I realized during these last few months that while I am a pet lover and always had animals growing up I had never actually raised one from baby to death before. Having divorced parents and school just caused things to work out to where I had never been around when my pet died. I'm hoping writing about my baby Bear will help me grieve properly because I don't think I have yet. So forgive me if this is a bit long.
It's hard to imagine it now but I got Bear when he was so small he fit in the palm of my hand almost. He was barely old enough to be away from his mom but my friend from work hand picked him from the litter as his favorite and gave him to me. That first night was a major bonding moment for me, he was crying in the bathroom so I brought him into the bedroom with us. I had read on the internet that putting a kitten on your chest helps them because they miss the heartbeat sleeping on their mom provides. Sure enough as soon as I put him on my chest he curled up and slept all night with me. At that moment he was my baby and I knew I would do anything for him.
My wife had never had a cat and was a bit tenative about having one around because her mom hated them and that rubbed off on her some I think. Shortly after getting him I had to go out of town for a few days for work. During that time she bonded with him as well and quickly fell in love with our little fur baby. I always kidded her (mostly kidding anyway) that she stole him from me during that time cause he always cuddled with her after that. I was relegated to the enforcer and chew toy role, but that was ok I loved playing with the little guy. He quickly developed this habit of chasing you up the stairs in our town house, especially my wife. If he was in the basement and he heard you start to go upstairs you could hear him sprinting up the basement stairs and across the floor trying to get to you before you got up the stairs to the second level. It was a game for us I would take off running and he would try to catch me..he always won. My wife on the other hand he would grab her pants leg and pull her pajama pants down without fail every time. I lost count of the times I had to pull him off her just so she could go upstairs lol.
One of the strange things about Bear was that he was just never a people person outside of us. For whatever reason the first time someone came over he hissed at them and ran away. He did this all through the years and it was just such an odd thing to experience. I was always apologizing to guests, no no it's not you he's just like that. It's a wonder nobody though we abused him or something. I only mention it now because later in life that changed some.
We spent 3 or 4 years in the townhouse with Bear and had a lot of great memories. The time I scared him so bad he left scratch marks in our new coffee table ( I still laugh, how can I be mad at him?) to the time he went after a bug and landed halfway up the curtains pulling the curtain rod off the wall (ok this time I was mad at him). Then there was the time he was sleeping on the platform we had in front of the window and he rolled over and right through the screen to outside. This scared the crap out of me, I ran outside and just saw a tail go around the building, I reach where he is and he was crouched low in the ground growling. He had never been outside so imagine his surprised to waking up in it after being sound asleep. I think this worked in our favor because over the years he never showed any interest in going outside, I think his one trip scared him. Unfortunately this is the time frame when we just don't have any pictures so this section is a little long since I wanted to describe some of the early life we had.
One of my favorite memories took place in one of our apartments in GA. Before I got diagnosed with sleep apnea I was sleeping on the couch, snoring was so loud it was just easier for me to sleep out there and save some fights with my wife. I woke up one morning and I had a cat stretched out right next to me on my body pillow. He was stretched out so far and I couldn't even tell he was breathing so I freaked out. I had to shake this cat 3 or 4 real solid times before he finally woke up and looked at me lol. I just loved that he would sleep so hard while right next to me on a couch. I just had to share that moment.
Ever since we moved back to Georgia we have lived in apartments, as a result he put on some weight since food was left out for him and he had no stairs to run anymore. At his peak I think he weighed close to 17 pounds, while he was a big kitty his healthy weight was closer to 13 pounds. Once we got our house 2 years ago I was hopeful some weight loss would occur because even though he was around 11 at that point he still played like a kitten. Unknown to me at the time he would lose weight...too much weight and for the wrong reasons but I'll get to that in a minute. Once we got the house the weirdest thing happened, our anti social cat became social at the age of 11. I don't know why being in the house triggered it but within a week of moving in he wasn't hiding anymore and even pestered the cable guy who he let pet him! On top of that I was suddenly more than the chew toy, he would sleep with me a lot in my recliner which was great! So for the first 20 months in our house we had a new socialite with us. Sure he hid upstairs if a bunch of people came over but when the numbers were small he would hang out.
During this time people would comment on how thin he was getting, he had been fat for so long we thought he was finally at a healthy weight. I should have paid attention better when my mother in law said he was too thin but I didn't. In December he seemed to be breathing harder, I said maybe we should take him to the vet to be safe but the next day he seemed better again so we didn't. When we took him to the vet a year prior they wanted to clean his teeth but we just didn't have the money at the time so we didn't. While they might not have changed his situation much the we didnt's are really tearing me up right now.
Most of the rest of the story you know or can read in my thread in health and nutrition. He battled so hard right up to the very end, I can only imagine how tough he was considering he was acting perfectly normal right up to the day he started breathing with his mouth open in February. When the dosage of lasix was increased he stopped eating again and after he still wasn't eating when the dose came down we decided that it might be time. We were going to give him the weekend to see if he might rebound and then schedule the in home service sometime this week. Friday night I could tell he was breathing really hard again and would be suffocating soon and so we decided it was time to do it sooner, we owed our brave little boy that.
The people that came to the house were so great and made everything so much easier. They gave him the first shot to sedate him and warned us in advance that since he was obviously struggling to breathe he might die just from that shot. Sure enough he almost completely stopped breathing from that and they rushed the 2nd shot and after a few seconds our baby was gone. I know it was time and I know we did everything we could for him but I'm still torn up with guilt right now. Hopefully that guilt will subside soon.
Bear I love and miss you so much, I'm sorry if anything I did caused you extra suffering but my life will never be the same without you.