Thursday, November 28, 2019

RIP Oliver Littlechap AKA Oliver Orange Cat AKA Sad Orange Kitty

I wasn't the biggest Game of Thrones fan, but I was engaged enough to keep up with it and certainly to feel the elation in Arya Stark's great moment as she restated the caveat from her childhood in a final episode.

What do we say to the God of Death?  

"There is only one thing we say to death. Not today."

For the past several months, that's been on my mind as Oliver Littlechap showed signs of decline. 

He was the third of four cats who came into our lives beginning in the late nineties. He arrived in 2005, was hanging out with some other neighborhood cats.  I was on my back porch slipping a treat to a neighbor's cat I had a bit of a relationship with and feared wasn't well cared for. 

When Oliver saw a treat, he wandered my way and looked at me hopefully. My first thought was to shoo him away, but he had a look that later earned him the nickname Sad Orange Kitty, and I'm a softy. Over a period of weeks after that, he worked his way into our lives without trying. He was an outdoor cat a while. Then an indoor-outdoor then...

He became the last feline standing a couple of years ago when Ash aka Ashley passed away following the deaths of our original cats Monty and Daisy. "It's his time to be the only cat," we said. "His time." He'd earned his spot at the center of our attention and our world. 

We'd long battled allergies with Ollie. He was FIV positive and we struggled most to control rhinitis, but when antibiotics did their work, even as recently as January, he'd sprint around the house and bounce from windowsill to furniture. 

More recently, other signs of decline had arisen, most notably weight loss. We'd had discussion. The day will come...

Yet we managed his symptoms and saw great days for him. He climbed into moving boxes and supervised as I prepared for our furniture for a move from Orlando to Williamsburg.

When he joined Christine in our new apartment, he was doing so well she feared he'd draw the ire of neighbors as he strolled through the place caterwauling.

That energy faded a bit, but he remained affectionate and close.

A while back, he climbed onto the sofa with me and I realized his pupils were unnaturally large. I knew from our other cats that meant a blood pressure spike. As with all things of that nature, something's causing it.

But what do we say to the God of Death? 

I took him to the vet and got him started on blood pressure medicine, and we got retinal reattachment that restored a good bit of vision for him in spite of those strained pupils. 

Then there was weight loss. The vet okayed Fancy Feast a couple of months back, and he ate joyously and we fed him freely. 

He also regularly took his place on my desk, my lap or at my side waiting to have his fur brushed, and all in all, he felt good. He slept occasionally on Christine's pillow. 

Last Christmas.
But nature will have its way in spite of all the management you do, and in spite of all the "not today" admonishments.

I went downstairs yesterday to find him lying on his side. He'd sleep that way sometimes, but I sensed something wasn't quite right. He didn't rise to wait at the edge of the kitchen for his breakfast.

At first I thought he wouldn't awake at all, but then I realized he was experiencing some distress, that he was weak. I thought it might be low blood pressure, so I fixed some Fancy Feast and helped him sit up. He devoured it. I remembered with a bit of guilt the time I considered shooing him. At least now, one of the last things I could do for him was give him food, food he enjoyed.

But he couldn't manage to keep himself upright. Christine and I got him on a cushion between us and kept him comfortable. I answered messages and emails, waiting until I could call the vet. Who knew Facebook battles could  be a bromide?

It kept my mind busy and off the inevitable. In a way I didn't want the vet's phones to kick over from the answering service to the receptionist, but the time had to come. I asked to bring him in. They said come on. Back of your mind, you think, maybe there's a shot, an IV drip, a pill.

And eventually the vet--a very sweet lady who'd traded off on his care with his primary veterinarian--eventually the vet--though not in so many words, though not wanting to step in for the God of Death said--Today.

He was fading by then, but she gave us a blanket, and we sat across from a statue of St. Francis of Assisi, the Brother Sun, Sister Moon saint. The Brother Dog, Sister Cat guy. The patron saint of nature and animals and little cats.

We sat with Oliver on both our laps and stroked his fur like we did on a thousand nights as we read or watched TV. 

Then he quietly left us. But we sat for a while.

Stroking his fur. Touching his head, remembering. Feeling sad but also thankful that he had been in our lives and part of lives for such a long, long time.

An early Oliver memory

1 comment:

Lovely Cie said...

Great readding your blog post

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