Monday, March 09, 2009

Goodnight, Simon

It's been two weeks since we had little Simon put to sleep, and I think I can finally write about it. (I say "little Simon" not because that was his nickname, but because the phrase is stuck in my head: our neighbors Charles and Jane used to watch our cats when we went away, and while it was usually Charles who came over to feed and water them, on at least one occasion Jane came over. When we got back she reported that "little Simon came out to see me!", and I can still hear her charming, musical voice saying it. Somewhere we still have her voice on an old answering machine cassette tape - she died while Simon was still a kitten, so I guess he really was little at that time.)

While Kringle has been very friendly in the mornings, I miss the old routine with Simon, however annoying it could be. Once we started feeding him soft food in the morning (to keep his weight up), he made a habit of waking us by scraping at the windowshades, usually around 4:15 AM or so. Doing so involved leaping to a fairly high dresser loaded with much stuff (keys, change, DVD boxes, socks, etc.). If that failed, he'd jump down and start scraping at the corner of the box spring, until one of us finally got up to feed him. It was far less cute at 4:15 AM than it reads now.

Our friend Mary took excellent care of him - she's a cat-lover who's tended many sick animals, both hers and others' - but he didn't eat well for her. He'd been eating less even for us, and I'll feel forever guilty that we went to the film festival at all, but he'd held on for so long that perhaps I didn't accord proper weight to the signs of his decline: reduced appetite, unsteady gait, inability to fend off or run from Kringle's relentless play. At Mary's, he just stayed in a clothes closet rather than joining the other cats; Mary did encourage him to get up on the windowsill to watch birds, but other than that he was inactive.

We'd warned Mary that Simon was a digger, but her initial response to his digging: "OMFG". Apparently he emptied nearly the entire small litter box we left him onto the floor. (He was the main reason we switched to hooded litter boxes; he would dig mindlessly, looking around at other things, in both the litter and the cat food. The texture of granulated gritty-bits between his toes must've been fascinating to him.)

He ate rather poorly the first night back, Monday. We thought some of it might be the adjustment and post-abandonment shock, but he ate very little Tuesday, and by Tuesday night he just wanted to sit around, lifting his head to observe, but clearly too tired to move his body.

Wednesday was worse; he ate almost nothing in the morning, and I went to work but came back early when Charlotte called and said he wasn't doing well. He wouldn't eat, drink, or use the litter box; he laid in his bed, and when we moved him around, trying to think of something he'd like to look at, he would remain wherever we put him. When we finally took him to the vet late that afternoon, he was down below 7 pounds.

I miss him. I truly can't complain, because we had him through the holidays and knowing what was coming gave us the chance to treat him specially, enjoy him, savor the time with him. But it's still a constant dull ache that he's gone. I feel somewhat ashamed not to have written earlier, but have been trying to spend the last two weeks persistently distracted, not really dealing with it.

As I said, we had him longer than we had any right to, given the severity and aggressiveness of his cancer. But it still wasn't enough.

I'm going to miss his tunneling, the way he'd scrape at the sheets until we lifted them, so he could burrow down near our knees and then more often than not decide he didn't like it and come right back out again. But the times he stayed, beneath the sheets between us, oddly content, I slept well indeed. At least until 4:15 AM.

And I'm going to miss all the things I wrote about you when you first got sick, and all the countless things I've forgotten and will be kicking myself for forgetting to write.

Bye, buddy. I'm sorry we couldn't do more for you, but glad you stayed as long as you did.