Sunday, July 26, 2015

Rest in Peace, Pookie!

I knew it was coming and even wrote a preemptive eulogy about it a couple of months ago (this will make more sense if you read that entry first). So why was I so shocked when it finally happened?

I could see that he was getting weaker every day for the past few months, finally weighing in at a mere 5.7 pounds on the day of his death – less than a new-born infant.

And I remember noticing that he sometimes stumbled and fell when jumping into bed, something he never had trouble with in the past.

And I noticed how he had an almost permanent low grade cold these past few months, his nose constantly stuffed. He'd look better for a few days and as soon as we felt comfortable about his health, he would start sniffling again.

And I noticed how for the past few months he became quieter and more withdrawn, choosing to sit by himself under the dining table - instead of his normal routine of snuggling up with anyone and everyone.

Through it all, through all the months of sickness, he never complained – not even once. Even the nurses at the vet - two hours before his death - were amazed by how loving he was, calling him a "purr machine".

His decline was, thankfully, swift in the end. Yesterday morning he started wobbling and dragging his hind legs, had to be carried downstairs, and struggled to stand. He was dizzy, swaying and tumbling backwards, bumping into chairs and doors, barely able to take a single step.

Within an hour we were at the vet. Two hours later, back at home, he died quickly and quietly in my arms as one organ shut down after another. It all happened so quickly that I'm still in disbelief. This ball of love, this bundle of joy is gone and he has left a huge hole not just in my heart but in everyone else’s as well who came into contact with him.

I was convinced he was an angel. No earthly creature could be this loving. I even seriously looked into cloning him - ethical issues be damned. This gene cannot be allowed to die: it's pure love poured into a compact five pound package. I also jokingly claimed I was going to put him up for beatification: Saint Pookie, the patron saint of love.

He was a show cat for the first year of his life, a grand champion, before we got him from his breeder.

Due to some congenital disease (thanks to in-breeding), his jaws didn't open wide enough for him take a good bite. This meant he basically buried his face in the food to get a reasonable sized bite and, as a result, his face was always dirty.

We used to clean him obsessively at first:

But then we realized he didn't care and we loved him even more with his dirty face:

I held it together at the vet and even later – after his death - finding a place to cremate him and driving there. My wife accompanied me at every step. We cried a couple of times but I was mostly in shock and going through the motions. It was only when I got back home that I curled into a ball and cried my eyes out for several hours non-stop.

Not long enough.

Holy fuck. How do people who lose children go through with it? Holy fuck.

I guess I just assumed we would get a few more months with him.

My daughter called. I talked for half an hour like a normal person, hung up, and went back to the fetal position. Several of my friends called and texted. I didn’t respond or told them to go away. I needed to be alone.

In the end he went quickly. His eyes dilated, his breathing got shallower – so shallow that I thought he was gone. I touched him, he gave two long sighs and then he was gone. He must have been in pain, but he never complained.

Last night, I woke up several times with a start, tears forming in my eyes within seconds each time as the realization came back to me. Pookie is gone. My Pookie is gone. My wife reported a similar experience.

Memories keep flooding back to me aided by old photos and videos: of him "hiding" in a box:

Or "stalking" me from under a chair:

Snuggling with us under the blankets - just like a toddler would:

Massaging or grooming one of the other pets in the house (a daily occurrence):

Here is our other cat, Mishka, getting frustrated with Pookie’s perennially dirty face and doing the licking for him:

The memories are sweet and tender. The tears are because I suddenly realize a few seconds into the recollection that Pookie is gone. A huge part of our lives has been extinguished. Sweet Saint Pookie is gone.

Should my wife and I be accused of animal cruelty, I wondered.  Here's a clearly sick old cat. Why didn't you take him to the vet sooner? Perhaps they could have saved him.

We made an appointment about a month ago to take him in for a check-up. Then Pookie spent the entire morning before the appointment purring on my belly, so clearly happy and content that we cancelled the appointment.

This cat was happy. This cat was loved and this cat loved everyone he came in contact with. Call me a sentimental fool for writing an obituary for a cat, but this was no mere cat. He was an angel.

May you rest in peace, Pookie. You gave us so much love and you will be missed dearly.


  1. May Pookie rest in peace. It is so hard to part from anything you are so lovingly attached to. But he is not in pain anymore.