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  • This story is meant to be a tribute. A tribute to my first cat, Kitty, who passed away recently. First of all let me start by saying that I'm an animal lover. I grew up with pets and I worked in an animal shelter for a time. My mom, however, is allergic to cats so I grew up with dogs, hamsters and fish... though I always wanted a cat. I had friends who had cats and I got along with them just fine, but never had a cat of my own. Although, for some reason I have a special connection with animals and I tend to make deep bonds with them. Sometimes I bond with other people's pets too... they don't necessarily have to belong to me in order for me to love them as they were my own. I guess that's how it all started with Kitty. She was my boyfriend's cat and when he decided to move in with me then she came along with him. She was already 10 years old, but I had heard of cats living to be into their 20's so I was assuming that I would have to learn how to live with Kitty for a while.

    Kitty was a shy cat and you had to work to earn her love. She was very timid and hid a lot during the first few weeks of living in my place. Slowly but surely she came out of her shell and I worked really hard to make her feel comfortable. I got her several different types of toys in order to figure out which she liked best. I gradually switched over her food to an organic brand that I knew to be good for her along with an all natural wet food which she loved! She would come running as soon as she heard me open the can. And when I noticed that she liked to jump up into the windows to look outside then I ran to Target to buy a window perch so that she could lay on the window sill to watch birds in the trees. I even bought her a really nice scratching post and a cat tree.

    She had always been bonded to my boyfriend and him alone. His mother once told me a story about how Kitty "went rogue" when he moved out into the garage space at their house. With him gone from the house she didn't bond with anyone in place of him, she just chose to be bonded to no one. That's why I felt really special when she bonded with me. We became the best of friends. She would lay in bed with me and curl up next to me for pets and purrs. I would wake up some mornings to her staring at me from my night table just waiting for me to get up and pet her. Sometimes she would wait until my boyfriend would get into the shower and then she would jump into his spot in bed and we would have our own girl time together. When I came home from work she would run to the door to greet me and when I said hello to her she always meowed back. Most of the time she would curl up in my lap as soon as I sat down somewhere... even with the laptop on my legs she would jockey for space.

    She was a tiny cat for her age. She only weighed in at a little over 6 lbs. She was all black with the most beautiful green eyes and she was so gentle and sweet. I never heard her hiss once. Although, she wasn't too fond of being picked up and sometimes would give me a "sassy meow" if she didn't like what I was doing, but I always respected her enough to put her down instead of force it. Eventually she became comfortable with me holding her, but still not for too long. I think that we bonded so well because we had similar personalities. She was sweet, but shy, timid, you had to work to earn her love and respect and get her out of her shell, but once you did she would love you forever.

    So three years go by of spending time with Kitty and I've begun to feel like she is my own cat. I was responsible for most of her care as well. Then one day I noticed a lump near one of her nipples. She had never been spayed and I figured that it might just be swollen from her going in and out of heat. I kept an eye on it and then it got bigger. I made an appointment with the vet to have it checked out. The vet took a sample of cells from the lump and told me that they would get back to me with the results. When the results came back it turned out that it was cancer. By the time we got the results back, other lumps in the same area were already appearing. The vet used the words "aggressive cancer." I didn't know what to do. I was so upset with myself. I felt like it was my fault because I was supposed to take care of her. How could this happen? How could she have cancer? I wasn't ready for her to go.

    The vet said that they could refer us to an animal hospital for a chest scan to see where the cancer was and that if it hadn't spread too much then surgery may be an option. We talked it over and agreed that we wanted to do a chest scan to see where the cancer was. Over the next few days we waited for the vet to call us back with the referral information so that we could make an appointment for the chest scan. As those days went by it was clear that Kitty's condition was getting worse. It seemed like the tumors grew every day and she started to have difficulty breathing. She wasn't interested in her dry food anymore so I had been feeding her wet food, because she never turned that down. But eventually she wouldn't even eat the wet food anymore. I was so scared that she was in her last days.

    Finally, her breathing was so bad that we had to take her to an emergency animal hospital (we had still been waiting for a call back from the vet for a referral). When we got there we explained the cancer, the problems breathing and that she hadn't eaten. They weighed her and she weighed in a 5.19lbs. She had been losing weight. Then they took a chest scan and the vet came back to tell us that the cancer had metastasized and spread to her lungs. She called it "end stage" cancer and said there was nothing that they could do for her. She recommended "humane euthanasia." Keep in mind that I had worked at an animal shelter and interacted with animals that, in some cases, had to be euthanized. This wasn't a new concept to me and I understood that sometimes it is better for the animals not to suffer. But Kitty had seemed fine until the last couple of days when she had trouble breathing and stopped eating. I had never had to make this decision regarding my own animal before. I was so conflicted.

    The vet said that we could take her home to spend more time with her, but it would just be more of her having difficulty breathing and not eating. I knew that it would be selfish of me to put her through that just to have more time. We talked it over and decided that we had to put her to sleep. The vet gave us some time alone in the room with her to say our good byes. I was in tears. I wasn't ready to do this today. I thought that the vet would tell us that there was some medication or something we could do to help her. I wasn't prepared for this. We spent some time with Kitty and she was purring as she laid in my boyfriend's lap. I kissed her head so many times and told her how much I loved her and that I was sorry that I couldn't do anything for her. My boyfriend said that her purrs were to tell us that we're doing the right thing and that she'll be okay.

    The vet came back in and asked if we were ready. I wasn't ready, but I would never be ready so I said yes. She gave the first shot and explained that it was a drug to make her unconscious. It seemed that almost immediately after the shot Kitty curled up in a ball on my boyfriend's lap and stopped moving. Then the vet gave the second shot which she said was basically an overdose of Propofol. She held a stethoscope to her chest and told us that her heart had stopped beating. I was heartbroken. My best friend was gone. I didn't think that it would happen so fast. I had never witnessed a euthanasia before. I didn't know what to expect, but I didn't think it would happen so fast. I was so upset.

    They made a clay imprint of her paws for us and we elected to keep her body so that we could give her a proper burial. They placed her body in a white cardboard box and we left. In the car I held the box and cried and said that I was sorry. When we got home I opened the box up and she was curled up inside. She looked like she was sleeping and I almost felt like if I touched her then her head would pop up and she would wake up like she did many times before when I interrupted her naps.

    I pet her and kissed her head again, but I knew that this was no longer Kitty... this was just an empty body and her soul had already moved on.

    Rest in peace my sweet pretty Kitty. You will always be in my heart.
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