Sunday, March 25, 2007

Tribute to a lost friend

About 10 years ago, just after buying his first house, my brother Peter had our mom visit, and she took him out to get a pet. He adopted a pair of cats, brothers from different litters, named Bagheera and Baloo, from characters in The Jungle Book. Peter tried renaming them, Random and Pixel (he's a computer guy) but he eventually gave up. When Peter moved in with us last year he brought the boys with him and there was a bit of tension as our cats Samson and Delilah had some issues with these bigger, clawed cats living in THEIR home. They adjusted eventually and the only issue became Peter's cats using the doggie door to come and go as they pleased, which upset Lucy (our Basset Hound) that cats were crossing through her kitchen and escaping over the baby gates that keep her downstairs.

For about three weeks now, Baloo has not been well. He had lost a great deal of weight and pretty much laid around all day. We encouraged Peter to take him to the vet, but his time and desire were lacking. We watched as the poor guy got thinner and weaker, though he was eating and drinking. Today it got to the point where I picked him up off the floor in the hallway to take him to Peter's bed and he didn't have the strength to stand up. I told Peter I didn't think he had more than a day and a half left. Around 9pm I went to check on him and he was lying on the bed again with no strength to stand. At 11pm I was about to go to bed and I looked in to find he was not on the bed. I found him on the floor next to the bed where he had died.

I struggled with how to handle this. Peter was out for the night, and I pondered wether to leave him for Peter or to tend to him, and then what to do with the body if I did do anything. I opted to get dressed and find a place to bury him as I thought it cruel and insensitive to place him in the trash to be tossed in a truck and carted to a landfill, so at 11:15 at night I went to a spot near some trees on our property and took care of things.

I came back inside and sent Peter a text message with the news. About 5 minutes later Peter arrived home. He told me he expected he would have to take care of things when he got home tonight. He did not thank me, and he did not express any feelings. My emotions got the best of me (as they often can) such that I called Amy to tell her and after stating the basic news I could not speak any more. I worked to compose myself and called her back, afterwards I went and spoke to Peter again. He did wipe his eyes briefly but only said he had been expecting this when I asked him if he was okay.

It leaves me to wonder why we have to endure emotional distress over animals. Granted they are like family, but I certainly wish sometimes I could control my emotions, as now over an hour later, tears roll down my face as I type this. It's been a rough few months as in late December we lost Jasmine, and in January we lost Rascal. Jasmine and Rascal were a pair of cats I adopted while in college and that I left with my mother when I moved out since they were as much hers as mine. I talked to her today and she had received a call from her brother Ray today too. He had called her in tears because his cat had died in the past couple of days as well. Below is a pic of Jasmine (the calico) and Rascal I found among my photos.


annb said...

It is hard to lose a pet and I'm sorry you've had such a rough few months! It sounds like Baloo had reached a point where it was probably better for him to go, especially since he had not been feeling well for a while! It's never easy, but sometimes we know it's better! You did a good thing by not leaving Baloo for Peter to tend after he returned home. Sometimes, I think, the hardest part about losing someone is when other people don't show the reaction that we would expect.

debi said...

Just wanted to say how very sorry I am!

Shelly Kneupper Tucker said...

Some people aren't capable of expressing their emotions openly, but it doesn't mean they don't feel. And, the animals DO become a part of our family, so grieving about them is not unusual at all. As I write this, I'm choking up about a cat a lost a couple of years ago. Sometimes I wake at night thinking I heard his purring.
I'm so sorry for your loss. Go ahead and grieve. Later, you'll be able to think about your cat and smile through the tears.
Best Wishes

TeaMouse said...

Pets quickly become part of the family and earn a special place in our hearts. It is definitely ok to be upset over it. People deal differently with their emotions, some can express them with tears and others bottle them up and keep them to themselves.
Whatever the case may be I am sorry for your loss - I would be devasted to lose either my cat 'Ginger' or my dog 'Oliver'.
I've had cats die on me as a child and it's very sad.
My sister had a cat that had kidney failure and wasn't going to make it, thankfully although she couldn't take her to the vet for the euthanization, she asked me to. Now I never did like that cat - she was always a vicious one and would just as soon claw you as anything else. But when I held her on that vet table and watched her life essence fade away - it was more than I could take and I've never forgotten that experience. I never expected to be upset by her death. As I too am a softy at heart it affected me more than I realized.
Thankfully you had the place of mind to give Baloo a respectful burial.

Stacy at Exceedingly Mundane said...

What a sweet post, and what a beautiful cat he was. Baloo was lucky to have such an extended family to include you and Amy. How wonderful of you to give Baloo the loving and respectful burial that you did. Maybe Peter just doesn't know how to grieve for him.

We lost our dog over 3 years ago (before finally getting a new boy late last year) and I grieved for her for months on end. Pets, to me, become members of the family and intersect every part of my daily life. It's inconceivable to me to not grieve for them. But then again, they're my babies and I treat them as such.

Cyndi said...

pets are kids with fur. I am a animal lover and it's hard to lose one of your famly members.My cat Lily died about 2 years ago its hard to lose your fur babies.

this is a cool link and it helped when Lily died

ChupieandJ'smama said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. It is so hard to lose a pet.

Anonymous said...

I just lost a much loved cat named "Roger" - he loved everyone and everything - even dogs. In fact, he gave baths to our dogs. It was hard because he wasn't very old - something wrong with his liver. It is so hard to lose your pets. They truly have a special place in our hearts.
Randalia, Iowa

Amy said...

I am so sorry Michael. That was a sweet tribute to a beautiful kitty. It's hard to watch our pets suffer.

I have a kitty that looks just like Jasmine. I call her Shelby.

Again, I am sorry.

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Mike Thomas said...

I feel for you man. They are under our domain as people, and God gave us a love for...some of them ;)
Animals can take such a chunk of your heart, and I am so sorry that you lost a 'friend'.

Marcia said...

Animals are part of our families. I'm sorry, it is a lot to deal with emotionally.