Friday, April 17, 2009

Goodbye Dear Friend

Wednesday was a very sad day. We had to say goodbye to Niles.

Niles died Wednesday afternoon. I noticed he wasn’t feeling well last week. He started sleeping in the closet which isn’t like him and he was eating less and less. That wasn’t terribly unusual for him. He has had some pretty monster sized hairballs that took a few days to come up. So I had passed it off as a big hairball and we watched and waited for it to pass. Thursday and Friday he didn’t eat or poop at all so I started worrying it might be an intestinal blockage. Saturday morning when he hadn’t changed, I called our vet who usually has Saturday hours. They were closed for Easter. We waited out the day, hoping he would throw up a hairball and feel better. But after the boys went to bed, James and I knew this was more serious. We decided to take him to an emergency vet to find out what we were dealing with.

I’ve always taken care of the cats and taken them to the vet. I felt lost staying home with Daphne and our sleeping boys as James took my sick buddy to the vet. I didn’t hear anything until about 1 am when James called to say Niles was in kidney failure. They didn’t know how bad it was and there was a chance he could come out of it with enough kidney function to have 10 more good years. But he would have to stay the night (which ended up being the weekend) with an IV. They took really good care of him but we had to take him to our vet on Monday morning because they are only open when normal vets are closed.

There are three numbers that show kidney function and his were very high, one of them even higher than the machines would read. We waited through Wednesday hoping the numbers would go down. Niles still would not eat. Wednesday around 1:15 I got the call that Niles was having trouble breathing and wouldn’t be able to make it much longer. I rushed to be with him and was so grateful to get to hold his head (they were giving him oxygen to keep him comfortable), pet and kiss him, scratch him and tell him how dearly I loved him. Our vet said Niles’s kidneys had stopped functioning - he knew this because that morning he had given Niles a shot that should have made him pee a lot and he had not peed at all. Soon after James arrived, we knew we should put Niles to sleep so he would not have to continue to struggle to breath or suffer. With the IV port in his arm, he didn’t have to get poked with any needles and he passed quietly and quickly.

I am sad, I miss my friend, and I was really caught off guard. I fully expected him to live 20+ years like the other cats I have had. In July Niles would have turned 10.

His sister Daphne is doing alright, but we will have to watch and wait. She meowed a lot the first few days Niles was at the vet. She still seems a bit lost and I think she might know he isn’t going to be around. Niles was such a good cat for Nathan and Evan - very tolerant and nice to them. We will miss that. I’m not sure yet if we will try to find another cat that would be good with the boys and Daphne. Or if we will just wait a while to see if Daphne mellows out. I just doubt she will ever let the boys come near her.

We will never know what happened to cause Niles to die so soon. Our vet said it could have been genetic, something he ate or some toxin that damaged his kidneys recently or years ago. So, who knows if it will happen to Daphne too. He said it was just like people who have heart attacks and die at 30. It shouldn’t happen and doesn’t make sense, but maybe that’s just all the time he had here. A hard reminder to love well and generously in the moment you are with your friends and loved ones because you never know if you will have that chance tomorrow.

So, we are left with a void in our home. We got Niles and Daphne about 6 months after they were born, from a PetSmart adoption day in 1999, a little over two years after we were married. They have been such a part of our lives it seems strange to not have him around.

Niles was a crazy, high maintenance cat who could be annoying and sweet. He did stupid things like pulling a string from a throw blanket and swollowing it, only to have to go to the vet when he couldn’t pass the string! A long haired cat who hated to be combed, he would shed puffs of hair that he often ate! He was so fat. With all that hair, he looked huge and had so much beautiful puffy hair. He would scarf down his food and chase Daphne from her bowl so he could eat her’s too. Then when she meowed and cried because she was hungry, he was always near by to eat up any food I would put down for Daphne. One year we bought feeders that would rotate and open with a timer when we were going on vacation - Niles figured out how to pry the lid off and eat all the food!

He would often leave the room we were in or go downstairs if we were watching a movie upstairs and meow his loud and moanful meow until one of us would come find him. Then he would either sit there and stare at you or run to the perch and lay down. He kept my feet warm at night and weighed down the covers. His purr could shake the walls and he would headbutt me in the back when I cleaned the pan. When he was younger he could jump as high as my head! He loved catnip and treats. He loved lunch meat even more and would be meowing at my feet if I just thought of making a turkey sandwich. He didn’t have to hear the package to know there was meat around. He would run in front of my feet and almost trip me when I was going to feed him.

He would sleep on his back with his legs all to the side, like a person, big belly up and begging to be rubbed! He looked so funny, like a big slipper. Head upside down he would turn to look at you with this expression that just said “WHAT?!?” He was funny!

James did something hilarious with him called the Niles Gun. He would hold Niles like a rifle but down at his side - Niles paws draping down, bored look on his face. Then with sound effects, James would “cock” Niles and pretend to shoot him, little paws dangling, eyes rolling in annoyance. We would laugh and laugh.

But Niles could stink up a litter pan and he would come out howling at us about it too. He would scratch the wall or door frame when he was bored or mad at us. He got hairballs often and his hair matted up so I would have to cut off clumps of it.

He could drive you crazy meowing at you and Nathan came up with a game called Meowin’ Fight. If Niles kept meowing, Nathan would run after him yelling “meowin’ fight” until Niles jumped on a chair or the perch. Then Nathan would go back to his playing, satisfied that Niles would be quiet for a while. Nathan also loved to pile every cat toy we had on Niles’s back and head while Niles laid still and let him - annoyed look on his face.

We love you buddy and will always miss you. I wish we had be given more time to love on you. But I am so glad you were ours!


IteachK said...

I'm sure he was greeted by Tasha, Joe, Ginger, Smokey and Calico and they are having a grand time chasing birds and eating catnip in "kitty heaven" said...
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Calvary Chapel Tyler said...

I'm so sorry about Niles. We lost Dimitri a month or so ago, too. Niles was a good cat & a good friend to you guys.

We miss you guys - hope things (outside of Niles) are well.


Anonymous said...

Praying for Daphne (and for you all) as you get used to life without Niles.

We love you!