Saturday, February 21, 2009

Good-bye little Caruso

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know that we adopted an elderly kitty in May, 2007. Caruso was fourteen years old when he joined our family, and was already in the beginning stages of kidney failure. But that didn't matter, because he and I bonded the very first time we saw each other (a good friend of mine claims that he adopted me, and I think she may be right). It took a while, but in time he became part of our family unit (although he and Harley, who is a typical tortoise-shell cat, complete with attitude, barely managed armed neutrality) and settled into a comfortable routine.

He would greet me every morning when I came out of our bedroom (the bedroom is Harley's domain, and Caruso never made it in there for more than a few moments before she hissed him out of the room), making it very clear that he needed his special wet food - NOW! I used to think about him as my little gray shadow, because he followed me around the house a lot. In the evenings, when David and I would settle in to watch TV for an hour or so, Caruso would leap onto the sofa, and curl up on the cushion behind my left shoulder, purring whenever I'd reach up to scratch his ear or stroke his silky, soft fur. Late at night, when David would sit in the living room, reading, Caruso would jump up onto the armchair, circle up to the top, and down the other arm, finally curling up in David's lap. It seemed as though he'd found his home, and I really hoped he'd stick around a long time.

But he began sliding downhill in late January. We took him to our wonderful vet, and discovered that his kidney disease had advanced - a lot. We came home with a bag of fluid and needles; David gave him subcutaneous fluids every morning and a quarter dose of Pepcid every night, to settle his tummy and (hopefully) allow him to eat more. We stopped giving him special cat food (for kidney disease) and began feeding him all kinds of different foods - whatever he'd eat. We even gave him a pill to jump-start his appetite, in hopes that he'd eat more and gain back some of the weight he'd lost. Everything seemed to be working for a couple of weeks. But a second blood test indicated that things were worse.
For over a week, one of us would sleep on the sofa in the living room so Caruso wouldn't be alone all night. When I did that, he'd curl up on my shoulder, close to my face, or snuggle close next to me.
A week ago today, just as our vet predicted, little Caruso made it clear he'd had enough of needles and pills - he stopped eating. I tried everything I could think of to tempt him. He'd come into our home office, where I fed him his special wet food, croak out a weak meow as if he wanted food, but when I'd put the dish down in its usual spot, he'd look at it and walk away. And he stopped purring. Completely.

On Monday, February 16, I called our vet's office and made what would be Caruso's last appointment. David and I drove there together, and I held little Caruso wrapped in a warm blanket (no more cat carriers for him). He perked up a wee bit, looking around curiously as we drove, but then he settled into my arms, quiet. We were taken to a private little room, and within ten minutes, sweet Caruso was gone. I still cry when I think about how I'd been kissing him gently on the head, telling him everything would be okay, and then - he was gone.
Even though we know that he was in a great deal of pain, and that ending his life meant ending his pain ... I still feel as if I betrayed him somehow.

Yesterday, I picked up a small wooden box with filled with his ashes. It's on my desk, just to my right, with a Tibetan Buddha sitting on top of the box, to protect him.

I loved the little guy, and I miss him.