I had to put my buddy to sleep today. I cry pretty easily, and I’ve spent hours over the last week crying about this day. I had hoped to have a couple more years with my pal, but we ran out of time.
Buster was an Apple-Head Siamese with seal-point markings, and had the sweetest face and gentlest disposition ever for a cat. Buster and his sister Chyna came to us through a cat rescue; they had been surrendered by their previous people because a new baby was in the house, and as we found out later, both cats are pretty barfy when they get hairballs, which is often, and at any time of the year. At the time we adopted them, we were trying to bastion ourselves against the loss of T’s elderly tabby cats, Scout and Smokey. It helped, as these affectionate Siamese did a lot to patch the holes in our hearts from the losses of Scout and Smokey over the span of three or four months three years ago.
Buster has had health problems as long as we’ve had him. The big one was inappropriate peeing, caused by pain thanks to crystals in his urinary tract. This is a common condition among male cats, but Buster’s case was complicated by having a narrow urethra – the vet told us the narrowest tubing available barely fit. Several thousand dollars later, Buster’s urinary tract exit was moved a little, and widened. Because of this drastic but potentially life-saving change, Buster never had problems with crystals again, but was highly susceptible to urinary tract infections. The last one he had — just a few weeks ago — upset his entire system, disrupting the normal functioning of his kidneys. Our regular vet once told us that one of two things typically kill an indoor house cat: Diabetes or Kidney failure. Not only did Buster now have the beginnings of kidney failure, he also had hyperthyroidism, and previously was diagnosed a type of lymphoma common in cats that lines the interior walls of their intestines with cancerous cells, making it difficult for the cat to absorb nutrients from food. Any one of these conditions is treatable though not curable; taken altogether, they represented a perfect storm, as it were, of conditions where the treatment for one could actually make another condition worse. Several rounds of visits and test results later it became clear that Buster’s days were numbered. The aggressive nature of Buster’s kidney failure indicated the prognosis was for weeks, perhaps months.
We started giving Buster sub-cutaneous fluids every evening, but it didn’t help enough. He was losing his appetite, and went from a ten-pound cat to under six pounds in only a few months. Stimulating his appetite became more and more difficult as the poor little guy could no longer get comfortable. It was clear we couldn’t wait much longer without him suffering and being in serious discomfort.
When our pets return the love we give them tangibly, demonstratively, as Buster did, we start to think of them more as people than as animals. I will miss his scratchy meow, and his bright, blue eyes. I will miss his affectionate little head butts, and the way he would cuddle up to me and purr. Sometimes he would start to purr just looking at me from across the room – how could you not love a cat so happy just to be with you?
Buster was my special guy. He snuggled his way into my heart like no other cat. I’ve lived with or been a cat-sitter for dozens of kitties, but with only one or two exceptions I’ve never known a cat as attached to a person as Buster was to me, and I to him. He was two months shy of his fifteenth birthday. I will miss my little guy.