I sit here, trying, to no avail, to hold back the tears that are forcing their way out because my cat Rocket passed away today. I felt like writing this post would help me get through his passing a little easier and allow those who never got the chance to meet him to know a little bit about one of the best parts of my life.
He was just a few months short of turning twenty years old and while I know that’s a lot more time than many people get with their pets, it hasn’t made things any easier, possibly harder. I got him when I was about eight years old after our last cat had passed away. He was already a year old, but still fairly small. He had come from a shelter where he was loved dearly by the elderly ladies who rescued him, but had come from an abusive home before that. He was skittish to say the least. He was afraid of men so he latched onto my mom and sister immediately. I was pretty quiet so, while we weren’t best friends he came near me more often than my adult-sized (but animal loving) father and my younger brother who was nothing short of bonkers at the age of six. So while he wasn’t always quick to come up to me I loved him from the moment he was brought home. Also, it really only took him a few weeks to warm up to the whole family. He was a chocolate tabby so he had black, brown, and gray stripes. He was insanely playful and would fly around the house, his name fitting him perfectly.
As he got older he became less zany and playful in that respect, but was still always willing to play with a toy or to track an intruding squirrel or rabbit from our bay windows. It was very funny watching him grow from a small young cat into a very large adult cat. He was very tall and got up to a hefty twenty pounds at his biggest. As I got older he was always by my side. He spent plenty of time with the rest of my family, especially my mom, his “rescuer,” but we were together any time I was home. He was exactly the kind of animal companion anyone could ever hope for. He was there to watch movies with me and he was there to sleep next to and he was there to have fun with and he was there when my heart was broken. He was always there. I really feel that today I have lost a best friend and it is absolutely one of the hardest days of my life. It doesn’t hurt any less than when I’ve lost any of my human family members or friends.
The funny thing about Rocket was that over the years the vets would continuously find strange medical issues with him, nothing life threatening or even terrible, just…odd. His front right paw was about 2 sizes bigger than the other three. He had a weird clump of stuff like fuzzes and fake plastic Christmas tree needles that just stayed in his stomach and never went anywhere (the vets thought it was hilarious that he would just eat stuff, be unable to fully digest it and nothing would hurt him). The only somewhat major issue he was a growth on his thyroid gland that my mom found, at least twelve years ago. We were terrified it was cancer or something else that would take him away from us. Nope. We gave him a pill for it most days for about ten years until the vet told us we didn’t have to anymore. It was a quite a bit of relief. So from there on we just kept an eye on him and took him to his regular checkups and everything was fine. No matter what popped up he bounced back and we just kept on loving him.
About three years ago he stopped eating on his own and he kept acting as if he were in pain. Well, being that he was about seventeen we figured he was going to pass away around then, but my mom decided that we would try spoon-feeding him to see if he improved and if not, well we’d cross that bridge when we came to it. So after about three days I guess he decided that he was tired of the spoon in his mouth and went right back to his normal routine. Eating and no more pain. The vet checked him out and everything went back to normal. About two years ago he started to do it again, and again, we got him to turn around, but I think this was mostly due to the fact that we rescued a very tiny black and white kitten, which we named Zoey. He started eating all of his food so there was no chance that she could go from her bowl to his and take any of it. I know it was him just being dominant, but even between their little cat-fights and whatever other issues two cats living together face, they got along and I truly believe that she helped keep him with us these last two years. Being that she’s a bit of a loner, I’m not sure how much his absence will effect her, but I’m keeping an eye out. I’m glad we have her to help us through this. She’s sitting in my lap cuddling with me as I write this.
So, about two weeks ago, he stopped eating on his own, so we figured that we’d just have to jump start his appetite again. This time it wasn’t working and now his back legs were starting to become very weak, but he was still able to do everything else on his own and we really thought he’d bounce back again, but not even appetite stimulant pills worked. Starting about two days ago it was clear that he was getting ready to go and pretty much stopped doing anything except lay down next to my mom on the couch. We gave him water and assumed that he was going to pass in the night, but he hung in until this afternoon. He’d look at whoever would come in the room and occasionally look for water and even wrap his paw around your finger, but we knew he was really just hanging on for us. So we said goodbye to him today and he passed away. I made a nice grave for him in our backyard under the Butterfly Bushes because he always loved staring at the butterflies and the bumblebees that flew around it all summer from our back porch.
I wish I could go on and on about so many of my wonderful memories of the last nineteen years, but it’s just too much. It’s a lifetime. I’m so grateful for all the time I got to have with him, and while I know I’m better for having had him in my family, I know it’s going to be very hard without him for a long time. I can barely remember a time in which he wasn’t in my life. He was a symbol of joy, hilarity, friendship and love. I’m going to love him and miss him for the rest of my life. There is a hole in my heart and it will take a long time for me, my family and close friends to heal.
The photo above is one taken by my sister for a calendar contest. It was a finalist and made it in as a part of a photo collage in the back of the calendar.