Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Just a Long Story

This post probably won't interest many people, but anyone is welcome to read it. There isn't a tl;dr version. This is more for me, to help me heal. I'm not giving cliffnotes.

Some of you may have read an earlier post titled 'Why Sir Whisky Is the Best Cat Ever.' This post is not as happy. After thirteen years together, I had to let my furry friend go this Monday (yesterday). It was a long time coming, but as we neared the end, S and I knew that it wouldn't be fair to Whisky to put him through any more.

For the past few days I've been reminiscing on his life, which has helped some. Now, I want to share it here because writing has always comforted me and I feel like I owe it to Whisky to share some part of him.

Sir Whisky came into my life when I was 14, in eighth grade, then known as Whiskers. I spent the day hanging out with a friend at a local ice skating rink (yes, ice skating in Florida) and when I came home, Mom sat me down an said she got me a cat. The problem? He was hiding under my bed and she couldn't get him out. Cue excitement and happiness.

As we pushed him out from his hiding spot and blocked every tight corner he could possibly squeeze into, Mom filled me in on Whisky's life. He was about four years old and was being advertised in the paper as free to a good home. Mom went to check him out and was told by his former owner that she needed to get rid of him because 1) her husband abused him and often kicked him; and 2) her husband's dogs terrorized him and he spent all day hiding, which is why he was severely overweight.

Another woman had taken Whisky home prior to this and brought him back only a few days later because he wouldn't stop hiding and she didn't want to deal with that. Mom had no doubts that there was no way in hell she was letting an innocent cat stay in an abusive home, and knew he would be perfect for me. So really, I got the most awesome cat in the world because my mother, too, is awesome.

Anyway, in his new home, Whisky was terrified. He trembled constantly and hunched whenever someone looked at him. He hid in his covered litterbox and his eyes were always wide with fear. It was heartbreaking. But I was determined to be a good kitty momma and spent every day, every possible moment, cuddling with him, petting him, talking to him, showing him that not everyone was an asshole who would hurt him.

It took a lot of time, but he got better. He became more active, stopped hiding, and enjoyed being pet. But, he never purred and he never rubbed up on your legs like a 'normal' cat. This is an important detail for later.

After a while, he got moved out of my room and introduced to the great outdoors. First he stayed on the porch and it was there that he got his new name. His original name was Whispers, but that's a weird name so Mom changed it to Whiskers, since he had crazy long whiskers, the longest I've ever seen on a cat. One day we were all hanging on the porch when he decided to take a few sips of a glass of rum and Coke. His nickname became Whisky Sour, shortened to Whisky (the "Sir" came much later, as I used to call him Mr. Whisky).

For years Whisky was an outside cat. He had an older sister, Jazmine, who passed away when I was 20 of old age (she was nearly 18). He also had a younger sister, Falkora (Falki), who died last year of an attack. Whisky was the weirdest outdoor cat ever. He never went anywhere and could always be found lounging on the back porch in the sun. He loved to stretch out on the table or chair, was always peeking in windows and doors, and could always be found at the front or back door as soon as it was opened. He never played much, but occasionally would be seen running from a lizard or bug (he was afraid of everything).

Random memory - being in Florida, we have a lot of hurricanes. Whenever a storm was coming, we'd bring the cats inside for safety. During one such hurricane, we couldn't find Whisky because he was hiding. Finally, I saw him huddled against the boat trailer tire. Though my mother was yelling at me to get my ass back inside, I ran outside into the rain and hurricane-force winds, crawled under the trailer, grabbed Whisky, and brought him inside the garage. One of my scariest moments ever, but totally worth it.

When I left for college, I missed him dearly. My mom used to hold the phone to him and say I was calling, and I'd hear his high-pitched meow on the other end. I knew he was in good hands with my parents, but always wanted to bring him home to me.

That opportunity came when my husband and I moved in together. It took some work, but we convinced our landlord to let us bring him. At first he was going to be outdoors, but after one trip around the yard on a leash I nixed that idea. We have a lot of birds of prey and they were all too interested in my chunky orange cat. Seeing as how Whisky would have just rolled over and let them take him away, I knew he wouldn't be safe and so he was indoors only.

Let's just say he took to being a full-time indoor cat pretty much instantly. The bed? Now his. The couch? No better place to be. The food dish? It better be full ALL THE TIME. And it was wonderful. What made it so wonderful? For the first time in his life, he started to purr. And once he started, he never stopped. I used to joke that his purrbox was broken, but finally being home with S and me changed all that. Whisky became quite possibly the most spoiled cat ever, which is how he got his full name. S once jokingly gave him a "voice" that ended up with a British accent, and we said he must be royalty. Hence, the "Sir." S used to make Whisky talk to me and it always made me laugh. Sir Whisky was quite snobby.

For a few years all was well. All was perfect. Then Whisky started getting sick a lot and losing weight. A lot of vet trips later, we learned he had ulcers and low-grade intestinal cancer. This was in March of 2011. He was immediately put on several rounds of medicine - steroid for the ulcer, antihistamine to counteract the steroid, chemo pills, and monthly B12 shots. He also went to the vet specialist every three months for checkups. Within this time, he also went deaf. The deaf part wasn't a problem except that he got SUPER loud - howling for no reason, making a racket at the vet - but he was never anything more than gentle. Whisky never bit or scratched anyone on purpose in his entire life, and I'm proud of that fact.

After his diagnosis, he got his medicine twice a day. It was a lot of work and a lot of money, and he was worth every second and penny of it. He was stubborn, which meant having to find different medication forms and various foods to appease his picky palate, but again, I went through it happily because it meant we got more time with him.

About a month ago, we introduced Finn, our new kitten. Like he did with Falki, Whisky growled and pouted for a few days but then they were best friends, cuddling all the time, grooming one another, and even playing together. He had a friend, a little brother, and it was perfect for that month.

But, as the cliche states, all good things come to an end. His health took a nosedive in record time, and I knew when he started sleeping under the table that he was sick, as that was his "sick spot." We hoped it would pass, like all the other times, but this one felt different. I think I knew deep down that this was it, but I took him in for testing and ultrasounds all the same.

The results? He was old (17) and the cancer was causing constant GI discomfort and nausea. His arthritis has worsened and his kidney levels were high, as was his blood pressure. The vet specialist put him on more medicine and said from now on, we would sedate him every three months for further testing. This was last Thursday. I knew then that it was too much. More medicine on top of everything else? Invasive tests every three months? Constant discomfort and nausea? What kind of life is that? I could look at him and tell he was miserable. He didn't eat. He could barely lay down without pain. He constantly had a dazed look on his face like he didn't know where he was. I knew.

I took last weekend to say good-bye. I stayed on the couch with him all day and night from Thursday to Monday morning, sleeping only when he slept, which wasn't often. Sunday both S and I cuddled with him all day while watching movies, and despite being miserable, Whisky purred every time we pet him.

Calling the vet Monday morning was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I argued with myself beforehand and nearly didn't do it. When I brought him in, I was worried they would make me feel bad, like I was just giving up, but everyone at the vet's office was incredibly compassionate and supportive, and told me it was better to let him go gracefully than to let him get to that point of severe pain and suffering. I felt better that I wasn't being judged, as stupid as that may sound considering the fact that this wasn't about me, but about Whisky.

I held him on my lap the entire time. He was given a sedative, and even with that sedative he still purred on my lap. To say I was a blubbering mess would be an understatement and to be honest, I don't remember much of what was said or done in that time. The rest I just don't want to type out.

We buried Sir Whisky in the yard with his blanket, favorite toy, and white sage. S planted this certain type of grass Whisky liked to chew on when he ventured outside (not often, and never past the front porch). Today I put some flowers out there.

I'm not quite sure what to do with myself right now. For the first time I have no medicine to give each morning and night. I have no howling to remind me that it's time for dinner (Finn is pretty quiet). There is no fluffy orange kitty sleeping in my spot on the couch. Last night I felt unbearably guilty, though I know I did all I could. Today I'm incredibly angry. Mostly, I'm very tired and miss him more than I thought I would. My friend Kristi pointed out that Whisky's last memory was of him being on my lap, being cuddled and petted and kissed by S and me. I take some comfort in that.

I've known this moment was coming but couldn't possibly be prepared for it. Whisky was part of me for literally half my life, and I feel like part of me went with him. I don't believe much in the afterlife, but I'd like to think he's waiting to help me cross the Bridge when my time comes.

Everyone who knew Whisky said he was a special kind of cat. Even people who don't like cats, loved him. Whisky was the perfect companion. He was always up for a cuddle. He loved riding in our lap during car rides and looking out the window. Every morning he could be found sleeping against S under the covers. And on his final day, he purred in my lap. I couldn't have asked for a better friend. He saw me through some hard times in life, and I hope I gave him a fantastic life of his own in return.


  1. Tears down my face. I never knew the whole beginning story of Whisky. He was so blessed to be rescued and loved by you. It explains so much about how he didn't rub up against me like other cats and scare me and why I took to him.. He was gentle..a kindered spirit. You gave him an amazing life that he so deserved and he gave you just as much in return. He opened my heart which had been closed to any animal since my puddle growing up. Such a little guy made a big impactI love you. Aunt Debbie

  2. You absolutely gave him a beautiful, precious life, and a painless, beautiful trip over the bridge. Kristi is exactly right, his last memory was feeling warm and safe and loved, which is the greatest gift that you can give an animal that you love. I have had experience with having to make that decision, and it is the most difficult thing I've ever had to decide, it hurts like hell and it's going to feel raw for awhile. But eventually the few sad memories of the last day with Whisky are going to fade and the whole lifetime of happy memories are the ones that are going to stick with you. And even though you will always miss him, that horrible raw angry ache is going to heal with time. Take some time to heal yourself. Cuddle Finn, and remember how much you and Sir Whisky love each other. I hope you find peace soon.

  3. You wrote this so beautifully and simply, Sesh. I gave tears because I know how much you love him and how much he loved you. I know that love for a pet so well, and my heart is with you as you take time to grieve and heal. No words can change any feelings but I send you love! -Brita C