Monday, December 12, 2011


So remember how last week I was super busy, but told you about something sad that happened to us and yes, I wanted to talk about it, but had to wait until I had the time?  Well, I have a couple hours now.  Grab a seat, and possibly a tissue and read away.  Here is that story.  Just a warning-it's a long one.

It began eleven and half years ago when Andy called me from work one day in May, to tell me he was holding this adorable little kitten.  One of the girls from work had brought her in.   The kitten, her sister and her mom were all found outside in this girl's garden.  The friend at work wasn't sure what to do with them, but there was another woman at Andy's work who was very involved in an animal shelter.  In fact, the place Andy worked had quite a few cats running around that had been brought in by other people.  The problem was, the kittens were about five weeks old and would soon become feral, if they weren't around people soon.  They needed to be held constantly, to try help domesticate them.  Andy, who has always been a cat person, grabbed the calico one and she laid on his shoulder for the better part of the day.  He was hooked.  We had gotten engaged just a few months before and were preparing to move in together.  So he called to tell me and told me about this cute little kitty he was holding and could we keep her, please, please, huh can we??

Here was the problem.  I was very allergic to cats.  This is something I discovered when I was about fourteen.  I am a dog person and always had dogs around, so never really entertained the idea of having a cat, especially when I became allergic.  I could tell he really wanted to keep her though. I did have  friends I knew who had been allergic to cats, but after a month or so, became used to their own cat and the allergies all but disappeared.  Since I loved my soon to be husband, I was willing to give it a try.  If my allergies didn't go away, we were prepared to give the kitten to Andy's roommate when they moved out.

Well, for about a month I was completely miserable anytime I would go to their house.  Sneezing, itchy eyes, stuffiness, the whole thing.  But after a while I realized that my allergies started to subside.  It would take a longer period of time being around her, before they would start, and as long as I washed my hands after playing with her, I was okay.  We decided to go ahead and keep her.  Jazz became our first "baby".

Since I had never had a cat before, I wasn't sure what to expect.  She was fun as a kitten and always wanted to play, much like a puppy or dog, but as she got older she became more independent and aloof.  I liked her, but she didn't always like me and would sometimes hide in the bathroom in the hallway to take a swipe at me as I walked by.  This used to drive me crazy. Andy would defend her saying she was just playing, but she rarely did it to him.  In fact, she LOVED Andy.  Like a dog, she would run to the door to greet him when he came home from work.  She was always ready to sit in his lap when we would watch TV at night, and loved to lay on him when we went to bed.  If Andy wasn't around she would sometimes do those things with me, but it was always clear who her favorite was.

Then we went and had a baby.  I will never forget the day I came home from the hospital with Sonya.  She came running out to greet me, only to be surprised by this big bulky thing Andy carried in that held something tiny and moving inside of it.  Andy placed the car seat on the floor and she sniffed it for a bit.  Then she decided she wanted nothing to do with it, turned and haughtily walked out of the room.  She refused to sleep in our room for a week and a half.  Eventually, when she realized the little thing wasn't leaving, she got over it. She even became protective of the little pink screaming being.   When Sonya would cry she would even become concerned.  Jazz would run to us and run to the room where Sonya was crying.  Then we would get the baby and put her on the bed and Jazz would hop up look at her, look at us, then back to her.  You could almost hear her thinking,


Trust me, Jazz, we were trying.

This past April she turned eleven and was in fine health.  I've had friends with cats who live upwards of 20, so I never thought of her as old.  We hadn't taken her for her shots in a while, and over the summer Andy made a trip to the vet to get her caught up.  She had always been an indoor cat, but sometimes we let her go in our walled in backyard when we were out there.  She adored being outside. After all, it is where she was born and spent the first five weeks of her life.  She would always try to make an escape outdoors if she could.  Then at one point this past summer, she started to get mad at us when we wouldn't let her go out.  Usually in the form of shitting on Sonya's rug in her bedroom.  I think she chose there, because she knew what a pain in the ass it was for me to clean it.  I swear that cat knew those kind of things.  My husband thinks I'm crazy and would say she was just an animal and didn't know.  I'm telling you, she knew how to piss me off.  So eventually, I said screw it.  Let's let her go outside.  She can't get out of the backyard anyway and all she wanted was to be out there in the sun all day.  Andy agreed and she became the happiest cat ever.  The pooping and throwing up everywhere stopped.  She would come inside and spend the nights with us, but first thing in the morning she would be meowing to go outside again.

When we came back from RI in October, our friends who looked in on her while we were gone, Norb and Cecelia, had told us she seemed to be drinking a lot of water.  More than usual.  We noticed she had also started to lose some weight, which we had attributed to her being outside.  I thought it might be a good idea to get her checked out though, so Andy took her to the vet.  They diagnosed her with hyper thyroid, gave her some pills and ordered some special food for her.  After ten days of taking the pills, she was still losing weight and now wasn't eating as much.  Then we noticed her limping on one side.  Back to the vet she went, where they x-rayed her leg and found nothing.  The blood tests showed nothing, but she did have a fever.  Perhaps it was an infection.  So they gave her an antibiotic shot and sent her on her way.

The next day she seemed to rally a bit and act more like herself, but she was still sleeping an awful lot and eating next to nothing.  She wasn't really even asking to go outside.  Then, when my sister was here,  at one point she ran around the house to every rug trying to pee.  She would leave less than a drop of pee and it appeared to be tinged with blood.  There was something so obviously wrong with her, but we couldn't get her to the vet before Thanksgiving.  Some days she seemed like she was doing okay, then some days she completely ignored her litter box, peed anywhere, slept constantly and ate nothing.  That weekend Andy went back to the vet, where this time they did a full body x-ray.  I took the phone call two hours later from the vet informing me that she had two tumors.  One on her spine and one on her kidney-which explained the peeing problems.  They had metastasized and there was nothing really to be done.  His words to me were,

"So if she's eating and doing okay, you can let her go for a while.  Otherwise...."

I knew what that "otherwise" meant.  I had a dog we had to put to sleep because of brain tumors when I was 16, and I knew that there was no coming back from what she had.  Through tears I told Andy what the vet said and what our options were.  He was not ready to let her go yet.  She still seemed to be more on the life side of things at that point, even though she wasn't eating at all now.

Cecelia, who volunteers at an animal shelter and fosters kittens, came over with a bag of tricks to try on Jazz to see if we could at least get her to eat again.  But after three days of force feeding her, Andy and I gave up.  I felt like we were only torturing her at that point.  All she did was sleep.  Andy was reluctant to put her down, because of how much she hated going to the vet.  I don't think any animal loves it, but Jazz had a bad experience once that really put her off going.  That was when I remembered that I had heard somewhere about vets who would come to your home to put an animal down.  I did some research and found a couple.  I talked to Andy about it, but he was still not ready.  He wanted her to go on her own, although I knew that might take a while. With three little kids in the house,  I didn't think that was probably the best option.  Not to mention, she seemed to be miserable and in pain. However, she was more or less his cat and I wanted him to make the final decision, so I left him alone.

By that Friday, not yet a week since she had been diagnosed, she was looking worse than ever.  Twice that day she had tried to escape outside, which was something she hadn't done in a while.  Then that night she found a spot to lay down in the corner of the kitchen where she had never gone before.  Andy figured she was probably trying to find a place to die.  When he came home from work that night, after seeing her, he said to me,

"We need to call someone and do it tomorrow.  She is just not our Jazz anymore."

She wasn't and she looked like she was done.  So the next morning I made an appointment for the vet to come over at 1:30pm.  We let Jazz outside in the morning.  It was sunny and breezy, perfect weather for her to be outside.  Sonya was crying on and off most of the morning.  Andy was sitting outside with Jazz for a while.  I put off all the things I had to do that day and Sonya and I went outside to spend some time with her too.  The younger two, oblivious to this part of life, ran around and played.  Then the vet came at 1:30.  She was a wonderful, sweet lady, but it was like looking at a personified grim reaper.  Jazz was laying under a rose bush when she arrived and she told us we could leave her there.  She would give her one shot to knock her out and then the second shot would, well, send her to the big scratching post in the sky.

I had all the girls come over and give her one last pet and say their goodbyes.  Sonya was sobbing, and I wasn't far behind.  Then I tried to usher them inside, but Lana decided she wanted to stay and watch.  I told her no and she argued with me, until I promised her a cookie if she would join us inside.  She willingly ran in he house.

Andy stayed outside to be with Jazz.  Sonya and I sat on the couch and cried while Georgia sat near us, looking like she wanted to be sad, but didn't really understand why.  Lana jumped up and down on the floor near me asking for,

"COOOKIE!!  I want my COOKIE!!"

Seriously Lana!  Some of us are trying to mourn here!  She would not shut up about the cookie.  I think my daughter may lack empathy, or sympathy.  Perhaps both.  That might be a problem, but I couldn't think about that right now.  I just wanted her to stop, so I got up to get her cookie and looked outside to see  Andy holding Jazz as the vet administered the final shot.  Then I saw my husband, who up to that point hadn't shed a tear, break down and cry like I've never seen.  We've been together for 16 years and I've only ever seen him cry one other time.  That day, he broke.  He got it back together after about ten minutes.  Can't cry to long, you know, because he's a guy and all.  Sonya and I however, cried on and off for the rest of the day.  It was a pretty miserable day and in the middle of it, we were trying to put up Christmas lights and decorations.  Because nothing says Christmas like putting your beloved pet to sleep!

It's been hard on all of us.  Well, Andy, Sonya and me anyway.  Sonya came across an ornament when we were decorating the tree that held a picture of Jazz and started crying again.  Andy has had the worst time of us all.  There hasn't been anymore crying, but he was definitely brooding for the earlier part of last week.  I think the hardest part for us was that she wasn't that old for a cat and that it happened so damn fast.  One minute she's fine, normal, swiping at my legs in the bedroom Jazz and the next she's  a five pound mass of fur barely moving.  

And to answer the question everyone asks, yes we will most likely get another pet.  I've been wanting a dog for years, but to be honest I liked having a cat.  I wouldn't mind having both.  For right now though, we are going to grieve over the loss of this one for bit and take some time to miss her.  She was a huge part of our lives for eleven years.  She was there for some of the most important times from marriage to births.  She was a part of our family and we were in no way ready for this.  It's going to be hard without her, even if she did drive me crazy, or annoy me half the time, I still loved her.  In fact, I knew this was going to be hard on Andy when she died, but what I didn't count on was how sad I would be.  Even now writing this, I've done part of it in tears.  She was a great pet and we will miss her terribly.  Rest in Peace Jazzy cat.

Jazz and Sonya 2005


Meg Drew said...

poor Jazzy Cat :( You were a very pretty kitty and I really appreciate you not peeing on or puking in my luggage on my visit - glad I got to see you one last time!

Lindz said...

It's been 3yrs since I put my dog down. Almost the same story, amazingly. We just adopted 2 cats Wednesday, still not ready for a dog...

I'm so sorry, I truly know how heart broken you are.

Anonymous said...

It's not fair. I'm so sorry for this loss.


Kelly Kimball said...

I am so sorry to hear this. We had to do the same for Cleo and Nekki this year. 2011 was a tough year for those of us who had kitties that were very loved. I took Josie and Charlotte with me to put Nekki down. Josie still talks about Nekki. Apparently the Mega Blocks castle that she built after we got home from the vet that she won't let me take down is where Nekki lives. This happened in August. She told me just today that she misses Nekki. I cry every time she says something and I cried when I read your post. xoxo