Our beloved Smudgie died on Tuesday, March 25th. I haven't really felt like blogging about his death before now. I'd still rather not think about it, but I also don't want to gloss over his death.
We euthenized Smudge. He'd been ill, first with a funky fungus in the sinus cavity behind his right eye. At the time, it was thought that whatever was the problem with his eye, it was cancerous. So we were quite pleased to learn, after the biopsy, that it wasn't cancer there, but an unlikely fungus. Now, this particular fungus was no party. It was serious and could be fatal, but Smudgie responded well to months of treatment and the fungus disappeared.
He should have begun regaining weight he lost due to the fungal infection. He didn't, so back to the specialist he went. This time it was cancer: low-grade lymphoma. How sad that he did so well wrt the fungus, only to then get cancer. It is possible that the cancer was there before the fungus. It's kinduva chicken and egg scenario. The cancer could have lowered his resistance to infections or the infection could have paved the way for the cancer. It's quite likely that Smudge has a genetic disposition to lymphoma, since his littermate, Archie, died of it high-grade lymphoma almost 4 years ago. Their littermate, Dolly, exhibits sign of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which is often a precursor to lymphoma. She's still with us.
We adopted Archie, Dolly and Smudgie in September, 1995, shortly after we bought our home and could finally have pets. We actually went to the shelter with the idea of adopting one cat. We decided on Dolly, a scaredy little grey tabby of a cat. She had been adopted and returned already. A family with young children adopted her, but it was all too much for Dolly. She got herself up into one of those ceilings with the squares that you can lift up. Then she went down the wall. The family had to open up the wall to get her out. When we heard that, we decided that we should adopt one of her littermates. Maybe that would make adoption easier on her. So we asked to adopt Archie. The shelter was in the process of moving at the time, having lost their lease. One of the volunteers planned to adopt Smudge if he wasn't adopted before the move. When we were home and thought about the three cats some more, we decided we didn't want to separate them, so we asked to adopt Smudgie, too. Here we all are, on the day we went to pick up the cats.
They were approximately 1.5 yo at the time. Their estimated DOB was March, 1994 so we assigned them a birthday of March 15th, the ides of March. Smudgie had just turned 14 yo when he died.
Smudgie dealt with his fungus treatments and cancer management fairly well. He took fluconazole, an antinfungal, for the fungus. That was just a pill and he was relatively easy to pill. He didn't like it, but once you got him, it was easy to pill him. There was no treatment for his cancer, i.e., there was no cure, but we tried to manage it to give him as long and as good a time as he could have. Again, pills and the occasional vitamin B injection, all done at home. The cancer and fungus both required weekly blood tests. Dr. Slade did those on her visits. Occasionally, he had to see the specialist. Smudgie was quite the homebody. I do think he would rather have skipped the road trips down to Red Bank, but he even handled those like a trooper.
He was quite the mushball and I think that that's what earned him some fans at the hospital. He did seem to prefer the ladies, so I wouldn't be surprised that he charmed the mostly female techs at the hospital. I think big noisy guys with deep voices unnerved him. Me, too!
He retained his lovey, mushball demeanor throughout his treatments. Even as he slowed down and continued to lose weight, he came around for love; held his tail up; came to see us when we came home; etc. He ate very well and was interested in food until almost the very end, which was a little surprising to me. Finally, it became clear that he was no longer enjoying life. He stayed on the couch, except to eat. He moved very slowly. His big beautiful black eyes - big, healthy, shiny eyes that were one of his most outstanding features and one of my very favorite things about him - became dull. He was tired.
We had an appointment for that Tuesday already: for Dr. Slade to check in on Nosey and Miles as well as Smudge. She hadn't seen Smudge in two weeks and she was surprised when I called her to tell her that I think Tuesday wouldn't be a checkup for Smudgie, but a euthenization. He was still enjoying things and being friendly with her when she last saw him. But that weekend was when he took a turn.
Clara had been Smudgie's bff since Archie died, leaving her friendless in the house. Just before the doctor arrived, Clara was giving Smudgie some loving and grooming. Here's a picture of Smudge and Clara from that morning.
He'd gotten so skinny.
A last portrait of our beloved Smudge.
I can barely stand to look at that picture, knowing that was his last day. Also, he's looking directly at the camera and when I look at it, I look in his eyes, hoping that we did right by him. I know we gave him a great home and we loved him to smithereens, but that was the easy part. I hope that our choices wrt his medical care and comfort were the right ones.
Dr. Slade saw to the other cats first, giving me some time alone with Smudge. She gave him a drug that would make him sleep (not 'put him to sleep'; I really don't like that phrase). He'd be asleep, but his eyes would be open. I sat on the couch with Smudge on my lap, stroking his fur over and over, crying my eyes out, wondering what life would be like without Smudge. Finally, we lay him on the couch. I stroked his head. She gave him the injection that would euthenize him. After another while alone with his body, she wrapped him in a towel, wrapped him so sweetly, like a baby laying asleep on his side, with just his pretty face showing. I held him like that for a while and I tell you I felt like I could have held him to me forever. I wanted to hold him forever. Finally, I gave him to Dr. Slade, who would arrange for Abbey Glen to pick him up.
We had his cremation service a couple of weeks later and brought his ashes home that same day. I know he died on March 25th, but it's nice to have his ashes back home with us. Now we need to come up with something to say on the urn's plaque. It's so hard to think of something that does justice to a love affair of 13 years, yet brief enough to fit in a small space.
I'll end here, with a few favorite pictures of our beautiful Smudgie.