Sunday was a hard day. I was cleaning out my old apartment–something I’ve been dreaming about for a long time–but instead of feeling a sense of joy and new impending adventure, I was mourning my wonderful cat, Vincent.
He died about two weeks ago. So I’m leaving the last place he was alive before I’ve had a chance to fully process his loss. And while I loved all my pets, Vinny was the one who felt like a part of my sense of self. Lynn and Vin, a friend used to say. How could it not be?
I know I did everything I could for him. And I know I did more than most people do for their pets. But it doesn’t matter. He’s not here. And he’s not coming back.
We had a good last three days. He was feeling better from intravenous fluids. The night he got back from his last hospital visit, I slept on the floor next to him and he put his head on my heart and he stayed that way, cuddled into my side, for most of the night.
I was hoping to have another week or two with him. But the next day he started sneezing, then coughing. By nightfall, it was clear he was having difficulty breathing. During end-stage kidney disease, you can have too much fluid in your lungs and drown. I knew I had to make the call.
His last morning, he showed me his belly as best he could, looking for a little more love and comfort. And then it was done.
I wrote him an obituary (posted below) in the days leading up to his death. It feels a little silly, but Vinny wasn’t your usual cat. I wanted people to understand that. And I needed to say goodbye.
Albuquerque—This is a young Vincent, my beautiful cat-kid, (aka Vinny, Vinny van Gogh, Mister, Vinster, Small Fry, Buddy, and, most recently, Mouse). He died October 14, 2019. He was about 16. All loved pets leave an indelible mark on our lives, but, if we’re lucky, there’s that one who nestles into your heartspace with astounding ferocity. For me, that was Vincent.
Vincent came into my life while I was living in Brooklyn. He was six years old and very sick. His previous owner, a person remembered only as Evil Esther, had neglected him. I took over his care, but eventually every single tooth had to be pulled due to prior malnutrition. Once he started to recover, his lionhearted love became clear to everyone. Soon people began asking me if he was up for adoption. He wasn’t. He moved with me to Wisconsin where he lived five mostly healthy years and enjoyed (almost) every minute of it.
Vinny loved people and hated to be alone. When he moved to Albuquerque, he fought off his first of many pancreatitis bouts, surprising vets with his recovery time and time again, though his quality of life was never quite the same. Throughout it all, he befriended everyone he met. We often took walks around the apartment complex without a leash where he enjoyed saying hello to passersby. Vinny was never afraid to make a new friend. He introduced me to dozens of neighbors over the years, many I ended up knowing by name, a few quite well. He was briefly dubbed mayor of the complex until poor health forced him to resign. Some of his amazing abilities were even mentioned anonymously in an article in The Morning News: https://themorningnews.org/article/the-last-dying-cat
His favorite food was chicken lunchmeat, and he used to pace in front of the stove impatiently whenever someone was roasting a bird. When he was still young, he loved to race with me down the hall to get into bed. During his final hospitalization, the vet tech told me he had been hugging everyone who held him—as was his way. A prior vet tech used to draw hearts on his bandages and tell me, “Only for him.”
Vincent’s medical bills have been … well, you might imagine. Then imagine some more. But if a cat can be grateful, I think he was. He was loved by so many, and I would adopt him again in a heartbeat. I love you, Vinny. Please come with me in my heart wherever I go.