Lost After Loss

In early 2012, I adopted a tiny fuzzball Siamese kitten. He was 6 weeks old and absolutely perfect. He was with his brother. Their names were Cheech & Chong. After spending nearly a week with “Cheech,” I renamed him Percy. The animal rescue facility asked me if I was sure I wanted to adopt him, as he had a heart condition. Slightly offended, I said I was sure, as I too have heart issues. He was about 18 months when the vet told me he may have a full life, or he may only last another 6 months – it was uncertain. He had a grade IV-V heart murmur. I thought that day was rough.

December 13th 2017: I noticed he seemed to be breathing heavier than normal. I took him into the vet and they did a chest x-ray that revealed that his entire abdomen was filled with fluid. He was in severe heart failure. She did a chest tap and the fluid that was drawn out was full of blood, not clear like it was supposed to be. That’s the thing about cats, they are very good at hiding their pain. She called ahead to the animal hospital and I rushed him there, where I ended up having to put him to sleep. It was the hardest thing I had ever faced, and I spoke at my grandfather’s funeral at the age of 10.

If there was ever a cat to be qualified as an emotional support animal, Percy was it – from day one. He was there for me through so much. I know that may be hard to understand because he couldn’t speak (although, being a Siamese, he felt differently), but he could definitely console. During the time that I had Percy, I dealt with a multitude of medical issues from neurological to GI to cardiac to psychiatric. He was always there. Living alone wasn’t lonely with him.

I suffer from major depression, anxiety, and panic disorder – I was in remission from my depression, until I lost him. Losing him was like losing a large part of myself. I no longer was comfortable in the silence because I no longer had him by my side. Despite living with Michael, our home felt empty. This loss hit me like a load of bricks. I had no motivation. When I wasn’t at work, I was curled up on the couch or in bed. When people tried to talk to me about it, or I thought about him, my eyes filled with tears.

December 30th: I wasn’t ready to move on from Percy, but I was ready to rescue another kitten. We went to the shelter and met Lincoln (aka Buzz Lightyear, at the shelter). He was a timid little black-and-white kitten who was curled up in his dome bed with his brother (Woody). He was scared, but when I pulled him out, he curled up in my arms and purred. He was the right kitten. He wasn’t taking Percy’s place, but burrowing his way into a new space in my heart. We’ve had Lincoln a little over a month now. I still think about Percy often. Lincoln is starting to fill up the crater left by the loss of Percy.

It’s amazing what pets do for us.

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