Jim Dabrowski

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We Killed Our Cat Yesterday

We killed our cat yesterday. Well, more accurately, we had him killed yesterday. Such a blunt way of putting it, yet it’s accurate. In polite society we say we “had him put down” which sounds so much nicer yet amounts to the same thing. His name was Scaliwag (and it bugs me that all my spell-checkers insist his name should be spelled ‘Scalawag’ instead) and he’d been a part of our family for about 15 years.

We got him when he was somewhere around two or three. Dena had a patient who had been a cat breeder and was getting out of the business. We agreed to adopt Scaliwag into a family that already had 2 other cats: Broccoli and Cauliflower (kinda messed up that vegetable-naming thing we had going on). He fit in OK for the most part. Broccoli was an adult boy black-and-white while Cauliflower was a young tortoise-shell girl. Scaliwag was a young, lean, active and somewhat skittish Siamese with beautiful, sleek tan fur fading to black at the paws and face with strikingly blue eyes. A really beautiful cat.

Scaliwag was never much on friendship. While the other cats would come and play with us, walk on us and otherwise demand our attention, Scaliwag never cared much for that. He was, however, a lap cat. If we ever sat down on the couch with our feet up, he was there ready to hop on our laps and make himself comfortable. He was a good cat.

He outlasted Broccoli and Cauliflower. He died from kidney disease and she a year later from breast cancer. Losing him hit our family the hardest. The kids were still little and it was their first experience with death. He was also the first pet Dena and I had gotten together and was always my buddy. They were eventually replaced by Lion, another young, rambunctious, boy cat, this time dressed in orange tabby. Scaliwag took it all in stride, adopting to the changing family while continuing to sit on our laps and otherwise ignore us.

Something changed recently and he stopped being himself. Feeding him became more difficult and he started to lose weight. He developed congestion that would make it difficult for him to breathe. Lion became more aggressive to him and he began to hide more and stay away from us more. He just wasn’t himself, though he would still sometimes come and sit on our laps. We weren’t very good parents at this point. We let this go on too long. At first, too much denial, telling ourselves it would just get better. Later, too much guilt for not having taken him to be seen earlier and still hoping it would get better all while he got worse and worse.

Eventually we got the courage to have him seen and did what we could. Got some medications, tried some new special food but none of it really helped. We thought he was getting better, but he wasn’t. For his last several weeks he lived in the back of Dena’s closet and almost never came out. We would take food to him and find him laying on a towel soaked in urine. He would no longer even use the litter box sitting right beside him. We eventually realized it was time.

We took him to the vet yesterday. They were very kind and understanding. It kind of surprised us that we were both in tears over this cat who never really fit in to our family and kept himself aloof from us all those years. The vet administered a sedative and I took Scaliwag and sat down with him on my lap. I petted and cried and told him it was OK. He kindly accepted my words, my petting and my lap and quickly and quietly went to sleep.

Goodbye Scaliwag, we’ll miss you.

Scaliwag: born 1998?, died August 14, 2015