I’ve been re-living my entire adult life for the past two days. It’s amazing how these things can resurrect feelings and memories so vivid that it’s as though you’re actually experiencing them again. It was just shy of two days ago that my little boy cat, Mooey, suddenly and unexpectedly passed away at 13.5 years.
Mooey, the cat I thought would live forever if only to spite others. Mooey, the little boy who I adopted with my ex-partner as a Christmas gift for one another back in 2001. The cat who wooed every visitor to our home, who terrorized our dog (who weighs 5x what he did), who would cart around objects large and small most nights, his yowls directly proportionate to the size of his prey. Mooey, who at 13.5 could still leap to the top of the fridge from the floor in a single bound, and who hadn’t had a single sick day in his life. He was the longest, leanest cat I ever met, and that elicited comment from nearly all those he met.
I adopted Mooey as a kitten from the Ottawa Humane Society. He was plucked from their depressing Champagne Avenue shelter. I stood in their cat room, tears streaming down my face, devastated for the cats I’d have to leave behind. He was vocal and active from the moment I met him. I remember for a long time thinking he was a very lovely and social cat, but maybe not very bright; then one day, realizing he had managed to teach himself how to open a closed door using his paws and thinking, “that cat is a genius.”
Mooey represents the thread that ties together all of the chapters of my adult life. He was there through all of it, purring, biting, and howling. He provided affection, entertainment, and would greet me at the door most evenings. When my previous relationship ended, we split up the cats. There were three; I took two – Mooey and Chewy; he took Pesto, who died just a few months later of a known (but undiagnosed) illness. After we buried her we never spoke again; it’s been nearly six years. Mooey’s death resurrects the pain associated with those losses as well. It reminds me of past poor behaviour and mistakes, and of the fleetingness of life. It reminds me of how lucky I have been to have the unconditional love of both people and animals.
My husband Yves and Mooey had a special bond. Yves would often walk around the house with Mooey draped around his neck. If the number of Facebook profile photos you post with someone means anything, then Mooey occupied a a place at the top of the hierarchy. Five of Yves’ profile pics have included Mooey. One has included me.
It was Yves who cried first when we realized that Mooey had reached the end of his road. The whole ordeal lasted just less than 24 hours; other than that, Mooey lived about 4,927 healthy and happy days. On Sunday evening, we noticed he seemed weak and lethargic. Figuring he had eaten something he shouldn’t have, we decided we’d take him to the vet if we didn’t see improvement by morning. For part of the night, he slept peacefully on my chest, with Freyja the dog lying uncomfortably beside us. We called the vet first thing in the morning when it was clear he was not improving, and I took him in at 1 pm.
The vet identified his ailment immediately (a urinary blockage) and I elected to have him unblocked (the other option was euthanization). They took him into the next room and his cries were blood curdling. I sat there wondering if I’d made the right decision to prolong his misery, while also berating myself for not bringing him in sooner. Even now, I wonder if bringing him in sooner would have made the difference. I agonized over walking that line between providing him with responsible care, and engaging in futile (and expensive) attempts at heroics that would possibly not even be in his best interest.
Mooey was stabilized, but at 5 pm I received a call from the vet. Mooey had taken a turn for the worse and was now on oxygen because he could not breathe on his own. We had a few options, but only one did not involve further agony for my little boy, and the other two still had more or less the same result – a prolonged death. We headed to the vet’s office to say goodbye.
We live only five minutes away, but Mooey died before we arrived. I know they did everything they could for him, but his little body couldn’t take it anymore. We had an opportunity to say goodbye to his corpse, and the tears flowed freely.
Later, my husband posted the following tribute to his Facebook, and I think it’s beautiful.
“The Moon tonight is a single cat’s claw. Mooey preceded us today into the oblivion in which we will ultimately join him. He’ll continue to live on, in our thoughts and memories, until we too are claimed by non-existence, and not a trace of his, or our, passage remains. That will do nothing to diminish the value of his company. He made us feel a little less lonely, and we loved him for it, even when he was irritating, which was often.”
Rest in Peace, our little boy. <3