Friday, December 5, 2008

A Sad Loss Today

The death of a pet can be a time of sadness and reflection. Our family experienced that today, as we put our cat Fireball to sleep. In recent months, he was plagued by thyroid issues. He would eat and eat and lose weight. We tried medication to control the thyroid issue. While it worked, to a degree, it left Fireball weak and the process aged him rapidly.

Before the medical issues, he was a playful, energetic cat. We rarely called him by Fireball though. Because of an early flatulence issue, as a kitten, we sometimes called him Stinkbomb. Mostly, we called him Dumbo. He was not exactly the smartest of animals, but he was lovable and he was ours. He reminded me of Runt, the dimwitted dog, from Animaniacs.

We brought Fireball and Bugsy into our home in June 1994. We had recently lost a brother and sister pair of cats. The sister, who was 20, died in 1993. The brother died at 21, in 1994. We originally went to the Animal Welfare to pick out one cat. Fireball and Bugsy were the final two choices. We couldn't decide, so we ended up adopting both.

They were quite a pair together. Busgy was the Alpha. She was also the runt of her litter. Bugsy would figure out things around the house that no other cat prior to her ever did. We had to install latches on closet shutter doors because she figured out a way to open them.

Bugsy and Fireball would play, run and wrestle together. Bugsy even helped one of our family cats choose a permanent home with me. She drove my cat, Bitsy, into my arms, due to her tyrannical ways. Bugsy would even slap our Terrier/Chow mix dog in the mouth repeatedly. It was Bugsy's house and Fireball was along for the ride.

We had to put Bugsy down a few years ago. She had tumors between her heart and lungs. Even if we had caught it earlier, there wasn't much we could do about it. It was hard to do, but it was the right thing to do. Bugsy kept the pain hidden so well, that by the time she let on, it was far beyond help.

Fireball would go on searching for his partner in crime for months after. You could tell that there was a void in him, which could never be filled again. Soon, he was back to a more normal behavior... for him at least. He was now king of the castle. He didn't want that. He just wanted his playmate back.

In the past month, Fireball got worse and worse. His medication wasn't working like it used to and he was becoming a shell of himself. Last night, all he was focused on was finding a way to get to food. Food, other than his normal food that is. By this time, he was skin and bones. He had an appointment to see the vet on Friday. We were hoping for some good news, but we all knew that it would never come.

Fireball passed away at the vet's office shortly before noon today. On top of his recent bouts with thyroid issues, his kidneys were now failing. The good news was that he didn't really feel any of that pain. He was too focused on the hunger associated with his thyroid condition. One of the hardest things to do as a pet owner is to make the decision to put them to sleep. We always let the vet make the recommendation. In the end, the decision is ours, but we like to hear all the facts in the case before making that.

I know that the time was right for Fireball to be put to sleep. That doesn't make it any less painful. Fireball, you will be missed.

11 comments:

Johngy said...

Steve-
My sincere sorrow on the loss of your pet.
I have been sad lately as I near the 1 year anniversary of the passing of my cat, Iggy. It was also Iggy's 16th birthday.
It sounds like Iggy and Bugsy had the same situation. Iggy's outward signs of problems appeared around 12/1. On 12/11, the decision to put him down was a very easy (although very hard) one.
My thoughts are with you and your family.

White Sox Cards said...

Fireball would have been 15, early next year.

The funny thing is that we still have cats that will turn 15 and 20 early next year.

Joe Swaykos said...

Sorry to hear, bro. Our pet recently got hit by a car, breaking her leg in three different places.

The vet gave the option of amputating the leg, but it seemed unfair to do to an eight month old cat (also the runt of her litter). Besides, it wasn't like it was a free alternative to surgery, which I'm sure you know.

Anyhow, although we've only had Bronx (wife wouldn't allow me to name our female cat Derek, Bernie, or any other Yankees player name) for three months or so at the time of her accident, we realized how quickly she's become a part of her lives.

Sorry for your loss.

Slette said...

I'm so sorry man... saying goodbye to pets is one of the hardest things a person can ever do. I'm sorry you have to go through it.

night owl said...

My condolences.

A year ago November, we put our cat, Maggie, to sleep. She had pancreatitis. It was far more difficult to say goodbye to her than I ever imagined.

Dave said...

I'm truly and deeply sorry for your loss, Steve. My cat is 12 years old and I know that when the day comes that we have to say goodbye to her, it will be one of the saddest days of my life.

PunkRockPaint said...

Sorry. You were lucky to have such a great pet for so long. I am sure he felt lucky to have you too.

Andy said...

Steve--you certainly did well by your cat. He was lucky to have been adopted by such a caring person.

I've got two dogs who are both nearing the end. I don't know how my wife and I are going to keep it together.

Kevin said...

Steve - A very well-written and heartfelt tribute. I'm a recently-converted cat person, and had to deal with loss right away. I wrote about it here.

White Sox Cards said...

Thank you, everyone, for your condolences. It really helped a lot today.

Bobble Mike said...

I am sorry to hear about your loss,Steve. We got our very first cat the other day(December 4)and I am wondering why we waited so long.Words can't describe the love and fondness we have for our first "baby." To lose Pixie(my wife named her) would be devastating even though she has only been in our lives a little over a day. But to no longer have Fireball's companionship after so many years has got to be very difficult. Much strength and peace to you during this time. Mike

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