~ Julie Wenzel
|Migraine, when we first met|
At some point he realized that a cat, a blond tabby with big green eyes, was sitting on the sidewalk watching him. After a while he locked up the car and started across the street to our building. The cat followed along. Robert opened the door, looked at the cat and said "Are you coming?" and the cat trotted in. He then followed Robert up three flights of stairs to our door. And came in.
This was our introduction to the cat we came to call Migraine*.
|Migraine doing his "noble feline" impression|
That's when things got complicated. Migraine was not a young cat after all. Dr. F. was sure he was at least 11 or 12. He also had a "galloping" heartbeat, which Dr. F. correctly guessed (and confirmed via blood work) was related to an overactive thyroid. We tried out medications and eventually found a dosage that slowed his heartbeat without making him logy.
A handsome, friendly young cat is one thing. A handsome, friendly middle-aged cat with a bad heart and a thyroid condition was another. It looked like Migraine was staying with us. We had a talk with our three felines and told them they'd just all have to learn to get along.
|Migraine with his favorite newspaper|
Over the years his health declined. By 2012 his thyroid meds were no longer controlling his galloping heartbeat and his kidneys were starting to go. His eyesight was so poor that I had to remove the top from the litter box so he could find the way in.
2013 was an especially bad year for Migraine. He periodically stopped eating. Each time it happened, I'd find some new, more interesting food for him to try. For the past six weeks or so, I gave him pieces of chopped up broiled chicken in every meal. That worked pretty well for a while. But this week nothing worked. He simply stopped eating. After a day he wobbled around or lay on the floor panting. He spent Thursday panting and staring at the side of the refrigerator, or the radiator, or a blank wall. He was getting emaciated. He was confused. He would drink water and pee while he stood there, seemingly unaware.
I thought – hoped – he would die gently in his sleep. But he didn't, so we knew it was time to intervene. We carried him to the veterinarian's office down the block. We took this final picture of our poor sad boy.
It was quick and merciful. We stayed in the room talking to him and petting him and crying throughout it all. No regrets, just tears.
"Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet."
*About the name: We tried out several names for Migraine. This one stuck because he often walked around squinting the way I do when I have a migraine, and because his aggression toward the other cats was enough to give anyone a headache.