Inevitable Heartbreak | Six Days

Wednesday, we brought Gerald home. We went to Wal-Mart and got him a litter box, food, toys, and a carrier. We wrapped him in a towel to introduce him to our mutts. He slept in the laundry room, and Thursday morning J found him sitting in the washing machine pedestal, having found his way in from behind the machine, but unsure how to get out.

Thursday, he got the nickname “potato”. Instead of curling up like most cats, Gerald would hunch down and tuck his feet under his body until he resembled a fuzzy spud. He slept most of the day, choosing our bed or J’s wing-back chair. I got jealous of J when Gerald curled up in his lap, thinking he preferred J, instead of the chair. He slept peacefully on the arm of the couch during movie night.

Friday, Gerald met our cousins. They were blown away by his tiny-ness and his sweet disposition. We left him alone for a couple of hours to have lunch with the cousins, but he was happy to snuggle up with us when we got home.

Saturday, J had to work in the morning, and then we worked outside sanding and staining Little One’s furniture. Gerald slept peacefully on our bed, completely unaffected.

Sunday, Gerald finally warmed up to the dogs and laid down on the floor with them for a nap.

Monday night, he had an accident on our bed. His urine was bright yellow, a warning sign to any cat-mom. We cleaned up the mess and put him to bed with a big bowl of water to help with what we assumed was dehydration.

Tuesday morning, he was so weak, he couldn’t even walk. I called the vet and had Gerald in the office by 8 am. A well-meaning (I hope) but ill-mannered vet tech asked me accusatory questions about what we’d done to him. Did I step on the kitten? Had he been bitten by a dog? Did I give him rat poison? I was offended and wounded as it became clear that something was very, very wrong with our sweet boy. His red blood cell count was 6%, normal is over 30%. He needed an immediate blood transfusion.

It costs $800 for a blood transfusion for a kitten. $800. Logic and budgeting aside, I plopped down my debit card. Save my furry baby.

J came from work to be the voice of reason. He talked to the doctor, asking the questions I couldn’t think of through my tears. What’s the prognosis, next steps, where do we draw the line? I signed a DNR. Don’t make him suffer. If he’s ready to go, let him go. 

They blew through the $800 deposit. Gerald would need more tests, lab work, diagnostics. Costs were mounting and the doctors were no closer to figuring out what was wrong with him. I started questioning every decision, everything we’d done. Did we do this to him?

We couldn’t keep dumping money into him. It would be irresponsible. So we surrendered him to the vet. Un-adopted him. They let me say goodbye. I told him to hang in there and that I loved him. If he pulled through, we would be their first call to re-adopt.

In the meantime, we really did want a kitten, so we adopted sweet Violet, another grey tabby, just a few weeks older than our fuzzy potato. She’s different: playful and curious, but timid and anti-doggie. She likes to wedge herself between the pillows on our bed. Gerald was our potato, Violet is our taco. 

Wednesday, I got the call: Gerald passed away in his sleep overnight. They did all they could for him, but he had pleural effusion – fluid around his heart. There are a number of causes, but nothing that we did wrong in our short time with him. The doctor wasn’t sure why, but they are going to run more tests.

We got to love Gerald for six days. We got to give him a home and a family and a fighting chance. Now, we get to love Violet. It’s hard not to make comparisons, to wish she was him. She attacks my toes and chews on my papers. Today, she spent much of the day in a battle with my pillow, but they seem to have made peace as she’s currently snuggled up to it, fast asleep. I love her, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less.

Rest in peace, potato, it was an honor to be your mom…

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