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I was devastated when I found out the news. Cloud had a heart defect. He was in heart failure. He could die that night. The most I could hope for was 3 more months with him. Your boy is dying... I walked through the door with these statements flying through my mind. I set his carrier down on the floor, shaking, and picked my little baby up. He was exhausted from a long day of being poked and prodded and was happy to be home. We spent the rest of the night snuggling on the couch. He purred contently and I cried and tried to feel peace in what could be our last moment together. I couldn't bare to watch him breath. It wasn't normal and was a clear sign that something wasn't right. It was a slap of reality. "Just tonight," I thought, "Just make it through tonight."

He sleeps curled at my neck, as much on my face as possible. It isn't the most convenient for me, but it's Cloud's favorite and I was happy to oblige. Much to my delight his little purrs were there to greet me in the morning. He was such a weak kitten, so much smaller then all the others. Days passed, and every night I would go to bed thinking "Just tonight, just make it through tonight." 3 months passed and Cloud was growing. I convince myself that I am prepared for his death, that I will be able to handle it because I know it is coming. Then the morning came when I woke up to 3 happy faces curled up at my side, but no Cloud by my neck. I walk through the house calling his name. There was no sign of him. Assuming that he was hiding I decide to prepare breakfast, smiling as I remember how excited Cloud would get when he was a baby for his wet food. He would shake with anticipation and wouldn't wait for me bring it to him. Every morning I would catch him as he would lung his little 4 week old body into the air and land in his food bowl, happy as a clam. I set 4 little bowls down, beginning to feel concerned. Cloud never misses a breakfast. I wait and wait. He never shows. I am frantic now, running through the house calling after my baby. "This can't be happening, this can't be happening." was flying through my head.

I open the closet and that's when I see it. Behind the hot water heater I can see part of a head and a leg sitting very still. My heart feels frozen, thinking I am staring at what was left of my Cloud. Suddenly the head turns and is staring back at me. I couldn't believe it, he was alive! I run to the hot water heater. The space he fell behind was so small that he couldn't lay down, and too far down for me to reach him. I can see panic in his eyes and he tries desperately to jump up to me. Cloud just wasn't strong enough. I began to get flustered, not sure how to get him free. We shared a mutual look of fear and longing to just be done with the situation and to snuggle. I grab a towel and pull it tight. "Please," I think, "just climb to me Cloud." Almost as if he reads my thoughts he starts to scale the towel. I could tell he was tired and struggling to make it, so as soon as I could reach him I grabbed his scruff and pulled him to safety. We sat there cuddling as I broke apart. I realized that day that nothing will make me feel prepared for his passing, that he has a huge piece of my heart and will take it with him. Knowing when he is predicted to die doesn't change that.

I was determined after that day that even though Cloud's life would be shorter then most other cats it would be just as fulfilling. The doctors told me not to allow him to exercise too much. But life is too short, and Cloud loves to play. I refuse to deprive him of this. Exploring, stalking, wrestling, he loves it all and spends hours a day chasing the imaginary or jumping through boxes as he goes after his favorite toy. He loves his food, and because he burns more calories he gets a little more then everyone else. Or maybe it's because I know in the end he will have had less meals then everyone else so I want to give him more. He jumps on counters and I just have to smile. Every night he lays on my shoulder as I rock him back and forth to sleep thinking "Just tonight, just make it through tonight." And every morning I wake up to 3 little bodies curled next to mine, and one big, white fluff ball laying next to my neck and practically on my face.

Cloud has beaten the odds and is alive at 1 year and 5 months of age. We are on borrowed time now. Sometimes I feel selfish and wish he would pass when I am not there because of the pain I know that will come with it. But most of the time I hope that he will pass in my arms, suddenly and without pain allowing his last moments on earth to be doing his favorite thing in the world with his mommy. Many people thought I should put him to sleep when I found out, and many more scoff when they find out I am $3,000 in debt trying to care for him. But he is my baby, my Cloud.

And as I sit here typing this he has his legs curled around my arm and his head resting on my hand and I smile. The times I've had with my baby boy I wouldn't trade for $3,000. I don't wish that I could give him up and have a normal cat. I am the one blessed to have been given the opportunity to have such a precious soul be in my life, to be honored with the chance to have gotten to love him. If I have learned anything from Cloud it is that none of us, human or cat, know when death is coming. What we do know is that we have right now with each other, so take all the snuggles you can and catch every beam of sunlight possible. Never take each other or each moment for granted, and realize how lucky you are to have been given the privileged to have loved.
 

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Beautiful, and I can completely relate. Especially with the "life is too short to deny him anything" I feel the same and allow Ninja to play as much as he wants, despite the shortness of breath it causes and danger it poses. Give cloud an extra hug and an extra treat from me and Ninja.

I hope that both our boys defy the odds and give us many many more years of love.
 

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That was a lovely story, Nicole.

To both Nicole and Kobster: I hope Cloud and Ninja defy the odds and live to be wise old gentlemen with lots of gray hair!
 

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Thank you for your kind words :) I just love getting to share my kitties with everyone.

I have no doubt that special boys like Cloud and Ninja have many more years left in them to spoil us with.
 

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beautiful story nicole. quite a lot of it really hits home to me.

one of those things is when you talk about being prepared. my boy morriss is about 19 years old and has had many health issues over the years. while i keep trying to prepare myself i still frantically search for him every night if he isn't there waiting for me with a big meow.

the other thing is how other people respond to you spending money on cloud. people (ones that i don't hold in high regard) though i was crazy that i spent over $1500 on my little malcolm. "he's just a stray", " he isn't going to make it" they said. my response was that this little angel deserves every chance to live a long and healthy life. even when the vet told me that she was as certain as she could be that it was FIP i still wanted to be sure, to rule out any chance that it was something that could be cured. sadly it was FIP and i had to let my little baby go to the bridge but i would spend every penny again, he deserved more than he was dealt.
 

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Such a beautiful tribute to little Cloud. On the positive side, it is allowing you to appreciate each and every day with him. The fact is, we should treat all of our kitties that way, every day. While you have a diagnosis and reality on your mind, it's not like the rest of us should take it for granted that our guys will live for years and years. Look at the current post about a kitten that dashed out of the house and was struck by a car.

I am so glad that you are getting to enjoy him so, and he is living in such a loving household. No wonder he's so happy.
 

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That was a beautiful story, Nicole!:) I hope he can stay with you, and be with you for as long as he can! But I hope that will be a very, very long time:)
 
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