for some reason, I believed I would be awakened by the six am breakfast dance well into my retirement years. I hadn’t really taken into account that Kestrel, along with being Houdini Kitty that could work himself out of any bandage system when I had accidentally degloved the tip of his tail, was also Mathuselah Kat. We aren’t certain how old he was, we aren’t careful with those kind of records, but in our archaeological methods we calculated him to be between seventeen and twenty years old.
The warning signs came when he took to his downstairs bed near his food and waited for me to come down to him last week. It was even more disconcerting when he put up no resistance in a car ride to the vet’s, something that had always brought out his inner Tasmanian Devil. We found that he had dropped from fourteen pounds to six-and-a-half and his kidneys were failing. We prepared a regimen of nightly subcutaneous injections of fluids to ease the strain on his kidneys. We all foresaw this going on for quite some time as he was a recalcitrant old beast that would not easily give up his position as assistant and supervisor over my writing and Kit’s sewing.
The crash came Sunday. He could barely make the two foot trek to his litter box, moved close by for his dignity. He drank some water, but completely gave up on food. We still held out hope that we could nurse him back to health. I stayed home Monday, already fighting off an allergy-induced asthma attack. Kestrel had collapsed to the point of no longer being able to walk. That is when he started to cry.
It was not a pained mewling, or any other sound I’d heard before. It was a single syllable conveying pleading confusion, a single utterance at the top of his voice like “Please” or “Help”. Since it came with the sudden betrayal by his own body, it sounded to me like “Why?” The sound pierced me right to my seemingly atrophied heart,
My wife and I took turns cuddling him on the couch. She stayed with him through the night when I went to bed in hopes of getting better myself. I heard him give out that cry several times through the night.
This morning we took him to the vet’s for one last time. He did not resist the medication and slipped into his final sleep without struggle.
I know losing a cat is nowhere near as wrenching as losing a child or a parent. Believe me, I have had the chance for comparison. Still, it is the first time I have wept in several years. It is more than enough travail to wrap up the year for the Matulich household.
Farewell, Black Prince, muse, assistant, living alarm clock, and unfamiliar. May you have many squirrels and birds to chase in feline Valhalla.