When it rains it pours. Our hearts have never been so broken for so long. Why does this keep happening to the ones that bring us so much joy. It’s barely been 4 weeks since Milo’s passing, and now this morning we had to put to asleep yet another one of out beloved cats. His name was Duke. We’re not sure exactly how old he was , but we had the pleasure of his company for a little more than 12 years. He just showed up at our door one day with a chain around his neck. On the chain there was a tag that said “Duke”, so that’s what we called him.
What made Duke special, was that he was extremely vocal and loving. If you called his name we would respond with a loud and enthusiastic meow. Not just once in a while, but every single time you called his name! He was also a relentless snuggle bug who would curl up with you for hours at a time. Duke was an outdoor cat, but almost every morning he would meow at the back door to get our attention, not for food, but to be picked up and held by my partner Douglas. I’d open the back door to let him in and he would immediately search every room of the house until he found Douglas, and then he would hop onto his lap or jump in bed with him to snuggle . And I don’t mean just run of the mill snuggles, we’re talking up close in your face jowl rubbing, head bumping kind of snuggles. Ive never seen anything quite like it. Even our indoor cats aren’t that affectionate. That cat had a special bond with Douglas that he had with no other human, including myself. Id always joke around with Doug saying how much I thought the Geico Gecko looked and acted like Duke, especially his eyes. Every time the commercial would come on, Id say…Hey look…”Dukes on TV again”
We knew that Duke was getting old and starting to look frail, but we had no idea that he was as sick as he was. Two weeks earlier we had brought him to the vet because we noticed that he was getting increasingly thin and was having a difficult time walking and bending down to drink water. As is usually the case in older cats, they detected was they believed to be a large abdominal tumor, probably a lymphoma. There was basically nothing they could do to make him better. Still grieving over the loss of Milo and not ready to euthanize another pet so quickly, we decided to take him home, put him on steroids, love him as much as we could and hope for a miracle. Sure enough the steroids perked him up little and he even got some of his appetite back. Not surprising though, the positive effects of the drugs gradually wore off and by the end of the 2nd week he was becoming extremely dehydrated and incapacitated could barely get around. It go to the point where we were hand feeding him. He looked like a skeleton. It was obvious that he was slowly withering away and we knew in our hearts that it was time to release him from his failing body. The hardest part for us is that we was so alert and was purring and meowing right up till the very last second.
Ok so Duke was just your average looking tiger-striped brown short haired backyard cat and probably not special to anyone other than the two us, the neighbors who used to feed him and possibly his feline buddies, but I want the world to know that he existed and had purpose and that his presence enriched our lives deeply. He was a wonderful loving little creature and we will never ever forget him or his spirit. I think more than anything I’m going to miss his chattering meows. Funny, as I’m writing this I could swear I heard him meow in the other room. My mind is playing tricks on me.
We will miss you so much. Thank you for sharing your life with us. We love you snuggle bug.
Addendum: The loss of a loved one, human or otherwise, is always painful, but what a lot of people might not realize is that when a person suffers from severe lung disease, grieving can be especially difficult. Overwhelming emotions of sadness and grief can be physically and mentally draining. We know that strong emotions such as stress and anxiety can trigger breathing difficulties in asthmatics, but physical stress can as well. When you’re very short of breath to begin with, something as natural as the act of crying can make your breathing 10 times worse and can even be dangerous. When I experience intense sadness as I have these past few months, I have to actually hold back a lot of my emotions because I simply dont have the breath to cry, which makes me even more frustrated. If I do cry it often throws me into full blown bronchospasm. Sometimes I feel like Im going to explode inside because I can’t release the pressure unless Im having a good breathing day. Just another example of how wonderful this disease is. Can’t even friggin cry when you’re hurting so terribly.