I have mentioned in previous columns my cat, Robert.
Robert has been with me a long time: 15 years, 2 months, my time; 77-80 years, his time. Although I knew the day was coming to say goodbye, it was something I never wanted to think about
He is named Robert because he was born without most of his tail. There has always been something so dignified in his bearing –– even as a kitten –– that “Bob” did not somehow seem appropriate.
. An inside cat throughout his life, about three weeks ago he slipped out of the house on a Sunday night and spent a night and half a day on the lam before showing up, dehydrated on my neighbors, Evelyn and Kenny Culberson’s front porch.
By the time Evelyn called me, I had distributed flyers throughout the neighborhood and said many prayers that Robert had not tangled with a stray dog or a coyote. I knew that when the time came, I wanted nothing more than a peaceful, humane end to his life.
Robert’s doctor, John Hammons, and I had the dreaded discussion Monday about some age-related problems Robert is having –– of course, not in front of him. One other time, the doctor and I discussed Robert’s weight issues while he was still in the examining room, and I swear that cat eyed me up and down, as if to say, “Look who’s talking, lady.”
This time Robert was diagnosed with acute renal failure.
While his kidneys are working at a level that sufficiently filters toxins from his bloodstream, he has suffered irreversible kidney damage due to age and an undiagnosed, untreated kidney infection.
Doc Hammons said although Robert’s condition is serious, with antibiotics and a special diet, he could possibly live another couple of years.
I then had to deal with quality of life issues of my dear friend. You see, I’ve never thought of Robert as a cat.
He’s never caught a mouse, killed a bird or fathered a litter. He has on occasion served as a hot water bottle, an alarm clock and a confidant.
I have tended to think of him as a short, hairy person. I even understand what he is saying by the inflections of his mewing. I understood his terror when he could see the bottom of his food dish and thought there was famine in the land.
If my friend were to be sick his remaining time on Earth then possibly it would be kinder to let him go to sleep. I began having visions of the scene from the movie “Marley” in which the young family anguishes as their golden Labrador is euthanized, and I knew I wasn’t ready to play that scene with Robert.
I needed to confer with someone, so I called my daughter, Amy. She reminded me that Robert is more than a cat and more than a hairy friend.
“He’s a member of the family, Mom. I don’t think we should start thinking about pulling the plug on him just yet.”
I opted for the antibiotics and the special diet. He had a better night Monday with no vomiting. I vowed to spend more quality time with Robert for however long we had.
Tuesday morning before work I gently summoned him to the La-Z-Boy chair. I could see the confusion in his eyes as he recalled being loudly and repeatedly reminded that, “Hey, dude, that’s my chair, not yours!”
I sought to break it gently to him about what was to come (making a will, counseling with a spiritual adviser, cornea donation, etc.) I began by saying, “Now that you’re getting older,” but I stopped short when Robert eyed me up and down, as if to say, “Look who’s talking, lady.”
News Courier reporter Karen Middleton can be reached at 232-232-2720, ext. 111. Robert’s number is unlisted.