Last night my husband and I had to make that awful decision of putting down my 19-year-old cat, Derick. He had kidney failure and it was the humane thing to do, as he stopped eating over a week ago and was losing weight rapidly. Worst of all, he was lethargic … spacing out. And he had his last epileptic spell yesterday. We did everything we could, even left him at the vets a few nights hoping he’d have an amazing comeback. But that didn’t happen. The vet suggested taking him home to live out his life comfortably. Yet, he was anything but comfortable, and just hanging on — as the survivor. The last straw was that he could no longer stand to drink his weather — or walk. May he rest in peace, my beautiful little boy, Mommy’s little heart.
This cat gave me so much joy for 19-years. Back in the 1990s my friend Janet had a beautiful gray cat. When I learned this cat was pregnant, I just had to have one of the kittens. One was a beautiful orange and white cat. I choose that one, but Janet said, “That one is for my niece. She’ll kill me if I give her away.”
So Derick was my second choice. Janet said, “That’s a great choice. He does funny things.”
And for 19 years he continued to do funny things. Derick was my heart and soul. From the time he was a kitten, he slept with me every night, putting his paw around my arm, as if to say, “This is my chick!”
Derick was much more than a cat. He was very smart, as if a little person was inside him. And he played my husband like a steel guitar. Derick truly knew how to “work the cute.”
There were many legendary moments, but these are my top three favorite.
#1. There’s a movie about The Turtles called “My Breakfast with Jimi.” Derick really seemed to take to the Turtles music and the first time we watched the movie, he watched it with us — from the opening song, to the ending credits. He’d sit with us and watch the entire movie. We watched it again, and he did the same thing. Even a third and fourth time. He just loved that movie. If we couldn’t find Derick in the house, all we had to do was put on “My Breakfast with Jimi” and he’d come running into the room.
#2. Derick always picked on my other cat Billy. Derick was extremely jealous of Billy and would get into these terrible fights with him and we’d have to separate them. One time I caught him in the act — about to take a swat at Billy with his paw. Really loud, I scolded, “No, no, no!” Derick just froze, paw in mid-air, then in very slow motion brought his paw down and walked away, slowly, with his head down.
#3. The time my father-in-law was over watching baseball and Derick tried to hit the ball on the television with his paw.
#4. Derick adored my husband. The week before Derick passed, my husband came home a little later than usual. Derick heard the door and sprang off the couch and ran to him. Both of my cats did that. When my husband came home, they’d run to the door like dogs. And when I went out, my husband said, Derick would stand by the door and cry for me.
How could anyone not love the unconditional love of a pet?! Some say dogs are more lovable, but not in this house. If you provide a cat with a lot of love, he/she will give it back tenfold. They may seem aloof, but they are not really. Cats are just as mushy as dogs, if you let them be.
It’s said that dogs can make about 30 different sounds and cats can make 100. Well, Derick must have discovered all 100 sounds because his vocals were legendary — so much so that my husband and I would randomly pick a sound and mimic him just for a laugh. My favorites were “Mur-ROW” and “Et-OW!”
One night my husband and I were the in the audience of a cable show where his band was going to perform the following week. During the dead silence in between acts, my husband let out an “Et-OW!” in honor of Derick. It was funny to us, of course, but no one else knew what it was about. Our little cat secret.
We have so much love and respect for anyone who treats cats like family. I think both of my cats lived to the age of 19 because that’s exactly how I treated them. They were just there, as part of my life no matter what was going on. In 19 years, the cats were with me in three different homes — my first apartment that I sublet from my grandmother; my second apartment; and finally living in a house with my husband, a house both cats embraced and eventually took over. Our cats home, and we just live here. That’s exactly how it was and every pet owner understands it.
And then they steal our hearts … with the unconditional love, their funny ways, the late night snuggling … as they go from kittenhood, to kitten/cat, to cat, and then old cat. They grow with us and change as the years go on. There’s always something to learn from a cat. While my oldest Billy Cat taught me to slow down and embrace life; Derick taught me to be strong. Derick was always the survivor, the true meaning of a cat having nine lives. While Billy was never sick until his old age, Derick was always in and out of vet’s offices. I still can’t believe he made it to 19. But as one vet said, “Feisty and stubborn.” That was our Derick, and that’s what we love about him.
My God! I will miss that little critter terribly.
Last night a big chunk of our hearts — ripped out and tossed to the curb.
But he is no longer suffering … waiting for us, in greener pastures, out of his suffering and kitten-like again.
Derick, you will always be Mommy’s little heart, and our little kitten in heaven. ❤