About 8 and a half years ago I went out shopping for work pants. In one shopping area I passed a PetSmart that was advertising Cat Adoptions that day. I had moved to MN only a few months prior, was still bummed that I had had to give up my dog who didn’t handle apartment life well, and was still really missing being around cats (I had grown up around cats and am definitely a cat person). I figured I’d wander in, get some kitty snuggles, and be on my way.
Only I ended up leaving with a cat.
He was so chill despite being in a strange place surrounded by strange people. The lady from the rescue group saw me petting him through the cage and told me to go ahead and open the door. As soon as I did, he stretched up and gave me a hug. I melted.
I brought him home and named him Spencer. He immediately waltzed out of his carrier and investigated the apartment then picked a chair and took a nap. He was friendly right off the bat but it wasn’t until a few weeks later that he started snuggling. One night I woke up to find that my arm was completely asleep–he was curled up next to me with his front paws wrapped around my arm and completely blissed out.
Spencer was the most mellow cat I’ve met. He liked strangers. He liked dogs. He did well with small children. He even tolerated the vacuum cleaner (he’d put his ears back because of noise, but rarely moved). Every night he’d cuddle up to me in bed to sleep. He loved bread and he loved curry (I once tried sprinkling cayenne pepper on my plants to stop him chewing on them…. he thought they were even tastier). He loved having his belly rubbed… and wouldn’t spontaneously change his mind in the middle.
About 5 years ago I met Matt, we started dating, and eventually moved in together. Matt already had a cat when we met and we had to blend households. Schmutz was super social with people, but Matt was told when he adopted her that she didn’t really like other cats. Spencer won her heart anyway. The two of them would snuggle and play together, and Schmutz would groom the heck out of Spencer whenever she had the chance (and put him in a headlock if he tried to move away). Anyone who’s had cats know that blending cat families is hard and pretty much a crap shoot. Most people hope for an ignore-and-tolerate situation, but these two were buddies.
Then a couple weeks before Christmas our super-sweet, snuggly, floofy boy-cat started just picking at his food. We brought him in to the vet, they ran some labs and started him on an anti-nausea medication because their best guess was Inflammatory Bowel. A few days of the meds didn’t change anything but the lab work didn’t show anything abnormal so they had us start him on Prednisolone. We were hoping to see an improvement before we left for Christmas to visit family, but nothing really changed. He’s a super difficult cat to pill so our cat-sitter couldn’t really continue his meds while we were gone but we made sure he would always have plenty of food available to him.
When we got back home he was super skinny and really wasn’t eating so we hauled him back to the vet. They gave him another shot of anti-nausea drugs and some IV fluids plus an appetite stimulant and he seemed to be doing a little better that day…but then immediately went back to not eating. We started syringe feeding him a prescription, high-calorie diet but still couldn’t get a lot into him.
We took him back to the vet Saturday since he still wasn’t showing improvement. They re-checked his red blood cell count and it had tanked, so he was clearly severely anemic, but the blood work didn’t show any clear causes of the anemia, which the vet thought meant there was a strong chance he had cancer which was attacking his bone marrow and bringing his RBC count down. We had the option to do more tests and a blood transfusion…but the likelihood that anything would change the outcome was very slim and we just didn’t want to put him through additional stress.
We brought him back home. Snuggled. Cried. Matt cooked him some super-buttery tialapia which he even picked at a little bit. We later made an appointment with MN Pets who will come to your home. We didn’t want to stress him out anymore by bringing him back to the clinic.
Dr Heather came out today and was very supportive and patient. We went over everything we had done so far and what his labs showed and she agreed that it also sounded like cancer, but even it wasn’t he was too severely anemic for there to be a good prognosis (especially since he was already on steroids and they weren’t helping). There’s no way to feel good about this decision, but I’m pretty confident it wasn’t a bad decision…. even if it was an incredibly painful one to make.
I got to hold in my arms in the end and I hope he was aware of how much he was loved. I already miss him like crazy but I couldn’t bear to drag this out and watch him get even weaker. He was one of the best companions anyone could have ever hoped for and it breaks my heart that I had to lose him so early. I feel so lucky that he was able to be a part of my life.