Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Goodbye Tuna

Its been 7 years since this sweet orange cat walked into our lives. Today, we said goodbye and I am heartbroken. He was the one of the longest residents, 2nd only to our cat Baby (she and Tuna hated each other) and was most likely the oldest of the bunch. We had a suspicion that he was getting older and slowing down, but the end always feels unexpected. The finality of it is always crushing.

Over the last couple years, Tuna has been getting a little thinner and has started looking old. He still jumps up on the counter every day to drink water from the sink, he jumps the baby gates we have all over the house with the grace of a horse. He slept with us every night and he spent his days with me in my office. He was a good friend and one of the easiest pets who have ever been a part of our life.

We met Tuna in 2009. I wrote about it HERE. One night he walked into our yard as if he belonged with us and he never left. He was always a gentleman, the first real cat we ever had. The others were kept upstairs away from the dogs with a baby gate - for some reason they would not jump it. Tuna took one look at  it and jumped right over - just like a real cat (Baby still won't jump).

Tuna spent only three visits to the vet before the last week of his life. The first, when we got him. The second and third were on the same day before we moved to Ohio. He got a rabies shot at our regular vet and then later than night had a reaction, so I took him to the ER.

Last Saturday we woke up and Tuna was vomiting, a lot. We took him to the vet and they felt like he probably was in some stage of kidney failure. They gave him fluids and a couple shots of medicine. He was better for a few days. Yesterday, he didn't eat. He wouldn't jump up on the counter for water, he just laid in bed all day. We went back to the vet last night. They did some bloodwork that showed he was down to about 25% of his kidney function, but he also had something else going on - some sort of infection. He had a fever.

They gave him more fluids, some more shots of medicine and pain killers. We came home and were hopeful he would eat this morning. He did not. We took him back to the vet and the plan was that he would stay there today. We were going to give him one last shot. 24 hours of fluids and antibiotics. That should take care of whatever the problem was and buy him a week, a month, a year, maybe more.

The vet called a few times with updates. Then he called to say that Tuna's fever had increased. He wanted to xray him to see what was going on his tummy. When the vet called back, I knew it was not good news. Tuna's insides were a blur. He couldn't make out any of his organs. So he was either filled with fluid or with tumors. Tuna most likely had lymphoma and there wasn't anything left to do. I hung up the phone and started to prepare for what was coming.

The last seven and a half years have gone by so fast. It seems like just this morning he was walking into our lives and now we would be saying goodbye. Forever.

Tuna started with the name Norwyn. It meant "Friend from the North". I have nicknames for all our pets, each has evolved through the years. I immediately started calling him Wynnie. Trevor commented that it wouldn't be long until I had some completely differently name for him. So right there he cut about 4 years of name changes into 5 minutes and spit out Tuna. That name stuck. His official name at the vet was Norwyn but we never called him that. He was always our Tuna.

Over the years, Tuna really had one wish - to be an only cat. He was a loner. He didn't lay with the others and generally just tolerated them. He had the most antagonistic relationships with one of our other cats, Baby. They were often heard hissing and growling at each other.

Tuna was a people cat. He wanted to be with us. He slept with us every night and liked to be on the side of the bed closest to the door. Several years ago when we were going through a difficult time (Asha was ruining our lives), I would lay in the spare room with him, in the sun and cry. He and I would talk about running away together, finding a studio apartment and living quietly alone forever. But I couldn't figure out how to do that and take all the rest, including Trevor, with us. So instead, we commiserated until things improved.

Tuna always loved the sink. He would impatiently jump up on the counter and wait for me to turn on the faucet so he could get a drink. He did that his entire life.

When we moved to Ohio, Tuna was the only one who cried in the car. He was the only one who didn't like the drive. He settled into the new house, just like the rest and felt especially at home in my office.

Every day, I would sit down at the my desk and Tuna would sit or lay on my calendar. He was the keeper of my schedule. All day long he would get on and off my lap. Usually he would lay down and after  a bit I would get up or make him move. One day last Summer I told him he could lay on my lap as long as he wanted and I wouldn't move. Three hours later, I had to break my promise because I really had to pee!

Tuna was the first one to greet me in the morning and would walk with me to the bathroom so he could get a drink. He would cry (along with Kato) while I got their food ready and he would be ready whenever I went into the office to work. He was my constant companion.

I thought of all these things and so much more as Trevor and I drove to the vet to say our goodbyes. This is the worst part of loving an animal. It doesn't seem fair that we would chose to love something so much knowing that we would eventually have to let them go. The gravity of the decision is something that never feels okay. Knowing that this is their last day, their last hour, last minute and there is nothing you can do to stop it.

We spent about 30 minutes with Tuna. He sat on our laps, we cried and told him how much we loved him. Trevor and I talked about our favorite memories of him and how we could not believe this was happening. Then it was time. We held him as he quietly slipped away and thanked him profusely for choosing us all those years ago.

In my mind I saw him walking through our back yard, jumping the fence and slipping away into the distance. As quickly as he had showed up in our lives, he left us. He was a sweet boy and we miss him terribly now and always.

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