Saturday, July 17, 2010

R.I.P. Smokey

For those who don't already know, my feline pal of 19 years had to be put to sleep this past Thursday (July 15, 2010).  A week prior, he decided to stop eating, which wasn't immediately alarming since he had been eating less as of late.  Within a week, he was becoming depressed and more lethargic, and I could see in his actions and condition of his body that the end was near.  The vet confirmed what I already knew:  Basically, his kidneys had almost completely failed, his body was no longer able to take-in water (even though he was still drinking), and that he was effectively starving himself to death.  I felt that it was inhumane for him to suffer like this, and made the decision to end his life...which, as in any case like this, is not one that is easy emotionally.

In the past 19 years, this little guy was a big part of my life...
  • I got him from a neighbor when he was just a few weeks old (the result of the same neighbor not getting their cat spayed).  They brought down the kittens in a paper bag, and asked if anyone wanted one.  I picked Smokey up, and he ran up my arm onto my back and wouldn't let go.  I remember saying, "Well, I guess this one's mine!"
  • He lived in 8 different places and two cities over the course of 19 years.  Yes, that's how many times I moved.  Ugh.
  • When I got Smokey, I was doing Geographic Information System (GIS) software development at a GIS software/hardware company for a living.  He was with me through my transition from that, through a layoff, and to my current career as a systems/network administrator.  That is a lot less trivial than it sounds.
  • I've had some of my darkest moments and some of the best times during the past 19 years.  He's been by my side through all of them.  I sometimes wonder if he would have continued to put up with me if he hadn't been held captive...but then again, I'm sure he thought the same thing sometimes...
  • Smokey was, indeed, a "Native Texan."  Unlike his owner...but his owner "got here as fast as he could..."
  • During his final years, I actually had guests over somewhat regularly and he became more well-known as the host than I did, always circulating through the group and making sure everyone was doing fine.
I'm not sure that I can say that everything I know about life I learned from my cat, but I can say that I did learn an awful lot from him.

It's clich√© to say that I couldn't replace Smokey with another cat...but in this case, that is really the truth.  This was a feline with great personality and a great presence.  He made friends with people in just about any situation, even people who didn't like cats much.  For now, I plan to set aside getting another cat so that I can take some time out from that responsibility and take care of myself a bit (something that has been neglected for a while).  I still plan on volunteering down at the Humane Society (doing cat socialization), and will probably take one home eventually.  While I don't enjoy the sadness that accompanies the loss of a good friend, I am trying to see the positive in all this.  None of us live forever.  There are a lot of cats that suffer as strays, feral cats, or cats that have cruel, irresponsible, or just plain stupid owners.  Smokey had a great 19 years (even though we had some fights of our own occasionally).  Not only did he have a good life, but a life longer than many cats do.  This is the important thing.  Yeah, I guess that's another thing I learned from my cat...

1 comment:

Toni said...

There will never be another Smokey. Just like there will never be another OJ.

I'm so sorry for your loss.