The thing with inevitability is that no matter how many wishes upon a star, you cannot stop what is meant to be and I now find myself, a born writer, in stunned silence with no words to adequately convey both the crushing loss, yet the sobering relief of letting my beloved Ragdoll cat, Mr. Jazz (aka Jazz), finally pass to his place on the Rainbow Bridge.
On the surface you might not have even known it, but upon closer inspection, every nook and cranny looked like a cat infirmary at my house. Pill bottles, syringes, pee pads, disinfecting wash, special cat foods, pain medication, blankets in every corner, and more. But, the fact is, after a litany of blood tests, x-rays and endless examinations with no conclusive evidence in sight, and despite the mountains of cat paraphernalia dedicated to prolonging the life of my beautiful 15 year old boy, he was dying.
I, of course, did not immediately know this and made it my mission, along with my fiancé Dan, as if somehow our love and perseverance could will him back to his original healthy body weight and his younger days of life. Everything you could imagine -- regular injections of fluids in his body, pills to stimulate his appetite, and, of course, our desperate and obsessive efforts to find something to entice him to eat such as baby food, chicken broth, liver, cheese, specialty cat milks, turkey breast, tuna, and every and any brand of cat food on the market. He wanted none of it, to the point he was losing weight at such alarming levels that we were forced to bring him back to the vet to be taught how to force feed him with a syringe to bulk up his weight.
I took on the majority of the feeding battle and you would think that one frail cat versus one very stubborn and determined human would be an easy victory for the human, but that was hardly the case. Jazz became angry, depressed, and so desperate to get away from me that he would run and hide every time he saw me. I remained diligent and did my best to nourish him, but the eating victories were few and far between. This battle went on for weeks until one morning when I was getting ready for work and noticed a big bubble protruding from his throat. I woke Dan up in a complete panic, certain my time with Jazz would be reduced to minutes and we rushed him to the vet. She calmly drained the protrusion and broke the news that no pet parent ever wants to hear, "You will need to make a decision very soon, as we don't want to see a cat needlessly suffering."
Dan and I brought Jazz home and made a promise to one another -- above all else, and despite how hard the decision would be, Jazz deserved his dignity and we were not going to subject him to further tests, feeding tubes, pills, syringes, or anything else. We were going love him as much as we could and enjoy whatever time with him we would be blessed to have. That being said, it was like a mini-miracle was given to us. Jazz seemed to intuitively know it was up to him and he began to eat on his own to the point he was asking for "snacks" all day and night long which we happily obliged and let's just say that I was "cautiously overjoyed."
We were given three more glorious months with Jazz who also seemed to sense the finality of time. He would drape his body on mine like days of old when we were on the couch and give me a bear hug as if to reassure me that he knew every day he had with us was a precious gift on loan. Dan and I lavished him with kind words, love, and extra petting and for a brief moment, time just stood still for us all. That was, until everything began to change and we knew it was over. Jazz became incontinent and would take to slumbering for extended periods of time in very odd places. He was having trouble walking and took what would be his last bite of solid food and no amount of pleading, begging, crying, or cajoling would get him to eat. He began to nest and I knew he was trying to find his final resting place.
I put comfortable blankets all over the house for him to lie on -- jumping on the couch or bed was no longer an option and I spent an entire week laying by his side at night, petting him and talking to him, until I knew he wanted me to leave him alone so he could wander off without me watching him find a place to sleep through the night. He sensed that our time together at night was important and so did one of our other cats, Harley, who came to lie on the blanket next to us one night when Jazz was laboring to get comfortable. I tried to shoo her away, but she got vocally agitated with me and pressed the warm girth of her body into his. I realized she was offering him her comfort and I let her stay with us until I went to bed.