My cat Smuttynose, a.k.a. Smutty, Smutters, Nosey, Noser, Tigger, Fluffyface, Winkins, Scion of Evil, and Elnie’s Baby, died on Nov. 1.
Smuttynose came into my life in 2000, a birthday present from my ex-wife. We went to a local animal shelter to pick out a kitten, but we found a scared orange cream neutered male cat who winced in his cage. We brought him home and he immediately hid under the bed (as newbie cats are wont to do), but through time he showed an eagerness and friendliness towards humans. He was more dog than cat, always exploring whenever people were about.
During my separation, Smuttynose came to live with me in my shitty (former) apartment. He stood by me, all whiskers and fluffy paws, through divorce, moving, evacuation from Hurricane Sandy and moving again.
My girlfriend Elnie fell in love with him and called him her baby. He was a well-fed, well-loved house-lion, a tiny beastie who never lashed out in anger and was a gentle creature.
He was the King of Kitties.
But even kings are not incorruptible to the crushing forces of time.
He developed diabetes, a heart murmur and early stages of kidney disease. We gave him two shots of insulin for a year and worked on lowering his blood pressure.
A month before he died, he vomited six times in one day, prompting an emergency vet visit.
Then, on Nov. 1, we noticed him limping, dragging his left front paw. I knew immediately what was happening. We’d have to say goodbye.
The vet told us he developed a blood clot. Though she recommended a follow-up with a cardiologist and an aspirin regimen, the vet’s grim prognosis was that Smuttynose had six months left. He would be living in pain, and if nothing could be done, the limb would turn gangrenous and have to be amputated. The idea of a tripod cat didn’t appeal to us, since the poor animal suffered too much already.
We decided to have him humanely put down.
I sign the papers authorizing the euthanasia as he sits on the examination table, one leg folded under He’s been through so much, a lifetime of bliss and trauma. He’s an old man, stricken with diabetes and a heart murmur.
The vet inserts the catheter as Smuttynose rests comfortably on a plaid blanket. We say our goodbyes, but are still in shock. Even when the vet inserts the first injection, the one which will stop his heart and “send him to heaven” as the aide told us, time freezes. Smuttynose’s head sinks low. His pink tongue lolls out of his mouth, his eyes wide open. Elnie and I lose it. I turn away, unable to process what’s happening.
In that one horrible transformative moment, he ceases to exist. He’s gone, leaving his still-warm body curled in a heap on the blanket.
Smuttynose embarks on his final journey, one taking him beyond the stars to Bastet’s realm.
My first pet and four-legged child is no more, dust for the ages.
Shaken, we thank the vet and her assistants and leave silently.
Five days later we receive the cremated remains in a rosewood box adorned with a brass engraved plaque reading “NOSEY”. We also receive a card about the Rainbow Bridge, a mythical place in the afterlife where all pets go to await their owners. It was beautiful and comforting.
We bought a bouquet of flowers and delivered it to the animal hospital, thanking them for the compassion they showed during the whole agonizing ordeal.
I’d like to think Smuttynose is on the Rainbow Bridge, chasing squirrels and birds, rejuvenated and young, breathing sweet air and eternal happiness.