters’), is enough for now. Attached is a photo I took of him this past Saturday, there on the couch enjoying some late-afternoon sun; I’ll be going outside in a little bit to lay him to rest. That cat-embroidered pillow there behind Tiger in the photo, by the way, will be going with him, as will his brush (that latter being Shellie’s gentle suggestion).

Fur and Purr

Fur and Purr

Pets are not people, however warm and fuzzy (or feathered, or gilled, or scaled) and affectionate they can be… even while heroic at times. The passing of a pet – again, I need to use the word “companion” – , and especially one of many years, is nonetheless a sad event, and their fresh absence does of course leave a void in our hearts. In time, there’ll be another cat (or two) here, purring away and shedding and filling the litterbox… though not until after Mother‘s back home. For now, though, it’ll be a lot emptier.

Rest well, Tiger. Thank you for sharing your life with us.


A. Gene Childe


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