Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Tribute to a Special Patient, "The Colonel"

The Colonel after his radioiodine treatment

The Colonel was one of our favorite hyperthyroid patients at the Animal Endocrine Clinic. We first met him over two years ago, when he was referred to us for severe and uncontrolled hyperthyroidism.
His thyroid tumor was huge and resistant to treatment, necessitating a large dose of radioiodine to cure him. 

The Colonel ended up staying with us for a long time after treatment since the owner has small children in the house, but none of us minded; we all loved having this wonderful cat at our practice! He had a super personality and enjoyed each day with a zest for life.  

He later when on to develop hypothyroidism, which we successfully managed with daily thyroid hormone replacement therapy. Unfortunately, he later went on to develop cancer of he urinary bladder, which lead to urinary obstruction and worsening of his kidney failure.

The Colonel's owner wrote this tribute in memory of him. This cat poem puts into words, so beautifully, what we all feel when we lose one of our best friends.  I wanted to share it with all of you so you can get a sense of how special this cat really was to all of us. 

However, I must warn you — you will likely cry as you read this touching epitaph, as we do everytime we reread it. 

We all loved this cat.  He truly will be missed.

Dr. Mark Peterson and Staff at the Animal Endocrine Clinic

Watching the gerbils during his long boarding period at the hospital

by Beverly Cole 

I don't have to close the bedroom doors, no longer worried your nails will wreak havoc on the rugs.

I am cleaning up the last kernel of your Lord forsaken litter, a battle that I waged for years, that I have finally won. A pyrrhic victory.

I am picking off fur from my sweater without my usual grumbling. The fur will appear less and less now, the couch clean, no tufts of orange and white randomly floating through the air.

There's no more food to order for you. No more subcutaneous fluids to stave off kidney failure. No more thyroid medication. No heartburn relief pills.

We fought for you as hard as you fought for yourself. No, you fought even harder. You loved your life with a passion experienced by few, as simple and serene as it was.

I am taking your fleece blanket out of the dryer. Your urine stains now replaced by my salty tears.

You were just a cat. A 4-year-old flunky mouser who wound up at a shelter. At your best—16 pounds of pomp and circumstance and brilliance and at your worst — a shrunken shell of what was, desperately clinging to life despite the pain.

I haven't told the kids yet, just saying you're at the doctor when they asked me where you are. The little one calls to you in her small voice, then says "maybe he's in his room and you forgot," she says. No, dearest, I haven't forgotten where he is. When I close my eyes, I see you on the cold steel table, now lifeless, yet still filled with your impenetrable dignity although your eyes are now sunken and still.

I am packing up your brush, the same brush we bought when we started together, 13 years ago. When I groomed you the first time, you meowed and yawned at the same time, rolling onto your back, bored and happy, then gently nipped my hand to remind me who was in charge, a devilish glint in your eyes. When I brushed you this last time, you barely moved your head, so I stopped, not wanting to cause you more pain.

Your fur wasn't always urine soaked. Your smell wasn't always unbearable. That was only recently, after the cancer in your bladder had obstructed your ability to urinate, after the kidney failure had taken over. Before that you were impeccable. Meticulously grooming until your fur shone.

I still hear your cry—strong and plaintive, demanding, not the crusty, faltering mew you have been able to muster recently.

It is hard to be in this house without you. My stomach feels void when I realize that the small crackle I hear is not your footsteps coming upstairs to say goodnight to the kids. I stop myself when I enter the house, almost hearing my voice greet you hello, as I have for the last 13 years. You're not here to answer or come over. You'll never be here again.

I see a ghost of you on the couch waiting for me to sit down at night. I am trying to decide what's more devastating—reliving your death every moment I re-realize you're not here, or knowing that I will get used to your absence.

You were just a cat. You were mine. And I miss you so. My dear, dear friend.

You were my best friend, many times my sole ally, and you trusted me with your life. I hope it was a good one.

The Colonel (1997-2013)


Tails from the Foster Kittens said...

Such a lovely tribute.. thank you so much for sharing it with us. As someone in rescue I need to be reminded regularly that there are people who who care that much..

Jodi McFayden said...

That was so moving and really reminded me of my experience with my cat Pixie, he had the same conditions, so sad x

Jodi McFayden said...

I feel so sad for you losing your boy, I related to your words so much, I lost my cat to kidney disease and hyperthyroidism, miss him so much x

Komal Sharma said...

This is a real tribute for pets. i also lost my lovely dog due to food poison. I miss him very much.

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