Friday night, we said Goodbye to Zorro. For those who didn’t know – Zorro was our nearly 20 year old cat. That’s right. He was just a few months shy of 20.
Once Upon a Time
Once upon a time, there was a boy and girl who lived with their friend in a tower (okay, it was a dual level apartment, and we lived on the upper floor). They had one cat already, Zorro. The girl was sitting at her window when she heard a quiet little mew. Concerned little meows, so she went to investigate.
There was no cat out on our patio. But there, exhausted from trying to climb up the stairs, was a filthy grey cat who trembled when I picked him up. He was covered in fleas, so I brought him inside. I knew he wasn’t anyone’s cat – mostly because there were so many cats who just roamed the neighborhood, and people had dumped kittens before. So I washed him, and was shocked to discover that he wasn’t grey. He was a little black and white cat with a little black goatee.
I wanted to find a home for him – we worked at Disneyland, and I’d found abandoned kittens and found homes for them before. But TheBoy took one look at that cat and fell in love. And promptly named him Zorro (because of the goatee) since that had bene a movie that was important to us.
Zorro was friendly (though he got more finicky the older he got). I used to joke that he wasn’t so much a cat – as a cat who thought he was a dog. He had the loudest purr in his youth. And when I was first sick with Crohns, he’d sit on my abdomen and purr as though it would cure me.
In the last year or so, he’d started to drop weight. He didn’t have as much energy and he’d have a hard time getting up the stairs. “Me too,” I used to say to him while I was recovering. And he’d meow in return.
Zorro was a noisy cat. He’d talk to you constantly. Pay attention to me. Pet me. Make room on your lap for me. Feed me. I’m out of water. In the last year he’d begun this terrified yowling. He wasn’t in pain. He just seemed to now know where he was occasionally or didn’t know how he got there. When we’d check on him, he’d settle down right away. (The vet confirmed that was just an old age memory issue. He’d forgot how he got where he was)
Friday morning he was limping a little. By Friday afternoon, he was having a hard time moving his rear left leg. So we took him to the vet. They drew blood and took urine for tests. Nothing was definitive – the leg thing seemed to be neurological. He didn’t feel like he was in pain when you touched the leg. He seemed in good spirits (he even jumped up on the little bench and jumped into his carrier).
But his kidney was only functioning at 25%. He was anemic and it seemed like something else was seriously wrong. His teeth were in horrible condition (but as much as he loved me, I could not get him to let me brush his teeth)
We talked it over and the vet sent us home with some pills. And we let him out, and… his back legs weren’t working. At all. He was dragging them both behind him. In the hour or so we were back, we just watched him fall apart.
He meowed at me, and somehow I knew he wanted to go to the litter box. So I set him next to it and watched in horror as he dragged himself into it, then he cried when he realized he couldn’t stand. I stood him up so that he could pee.
Whatever was going on, we knew we couldn’t let him suffer through it – so we went back to the vet and said goodbye. In my gut, I know that whatever malady they weren’t sure how to test for was the cause. It was strangling those nerves – and all he would have done was suffer.
They even told us that if we did all the diagnostic tests, we might not have had a cure for whatever it was. In all likelihood we’d just have a name and maybe buy a couple of months with him. Granted, that was the first trip – when they didn’t think the neurological issue was going to get worse.
The New Normal
The house is quiet. For the first Saturday in ages, he wasn’t meowing at the boys’ door – wondering why they weren’t getting up for school yet. (The start of summer was always confusing for him)
We keep looking for Zorro, listening for Zorro.
Little Kidlet – who had this guy as his best friend for his entire life – has been taking it really hard. He and I were talking this morning. And I told him that grief is usually harder to cope with when someone is part of your daily routine. When you’re used to, say, stopping at a cat’s favorite spot when you come into the room in order to pet him. Because you follow the routine, and then realize. So you’re reminded of losing him again and again. (I know it’s the same way when you lose important people – you find yourself reaching for the phone to call them. See something and want to tell them about it)