I have never posted anything in any type of forum before, but joined this group last week as we mentally prepared to say goodbye to our beloved cat and companion, Alfie. Everyone here seems so supportive and “gets” what I am going through, and I thought that sharing Alfie’s story would be cathartic for me, even if no one reads it. I apologize if this is lengthy.
Alfie was 11 years old, but we only had him for just under 4 years. We adopted Alfie and his “brother”, Grizzly (who was 6 months older) from friends who had to find them a new home, together- they had just had a baby who had health issues and who had developed major allergies to cats and dogs. My now-husband and I were getting married in two months, and we always discussed adopting a cat after the wedding. But when I saw my friend’s Facebook post begging for help, everything just clicked and one day, we had two cats!
Alfie was the runt of his litter, was abandoned by his mom, he was bottle-fed and he had an upper-respiratory infection as a kitten that should have killed him. We were told that he wasn’t born “wired correctly” in terms of his health, but he was completely fine for his 11 years until shortly before he passed.
Alfie claimed me as “his” person from day one. He followed me everywhere. He cuddled with me all the time. When I left the house, he walked around complaining for an hour afterwards (according to my husband!). When I decided to leave an 11-year extremely stressful career, he was there for me in my times of stress and self-doubt when my job plans didn’t exactly work out the way I thought they would. He truly gave me unconditional love and got me through some very tough times.
We got even more attached to each other when I started working from home. My husband travels about 100+ nights a year for work, and we don’t have kids yet, so Alfie and Grizzly became my company. I leave the house a couple of hours a day to go to the gym or to yoga, but other than that, I’m home 90% of the day. Grizzly typically lays on the couch all day, but Alfie was so social- jumping on my desk to lay next to my computer (God forbid I gave my keyboard more attention than him!), jumping on my lap so I could hold him sideways while I typed with one hand. I even set up a food and water station for him in my home office. When he heard you lock the car and put the key in the door, he’d meet you on the stairs or get off the couch to peek his head around the corner to see you. He came running to you when you called him. And if you shook a bag of treats, he could be sound asleep in a closet in the top floor of the house, and he’d meet you wherever you were. We put a bed in front of our front door so he could look outside through the storm door all day. Moms who took walks with their kids were always saying hi to him through our front door. He loved Halloween because it meant seeing new people. He had the loudest purr to the point you had to make the volume louder if you were sitting with him while watching TV. Never bit or scratched us once. He was the best.
Alfie was diagnosed with kidney disease in February. Grizzly was diagnosed a couple of weeks earlier with diabetes, and we brought Alfie in for a check up as well because we thought he would also be diagnosed diabetic based on his increased drinking. I feel so foolish now hoping that he wasn’t (“he will never put up with the injections like Grizzly does”, I said). When our vet called with his bloodwork results the next day, I felt like the ground beneath me swallowed me whole. We decided that Alfie would definitely not tolerate IV fluids everyday, and that I would not torture him with that treatment for however many days/weeks/months he had left with us. We tried medication, vitamins- all which he either spit out, gagged out or vomited up. He barely tolerated the prescription food, so I used to mix it in with senior food until he stopped eating that and waited for Grizzly to finish so he could eat his leftovers.
Alfie was so spunky and had such a huge personality that we decided to make his time with us as enjoyable as we could. If that meant not trying to jam medicine down his throat, fine. If it meant giving up on prescription food and feeding him what he truly wanted, fine. My mantra was to take each day at a time and feel blessed if he spent the day happy and stable.
He was stable up until about a week and a half before his last day- about 5 months after diagnosis. We noticed that he was only licking the gravy up from his food, his hard food in his dish in my home office was untouched, and he only seemed to be eating treats. He also started becoming a lone wolf- hanging out in dark spaces upstairs in our house instead of being cuddly and social like normal. He went down hill so suddenly. We took him to the vet last Tuesday, August 1. We learned he had lost 4 pounds very suddenly and that his health was rapidly declining. Our vet told us that his hiding and lack of eating was his way of telling us that his body was tired of fighting. She was impressed he was able to have a fulfilling 5 months with us, since his levels were “through the roof”. She gently encouraged us to think about what we wanted to do, but that he would most likely be crashing soon, and that it was an ugly way to spend his last days. We knew she was right; we could see it in his eyes. His eyes were dull, there was no more spark. We knew we had to do right by him.
We spent Tuesday through Friday morning in one of our spare rooms with him- he decided to “nest” in that room in the last week. Coincidentally, it was the room we kept Alfie and Grizzly in when we got them for the first couple of days they were in the house. My husband and I worked from there, watched TV in there, slept in there with him. People came to say goodbye- our friends/their previous owners, my mom, the people who would cat-sit for us when we were away.
Our trusted vet came to our house on Friday at noon. He hated going in the carrier and hated the vet’s office so we knew we would like for him to spend his last minutes in a place where he was comfortable. Everything was peaceful as possible and we are glad we made this decision. He was on his favorite blanket and he was surrounded by myself and my husband, and we talked to him the entire time.
I just don’t know what I’m going to do. I feel as if there is a thousand pound weight on my chest that won’t leave. I spend my days concentrating on not breaking out into sobs. I find myself waking up in the middle of the night and immediately crying. I wake up in the morning and immediately start to cry. My husband left for a work trip this morning and I am beside myself. Please don’t get me wrong- I love our other cat with all my heart, but Alfie was just different. He was such a comfort to me and kept me from being lonely when my husband was away. I am trying to get back into my normal routine but I feel like I am moving through a fog. I feel like my house is empty without him. I know that this is only the fifth day, but I can’t imagine when I will feel better. I know we made the right decision, but I also find myself questioning everything I did for him- should I have forced the IV on him? Should I have tried harder to force the pills and prescription food on him? What could I have done to make him live longer than those extra 5 months? I am worried for Grizzly- although he wasn’t as attached to Alfie as Alfie was attached to him, they were together for 11 years. Will he be ok? Will I know if he is depressed?
Thank you for reading this if you made it this far- again, I apologize for how long this was. I just wanted to share Alfie’s story and say how much he means to me with people who “get” it. It is beautiful how everyone is so supportive of each other in this community.
Have a wonderful day.