I suppose it had to happen eventually.
I keep in contact with those people who have adopted cats or kittens from me. I like to follow up on their progress and make sure everything is going well. Inevitably, I knew I'd get an update that would break my heart.
When he was mine I called him Encore, so I guess I can start with that. Encore's mother was listed on craigslist at 8.5 weeks pregnant. They wanted to give her away because they didn't want to deal with the unhappy children again once it came time to rehome the kittens. I contacted them and offered to handle the kitten aspect of things, if they wanted the mother kitty back and would pay for her spay surgery. They agreed, so Azula came to stay with me on February 15, 2012. February 18 she had 5 kittens on my laundry room floor--3 feet from the lovely queening box I'd set up for her. Four boys (Erek, Elvis, Encore and Echo) and a girl (Euphoria).
Once everyone was old enough and had been spayed/neutered, I adopted them out (all except Erek, who had a severe birth defect that required multiple surgeries--I ended up foster failing with him and he is still here, happy and healthy) and Azula went back to her owners.
Encore went to live with a coworker of mine who rechristened him Valentino, or Tino for short. I got updates on him frequently and the last time she moved he even came to stay with me for the night to make things a bit less stressful. But Tino is one of those cats who just isn't happy as in indoor cat. She tried...after months and months of him darting out of doors, nearly being stepped on, and crying at the window, she finally relented and he started going outside. He immediately made friends with one of the other cats in their neighborhood named Felix. Felix could have been a twin to Tino except that he was short haired.
Tino and Felix roamed the neighborhood together and were rarely seen out of each other's company. About a month ago, Felix died. He'd gone off into a secluded area and his owners searched for him with no luck. One day they heard a cat crying. It was Tino...he was sitting near Felix's body and his cries led Felix's owners to his body. Tino was broken hearted and spent several days moping around the house after Felix died, mourning the loss of his friend. With time, Tino got back to his usual self and resumed his daily routines.
Yesterday I got a call that stopped my heart. It was Tino's owner and she was frantic. She'd come home from work and found Tino near the door, with a bloody shoulder and what she suspected was a broken leg. They didn't know what happened to him, and still don't. It could be anything....hit by a car, attacked by a dog, fall from a tree...there's just no way to know.
She rushed him to the emergency vet. They did xrays and found that he had two broken shoulders and wounds on each leg. The vet told her that the initial treatment to stabilize him would run $1500, would probably include amputation of the worse leg (right front), and that even with all that, there could still be internal injuries or nerve damage and that his chances of a meaningful recovery were very, very slim. She asked me what to do.
I know what she wanted....she wanted my permission. She wanted to know I wouldn't hate her forever if she put him down. And it killed me to tell her that, but it wasn't about me. It was about what was best for Tino. I told her that the decision was between her and the vet, but that if he had no real hope of recovery, that it would probably be kindest to put him to sleep.
So Tino died last night. He's going to be cremated and he had a good life while he was here. But it was a desperately short life...he was only just 18 months old. He wouldn't have had things any other way, I am sure, because he was a true cat and did exactly what he pleased. But my heart breaks for him, and I look around my house....I have 7 foster cats here right now, one of whom is pregnant. I look at them and wonder how I am supposed to let them go out into the world, knowing that it's a dangerous place and that I can't protect them from everything. I look at his brother, who could practically be his twin, who is alive and healthy and happy, just like Tino was 24 hours ago, and wonder what I could have done differently that Tino might still be alive. I blame myself, even though I don't think his owner was a bad owner, and I don't feel like she did anything wrong for him. I know they won't live forever, but I wish they could.
I love you Encore. You were a goody kitty and you left us too soon. Now you are free to play with Felix again and pain and sickness will never be able to touch you.
Valentino February 18, 2012 to August 26, 2013.
Happy birthday babies:
They were just a few days old here:
About 10 days here:
Him and his twin brother, Echo. The only difference between them is the black spot on Tino's nose (he's on the right) that eventually spread to become a mostly black nose.
Playing with his brothers and sister. Left to right: Euphoria, Erek, Echo, Elvis, Encore/Tino.
This was him at about 9 weeks, when he was adopted:
His adoption photo:
Photo updates from his new mom:
And this, as far as I know, is the last picture taken of him: