Cat in laundry basket

You think I take too many pictures of my pets, but you don’t realize all the hundreds of pictures that I take and forget about, and they never even make it to Flickr or here.

Like these…from October 23, 2010. Your typical cat-in-laundry-basket pics.

Aremid 2010.10.23

Aremid 2010.10.23Aremid 2010.10.23
Aremid 2010.10.23

Bonus pics of that other cat with the name that starts with Z:
Zellouisa 2010.10.23

Zellouisa 2010.10.23

Aremid as Wilford Brimley

(Repost from April 15, 2010)

Aremid as Wilford Brimley

I got a cat

My very first picture of Aremid
(May 1996)

No, no, I didn’t get a new cat. I’m referring to this photo from 16 years ago. And it was news at the time that I had gotten a cat, because I had never had a pet (the goldfish and rabbit from childhood don’t count.) And I had never had any interest in having a cat.

I know I took more photos of him back in 1996, but this is the only one that seems to have survived. (He would be an indoor/outdoor cat for the first 5 years or so.)

Without getting into the story of how I came to have Aremid in my life, I will say that another cat had come up to me first, but it had gotten bored and moved on. Aremid lingered, so I decided I’d bring him home.

Oh, and he was called “Patches”. No offensive to all the lovely cats named Patches or their people, but I thought Patches was..I’ll just say, I was not going to name my cat Patches.

I am not going to post pictures of Aremid ad nauseum. Most of them are on Flickr, and I’ve posted a lot of them on this blog over the past 5 years.

On second though, I probably will post pictures ad nauseum.

Notes from the final hours

aremid.2012.05.23I’ve been completely drained over the past few weeks. The worst part was Aremid’s final week. And since he died ten days, I’ve been drained by other things not worth going into now. You might think I’ve been in mourning, but I have barely begun to mourn. I haven’t even uttered those blunt words “he died” until now. I, like many dealing with a loved one’s death, use the common euphemisms like “passed away” and “put to sleep” (generally reserved for pets.) Aremid died. Unless I’m using dark humor, I’m not going to say “my cat died”. That makes his existence and his role in my life seem so banal. I know very well that many people can’t relate to someone taking the death of a pet so seriously. That’s ok. I understand.

There’s so, so much about me that I don’t expect people to be able to relate to. I had this cat for 16 years and very often felt like he was the only thing I had going for me. Yes, justifiably or not, I very often felt like Aremid was the only thing I had going for me. And he’s gone.

IMAG0784
(2012.05.23)

But I didn’t intend this post to be a reflection on what Aremid meant to me. That’s supposed to be for another time. This post was already written prior to tonight. I just happen to be posting it now.

Me and Aremid 2012.05.26 (2)
(2012.05.26)


6/3/2012 11:00 PM
I wrote during Aremid’s final hours, but I did not want to live-blog his death, so I’m waiting until now to post these thoughts. I’ll try to fill in what happened during the final minutes. I should do that now, before the memory of those last moments starts to fade.

IMAG08055/28/2012 2:16 AM
Over the course of the last few hours, I have meant to chronicle these finals hours with Aremid, my faithful companion of the last 16 years. Subtract days I’ve spent away from home, and it’s still been over 5000 days that we’ve spent together. How many places have we lived? I won’t count them up now. It’s at least ten.

Midway through Saturday, I truly thought Aremid was doing better enough so that I would be able to put off the inevitable by a week or so. He was eating better. He didn’t seem as frail. He didn’t seem as distant.

But by Saturday evening, he was back to being more listless. And then he seemed a bit better again. Sunday, I didn’t foresee needing to call my vet and ask for availability on Monday. Aremid wasn’t suffering…as much as he had been at his worst. But by 6PM, as I prepared to head out for a few hours, I realized that he was suffering, again, or still. I had seen this pattern over the course of the past couple of weeks, and the pattern wasn’t changing for the better. Just about everything that everyone who knows anything about the end of life of a pet had said was applying to Aremid. The notion that he’d “let me know” or that I would know when the right time was, finally, it did not just seem like a wishful sentiment.

I called my vet, and she told me she would be free to come by around 2PM Monday. When I returned home around 9PM, I found him in an aloof, seemingly uncomfortable state. It was as if he were telling me, “I know you’ve set it up for tomorrow, and I really am ready to go now, and you should be ready for me to go now.” I’m not one to ascribe such strictly human thoughts to cats. Cats are, according to anyone who studies cat behavior for a living, unable to comprehend the concept of their own deaths. In Aremid’s case, he has never seen another cat die, so he should have no concept of death. Yet, I have convinced myself that he does know. At a time of desperation, I find that I am able to cling to an article of faith, and that, yes, it is comforting.

I have had heard plenty of Aremid’s meows over the past week or two, both his usual greeting and complaining meows, as well as the meek, sad meows that have accompanied his decline. Tonight, I have not heard any meows, as if he would prefer to limit his communication to his mere presence beside me. For this, I am relieved, because his meows will pain me at this point. After embracing our verbal chats for 16 years, I do not yearn for anymore. I will grieve their absence after he is gone. I am grateful for their absence right now.

I have wondered what Zellouisa makes of all this. Aremid and she have never gotten along in nearly 15 years of cohabiting. I suspect she will celebrate Aremid’s passing, and I resent her for this. But I really have no idea. Aremid was actually a very different cat during the first year I had him, pre-Zellouisa. He was still sweet and loving. But he also never whined or complained at all. He was forever changed after Zellouisa’s arrival, remaining disappointed that he has ever had to share the spotlight, even if I always let him have most of it. So I wonder how Aremid’s absence may change her behavior. A little bit. I’ll wonder more about it later.

2:41AM Should I move from the couch to the bedroom with Aremid? Should I try to get some sleep? I should. Nine more waking hours with Aremid are going to be painful hours. If I can slip away for a few hours, it will help me better deal with the final hours tomorrow. Aremid is helping me, in an odd way, begin to disconnect from him. It is not going to matter to him if I am not awake for the next nine hours. I may very well be anyway.

12:24PM Dr. S is going to be here in about a half-hour, an hour earlier than we had first discussed. I’m grateful that he’s letting me have this time next to him on the couch. He is clearly exhausted, but I take comfort that he is leaning on me in his final moments.

Saying goodbye

I didn’t get to sleep until sometime between 4 and 5. Between the time I stopped writing earlier and the time I fell asleep, Aremid had lain himself over my right arm, curling up in a few different configurations. This was comforting. Then, after awhile, he got up and hopped off the bed. This, too, was comforting, because I knew I might, then, be able to fall asleep. Whether he wanted to go and hide or go and take care of some business, I was content with the time we had spent together.

When I awoke at 9, he was right there back beside me. This was comforting. I called Dr. S. to confirm the plans, and it was then she asked if she could come at 1. I said that would be fine, though I initially mourned the loss of an hour. I quickly realized that, in the grand scheme of things, the extra hour was not necessary. In fact, I spent most of the morning going out for some chores and errands. I got myself some lunch. I dropped off Herman at M & E’s. Aremid was in his perch, and I didn’t want to disturb him from his routine. I figured that 45 minutes was about enough time to spend some last quality time with him.

12:33PM I will put down the laptop now and simply be with Aremid now. I’m not able to grieve just yet. I’ll just be the best person I can be for him in the short time we have left.

[written June 3]

Goodbye my sweet boyFor the next 10-12 minutes, Aremid was semi-curled up, leaning against me as I remained seated on the couch. I just showed him a lot of love, gentling stroking him on his head and on his back and in his ears. He wasn’t up for his typical stretches or extra-effort nuzzles. He just seemed so exhausted.

I recollected how Aremid had so many times over the years sat across my stomach and chest facing me. I don’t think it had been all that comfortable for him in recent years, but I gave it a try. I pick him up on placing him atop me. He settled in as if perfectly content with the position. I would remain in that position for the next 15 minutes until Dr. S arrived. But then she called me. It would be another 15 minutes. I was relieved.

I had about half an hour reclined on the couch with Aremid a top me. His eyes were squinting and full of weariness, but he was looking faintly into my eyes. We had experienced these deep connections hundreds, if not thousands, of times before. Again, as an article of faith, I feel as if Aremid knew this was the final time we would commune. I was at peace. He was at peace.

Dr. S. knocked on the door at 1:15, and, without moving, I told her to come on in. As soon as she entered, I began to sob, the reality of what was about to happen slapping me upside the head. We briefly discussed what was about to happen and what I wanted done with the remains. I attempted to justify why I was so distraught. I certainly didn’t need to do that. I could not ask for a more empathetic doctor than Dr. S.

She said she could proceed without either me or Aremid moving. She inserted the IV into his leg. Then, a few minutes later, she asked me if Aremid’s head was starting to feel heavy in my hand. Maybe–had she started the solution to put him into a deep sleep? Yes, she had, in conjunction with the IV. Oh, I wasn’t paying attention. I was still waiting for the 2nd of what I counted as three injections. Nope, Aremid was headed toward a deep, irreversible sleep. I had just been stroking the top of his head, so I had no idea if his eyes were open or closed. After a couple of more minutes, Dr. S. told me that he was in deep sleep and no longer had any perception of his surroundings.

I had held him while he was put to sleep. That was enough for me. As I had discussed with Dr. S. moments before, I wanted her to take him from me to administer the last injection. This, she did. I did not look at Aremid one last time and she picked him up. I had no need to. I had looked into his eyes reflecting back at me perhaps ten minutes before, and that’s the last memory I needed. Within a minute, she had told me that Aremid was gone.

I didn’t mean to glance, but I did see a small, soft white blanket draped over his body. Dr. S. cradled him and brought him to her car, and then she came back to check up on me and say goodbye. In the meantime, I had let Zellouisa out of the bedroom so Dr. S. could see what Z is like when she’s not at the vet, and so that I would try to focus on my one remaining cat.

I was at peace. I finally felt like I was doing…had done…the right thing. I felt no need to linger on Aremid’s death at that particular moment in time. I would soon enough.

Aremid’s last 12 hours went about as well as I could’ve hoped. He was alert enough to interact with me. He was hungry enough to eat a few bits of food. He stayed with me for that last hour, and he very much seemed as if that’s what he wanted to be doing.

Aremid's last day with me

Aremid Outakes: Aremid Meets Bichon

I do have a million thoughts about Aremid, but I’m not up for any heavy posts right now. I do need to work a few days this week. I will take Friday off to give myself a break. It could be months before I give Aremid a proper eulogy. In the meantime, I don’t want to stop posting just because I don’t have a proper post ready. I’ll use this WordPress theme’s handy Breaking News feature to keep Aremid front-and-center on this blog for the foreseeable future.

I just thought of a series of pictures that would amuse H & C. Aremid had no problems with D. No problem. No eye contact. No interest, whatsoever. (I was watching D. for the weekend. This is back in 2004).

DSC00008

DSC00010

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I am reminded of how big Aremid’s behind used to be.

Feline video remembrances

I probably will, at some point, go through my hundreds of Aremid photos and post a whole bunch of remembrances. Not right now. And, even if he goes, perhaps not for awhile. However, I did find this from four years ago. I had been messing around with Animoto. It clocks in at just 27 seconds. The pictures are all from a long, long time ago, 1996-1998.

Feline health update

I didn’t like the title of my last post. I shall return to my default subject for cat medical updates.

I have engaged in a lot of cat-gallows-humor that past few days, but I’ll keep that to myself, including calling this a “dying cat blog”.

As we move closer to the inevitable, Aremid did greet me from his perch when I got home last night. And I wrote in a draft post, “rather than take these as positive signs of any recovery, I’ll just take them as positive moments as we reach the end of the journey. Aremid will be around at least through the regular part of the weekend. My vet is going to be out of town. But Monday could be the day.”

Well, we added Cerenia to his medication cocktail last night. This is to suppliment Zafran to help with nausea.

And, for the past twelve hours, Aremid has been showing flashes of his former self, if I consider his former self to be how he was getting about a few weeks ago. A few weeks ago, I was not considering putting him down.

He has not been having trouble eating anything I’ve put in front of him. More importantly, I haven’t had to put food in front of him; he’s sought out food on his own. His meek meows have generally been subjugated by his classic loudy whiny meows that have irritated me for 16 years. He hasn’t hidden in his dark places at all.

So I think I’m pushing back the Doomsday Clock for at least a day, but likely longer, since the first day of work-week is, selfishly, a very bad day to do this.

Dying Cat Blog Day 2

I’ve begun to write a bunch of different blog posts in the last 20 minutes or so. Five stages of grief. How I’m trying to feed him baby food. How my vet is humoring me by me I can come in to pick up another medication that might curb Aremid’s nausea since the Zafran doesn’t seem to be doing it. How I see all the signs now.

I don’t know how to deal with this.

I finally get it that he’s miserable. I didn’t get that being old and decrepit and only half-lucid much of the time did not make for that bad a quality of life when you still had your person loving on you. I still don’t know if I get that. But if I imagine being nauseous all the time, and there’s no relief, I begin to realize that, at this point, each new day is not really a gift.

We’ll see. If I were completely in acceptance mode, I would be planning the end. I’ve heard people say that they spent one last night with their pet, that they had planned it like that. I don’t want to plan that. I would rather that my vet pick a random time to knock on the door and say, “Ok, I’m here to do it right now.”

Ok, enough morbid thoughts for now.

Ninth life (cont’d)

aremid.2012.05.23This morning’s post was supposed to be accompanied by this photo. While Aremid seems upset here, and he was, because he was at the vet, at least he was up and about and observing. Right now, he is in a pathetic curl-up up against me on the couch. He’s in more of a jagged oval than a circle. And he’s listless. I can see his side filling with air and then releasing it. Is this labored breathing or how it has always looked? I should know from watching him for 16 years. But I don’t. Or, more likely, I just don’t want to know.

I have been in denial. I think my vet was trying to gently let me know this morning that I should be planning to put Aremid down soon. The ultrasound was inconclusive, just like it was last year. Last year, Aremid rebounded a bit, particularly after he started prednisalone. But that weapon has already been used. Now, we’ve just added anti-nausea and appetite-stimulant meds. I don’t think they’ve made much difference over the past 10 hours. When I put Aremid in front of food, he seems to be devouring it. But he doesn’t stay on top of the food long enough to devour very much, and I don’t seem him returning on his own.

The signs are there if I want to see them. He is doing “lipsmacks” which is when he seems to be licking the top and bottom of his mouth, particularly after just having eaten. This means he is feeling nauseated. His eyes often seem like they’re focused on absolutely nothing. He hasn’t been hiding out-of-sight all that much, but typically when he’s next to me, he still has that aloof hiding vibe about him.

Just last week, he seemed to be ok, but that’s how these final days and weeks and months and years go. Every glimpse of his old behavior gives the false hope that he is rebounding. Today is the first day that I truly beginning to get it, that Aremid probably isn’t going to be rebounding.