Remembering Fluffy

This post is hard to write. It's also one of the bigger reasons I didn't write in December.

Catford Manor is minus one member of our FurFamily.

Our beloved ten-year-old Fluffy fell ill and succumbed to old age on December 19th. For two weeks prior, we nursed her, took her to the Vet, pushed medications into her, and loved her more than I even thought possible.

In retrospect, the signs were there for months. A subtle change in her behavior and affections, we at first thought were the result of loneliness due to Dot's intense schedule away from home. College, a new job, and a new boyfriend all took her attentions.

Fluffy began leaving large tufts of fur in her wake. She no longer slept on the soft furniture but rather opted to stretch atop the flat, cold surfaces of our bookcase. When the height became too much for her to conquer, she learned to hide in the lower kitchen cabinets.

Realizing more than loneliness was affecting her, we took her to the Vet who, after many tests, could diagnose her with nothing more than anemia. At Dr. Laura's office, Fluffy was nearly her old self: inquisitive, loving, explorative. She even caused the staff to laugh as she walked out of her carrier and climbed over their countertops looking for mischief.

Short of an MRI that we couldn't afford, at the time we had no way of knowing Fluffy had most likely developed a feline aneurism or metastasis that was subtly growing and causing complications. After her passing, Dr. Laura explained to me the last three days were very symptomatic, and there would have been nothing we could do even if we had known.

But we didn't know. We thought it was anemia.

So it was a great surprise to us when the medications didn't help. When, for several days, she pulled away from us to go rather into the dark corners of the house.

Fluffy's Final Photo. Although she's a bit worn out, she was very loving and purring with the attention and trying to play with her toy.
[Fluffy's Final Photo. Although she's a bit worn out, she was very loving and purring with the attention and trying to play with her toy.]

Her final night she began to wobble. She was losing motor control and her meows were a bit weak. I opened the cabinet before bedtime and caught her in an odd noisy combination that was more than a meow and not quite a hiss. She allowed me to pick her up and carry her to my bed. She could no longer walk away, although she tried to pull herself across the soft covers.

I woke Dot up and had her come into the room. "Sleep in here with us," I suggested. "She's leaving us soon." We stayed in the room together, and even the other cats could sense it. Each took a turn acknowledging Fluffy's presence, offering their nuzzle or touch. Fluffy tried to give Little the cold shoulder and hiss, but the effort was greater than the thought and so she merely turned her head away.

I lay awake most of the night. With every breath, I loved her. I told her so. I held her. I cried for her. I tried to feed her but she'd stopped eating or drinking hours ago, and her medications foamed back up out of her mouth. She couldn't take water even with a dropper.

Her weight had dramatically decreased over those last two weeks, and her spine was nearly evident. Still, in what we both knew were her last hours, she allowed me to cuddle her, allowed Dot to pet her.

She purred loudly at each touch and every word. It was a great comfort to know we were a comfort to her. The more we spoke to her, the louder she purred. The more we stroked her gently, the stronger her tail flicked.

It was in the darkness of morning when she gave a strange noise that woke both Dot and I from our troubled sleep. Her breathing was shallow and labored, and she could no longer crawl. She purred lightly. Her bladder had let go and the bed was soaked. She could do nothing but try to breathe. She couldn't close her eyes, but she was no longer seeing us.

I called my mom and asked her to come over.

And then I made the hardest decision I've ever had to make.

We took her to Dr. Laura. And I signed the paper. And we watched as Dr. Laura helped her transition to the Rainbow Bridge.

It was horrible. Painful. And easily the best decision I could have made. In just seconds, Fluffy's purring ceased. As did her pain. Her labored breathing. Her suffering.

And we cried.

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