My Orange Crush

 

This is my story about one of the greatest cats I’ve ever known — Hobbes.  In his short time with me, he had become a good friend.  He went to heaven today and I know made a lot of Saints smile when he swept past Jesus with his cool swagger and gentle head butts.

Hobbes was actually my neighbor’s find.  They had been feeding him because he didn’t appear to have a home.  We’ve talked about it over the last few years that, since he was so calm around other pets and never fearful, he must have belonged to someone who moved away and left him behind.

Hobbes kept hopping the fence to visit with us while we were in the yard.  Easily fitting into our pack, lowering his head at each dog for a little touch of hello.  Slowly, I started feeding him, too.  He’d always be waiting by the backdoor in the morning to be fed and eventually he spent more time at our house than the neighbors. Then winter came. It got cold and I asked Mr. Bee if Hobbes could come in at night.  His response was always the same, “He has a fur coat, he will be fine.  We don’t need anymore cats in the house.”  Then, one week Mr. Bee went out of town.  When he came home, I had the fire roaring in the fireplace with Hobbes snuggled up on the couch.  Mr. Bee asked why Hobbes was in the house?  I replied, “He said he was cold.”  Mr. Bee didn’t protest and from that day on, Hobbes was another member of our family.

Hobbes didn’t mind being in the house at night, but he loved to spend his days in the backyard.  Under the bench, in the grass, sleeping on the porch in a chair.  Sometimes, he’d venture into the neighborhood.  On occasion he’d walk me down the street to my Bible study, wait on the porch for me until I was finished, then walk me home.  He always came when I called him, especially at night when it was time to go to bed.  His calling card was the bell and pink collar around his neck.  He was secure enough in his manhood to wear pink and wear it well.  I could hear his bell get closer and closer as I would call to him.  It always made me smile.

Back in the summer I noticed he was losing weight.  We took him to the vet and all his lab work came back normal.  We attributed his weight loss to a loss of appetite from the heat.  So, I started having him come inside during the hottest time of the day.  The next month, he looked even thinner.  This time his labs showed an increase in white blood cells and a decrease in his red blood cells.  We started him on antibiotics and steroids.  This plan went on throughout the fall.  His weight seemed to stabilize, his appetite was better and we got through the winter.

By the time Valentine’s Day rolled around, he was down to nine pounds from 13 and we were back into the vet’s office.  He was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, similar to Lupus in humans.  The vet explained that with a strong dose of daily steroids we could stabilize his condition, but he would never recover from it and likely his body would start shutting down rejecting the regimen.  Only time would tell how long that would take.

So, for the next four months, Hobbes allowed me to give him four doses of medication every morning and night.  I wrapped him like a baby and he swallowed each pill.  He never scratched me, hissed or tried to bite me.  He usually purred at first because I always started this routine with “I love you, Buddy.” About two weeks ago, he was laying on the rug and I laid down on the floor next to him.  I cried and for about 20 minutes I placed my hand on this body and just felt his breathing.  I told him all I needed to say which was basically he was the best cat ever and I loved him the best. 

In the last few days, he lost interest in eating and couldn’t keep it down.  He had no energy and was just bones.  He looked like a stuffed animal without the stuffing.  I couldn’t bear the thought of him wandering off to die in someone’s flower bed and me never knowing what happened to him.  But, I kept feeling like I was giving up on him.  Did he know I had done all I could for him?  I hoped so.

I was with him when the vet euthanized him.  He was purring the loudest purr I had ever heard come from him.  Probably because he was trying to comfort me.  I was whispering in his ears, “I love you, Buddy.  I love you the best.”  I loved feeling the softness of his ears against my lips one last time.  When it was over, he looked like he was sleeping.  No more pain.  I knew Earnie and Ray had already scooped him up to show him off to their friends.  He can do all the things he loved to do and didn’t have the energy for anymore — eat birds, chase squirrels and climb trees.  His favorite place to sit was under the bench in the backyard, the perfect place to stalk his prey.  It will be the place we bury his ashes.

As we were leaving the vet’s office, one of my favorite songs was playing “Bright” by Echosmith…

“Did you see that shooting star tonight?
Were you dazzled by the same constellation?
Did you and Jupiter conspire to get me?
I think you and the Moon and Neptune got it right
‘Cause now I’m shining bright, so bright.

I love you, Buddy.  I love you the best.

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