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Old Blue Eyes is gone

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on August 7, 2007

archie1-4.jpg
photo: © kay taneyhill

I had to put down Archy, my cat, yesterday. For the past two weeks I’ve been dealing with his steadily deteriorating health, all the while contemplating having to end his life. I’ve been extremely sad, and a little depressed, because of this. Needless to say, I haven’t been in the mood to blog.

I had Archy for thirteen years. He was a rescue cat, abandoned in a dumpster, probably because he wasn’t pure Siamese. As the above photo reveals, he had the bluest eyes, yet wasn’t deaf as are most blue-eyed cats. I named him after the cockroach archy in Don Marquis’s archy and mehitabel.

Archy was a grouchy cat to almost everyone except me. I knew him as affectionate, playful, and downright cuddly. He was a complete lap cat, though he didn’t like to have his belly touched. My wife got to know him over the past five years and was able to see his sweet side.

He was fascinated with my wife’s cat — now an eighteen-year-old female long-haired orange tabby named Daisy — when we moved in together. Archy was always trying to make friends and play with Daisy, but she would have none of it. No doubt, it was one his great disappointments in life.

Archy got to be over twenty pounds, and became diabetic about four years ago. The diabetes contributed to neuropathy in his hind legs, which only got worse over the years. In addition, he had a deteriorated disc in his spine that also made it difficult for him to walk. And, he had severe constipation. He was on a half dozen medications toward the end of his life, none of which seemed to do much to improve his condition. His diabetes, in particular, was never fully regulated. He had a couple of sugar crises as one type of insulin after another became ineffective in treating his diabetes.

About nine months ago, Archy found it harder and harder to have a bowel movement in the litter box. He just didn’t have the strength in his back legs to support himself, and so had to lie down on his side on the carpet to take a shit. I bought a large cage for him, outfitting it with a litter box, a place for food and water complete with carpet samples, and a bed on a perch. I put him in the cage at night, and when we were away and couldn’t watch him. For a while, the cage forced him to use the litter box, but only for a while. Soon, he was shitting on the rug samples. Then he started urinating more and more outside the litter box, finding it harder and harder to stand to take a pee. He used the bottom of his cage, and for the last two weeks the carpet samples, and often Archy himself, would be covered in excrement.

That cats are such incredibly fastidious animals only made it worse. His quality of life was approaching nil, so the decision to end his life, while difficult, was inevitable. I didn’t want him to kick it all terrified in a veterinary clinic, so I had the Vet on Wheels euthanize him at home. With my wife and I holding him. As I said, that was yesterday, and I dismantled his cage that evening.

I’m sad and grieving and a bit relieved at the same time. Unlike humans, animals are unconditional in their love for their people, yet care giving for a sick animal is very stressful. I will miss my little companion deeply. At the same time, Archy no longer has to suffer the pain and indignities of his various illnesses.

Goodbye, my sweet boy.

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6 Responses to “Old Blue Eyes is gone”

  1. bakinbit said

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Hopefully writing about is helping with your grief.

  2. mc said

    Wow, I’m so sad with you! I haven’t had to deal with the loss of a pet yet but I do have 3 cats. One of my cats we got 2 & 1/2 years ago from a friend who’s grandmother passed away. Her name is Sasha. She is 13 years old. In just the few years we’ve had her, we’ve noticed her deterioating bone health. She really is so loving and can’t imagine life without her. We do all we can to make her life easier at home (steps, laxatives,soft food,etc.etc.etc). Our 2 other cats are both 4 years old and we’ve had them since 6 weeks. They love Sasha too and I’m so afraid that we’re getting to the end with her. Our 2 other cats got in and out of the house (always in at night!!)but Sasha has to stay in because her previous owner declawed her. She can only got out if we are with her. So being in most of the time made her so attached to us as we are to her. I’m dreading the day that she is gone. I hope it helps you to know that you are helping me prepare for the inevitable. We don’t have children so our cats are “OUR CHILDREN”. Thanks again for sharing>

  3. Archy was a beautiful boy. I understand your pain. I had to put my 17 year old cat, Nomie to sleep less than 2 weeks ago. I still can’t sit in her favorite chair b/c that is where I sat with her in her final hours, and where we sat when the vet administered the shot that put an end to her pain. We too had a tough journey to the end, and there is a slight bit of relief that I don’t have to worry about her anymore. I hope you had a chance to have some sort of ritual or memorial for him. Some people thought I was nuts, but it was incredibly healing. I wish the best of luck on your journey of grief and healing.

  4. Anne said

    I am so sorry for your loss. Archy looked like a lovely cat that will be truly missed. Just reading it made me cry. My cat Max died 2 years ago this October. He was about 18 years old and was diabetic for 6 years.
    I just adopted a siamese named Brownie from the shelter (I was fostering cats because I was not ready to make another life long commitment after losing Max. I was not ready to adopt him or any cat for that matter, but they were going to put him to sleep because he has stomatitus (a treatable gum disease)so what could I do)
    Slowly Brownie is becoming more and more affectionate. I wait for the day that he becomes lovey like Archey was for you.

  5. Dennis said

    Hi. I read with great sadness of your cat’s passing, even though it was a few years ago. I stumbled across your blog quite by accident. I am going through the same thing now, with my cat, Radar, whom I’ve had for nearly 12 years. Radar was diagnosed with lymphoma last August, and has been steadily delining, slowly but surely. He used to weigh over 20 pounds, but has dwindled to a mere 13 pounds as of last week. Right now, he’s ok, and his spirits and appetite are pretty good. As long as I know he is not suffering, I will avoid having him put down. But I do know that day could come soon, and I am dreading it. Just thinking about it makes me sob. For now, I have the privilege of holding him, and spoiling him rotten. I know that time will heal your sorrow, and that you’ll never forget your beloved Archy. He was a handsome boy.

    Dennis Dahill
    Orlando, FL

  6. […] orange tabby named Daisy—while I had one cat—a part Siamese named Archy. I blogged about Archy‘s death many years ago. By then, Tofu had died of cancer. Daisy carried on, suffering from […]

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