I live in a house with my boyfriend and our best friend, Schrute my 8-year-old feline. Yesterday I took her to an emergency vet because of vomiting and shallow breathing. To get there I had to enlist my boyfriend’s sister and, as he drove from work to meet us at the vet’s office, he got stuck on an unplowed back road. He ended up digging himself out bare handed in canvas shoes as he waited for a tow. We brought her home, so he never saw the vet, but it wasn’t good news. Our little love’s body is full of fluid that should not be there. It’s cramping her lungs and clouding her entire x-ray. It’s a sneaky but undefined thing. The most likely culprit is lymphoma or FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis). Both are incurable and, in the ultimate end, fatal. The length of time any individual cat has once a condition is recognized is variable. Based on the amount of fluid build up Schrute has it isn’t likely she’ll be here much longer.
Schrute is our best friend. I named her after a character from “The Office” almost six years before I met my boyfriend, an avid “The Office” fan. An important note here is that I kind of detest the show. I didn’t bring her into the home we shared until we’d lived together three months. Immediately, they connected. She came out from under the bed, first, for him. They snuggled and bonded while I was at work. He helped her meet the dog in that house more than I did. Honestly, I’ve known her since she was a kitten but it was my boyfriend meeting her when she was 7 that really showed me how deep her capacity to feel the beings around her goes.
If either of us are distressed she’ll come and snuggle up on our chests. When we’re both upset she splits the difference and tries her hardest to touch us both. We have a bag of treats we call her “party time” and any time a bag wrinkles in the house Kitty comes running. In the last couple of months I’ve taken to giving her any scraps from our plates I can. Every night she comes into our bed and bites my boyfriend somewhere on the hair or face to wake him up. We used to try everything we could to get her to stop. Replace her food, give her fresh water, turn down or up the heat depending on what we guessed her need was. Eventually we realized she wants him to get up, walk out of our bedroom… and that’s it. All the little purr wanted was a attention.
We often sit around petting her and talking about how wonderful she is. It probably comes right behind Netflix as our most-regularly-undertaken activity. Without being absurdly spoiled, she is our little princess kitty. But, despite how much attention we give her, and how much we love her, I didn’t realize how we depend on her. She keeps us smiling and sweet. The past few months have been, a lot of the time, a fucking goddamn nightmare. Throughout there has been our little Schrute. Snuggling up at night. Nibbling his hair. Watching me go through yoga routines. Any time one of us cries or doesn’t know what to do, there she is. Nudging her way under our hands or onto our chests. Kneading any of our body parts in that soft way kitty’s have.
Whether it’s tomorrow, or in three months, or a year, or any length of time from now, losing her is going to be… It’s going to be. It’s going to happen. I always told her and my boyfriend and anyone that would listen we’d be together for many years to come. At least 7, 10 at best. She’s still so young. And now, facing it, no amount of time could ever be enough. It couldn’t be. And on the face of it, she seems okay. She’s eating, drinking, playing. But the way her body rises and falls with every breath is not natural. Her purrs are accompanied with a rasp that seems a bit off. As long as we can keep her with us and comfortable… as long as… She has special soft food mixed with water and whatever special food I can think to give her. We’ve been crying and petting and loving her, thinking about all the time we’ve had, and trying not to think about how little or much might be left.