Stevie and I had to put our cat Oscar to sleep today after a short, but clearly devastating illness. He lost a lot of weight over a short stretch of time, dropping from 10 pounds in Spetember to 6.5 in late-December, most the weight loss ocurring over the last few weeks. Our vet diagnosed him with kidney failure last week and prescribed a course of medicine and special food hoping it would give us a few extra years. But at the end of the week he'd only gained a fraction of the weight back, was frequently ill, and clearly not enjoying a high quality of life. The decision was hard, but not as hard as what would certainly have come next. The vet suspected that, given the medicine's ineffectiveness, he probably had a tumor in his digestive tract.
I adopted Oscar in 1996 after losing another cat to illness. He spent the first few days holed up in my closet, growling ferociously whenever I'd get near. I dropped off his food and water and kept my distance. Eventually he came around. I have an early, pleasant memory of curling up next to him in my bedroom in Madison listening to a U2 concert at the stadium nearby. He was always good for a curl. Apart from food and napping on top of random objects (in boxes, on computers, atop discarded hats) it's pretty much what he lived for.
It was from that same window that Oscar tumbled one night, sustaining neurological damage that left him unable to move three limbs for a week. He recovered thanks to the work of my great Madison vet and was walking by the end of the week. Only his trademark ragged ear remained to remind everyone of the traumatic experience.
Oscar was always sweet with me but could be a bit of an S.O.B. to others, particularly Stevie in the our dating years. He also made it hard to eat. When I lived with Nathan, he once reported losing an entire rotisserie chicken to him. Apparently Oscar walked around the apartment with it like it was a fresh kill. He terrorized houseguests. He smacked the dog in the face. He had his turf and knew to defend it.
But he was a sweetheart if he gave you the chance to get to know him. He even accepted Stevie after a while, spending most nights snuggled up next to her in bed. (True, he'd bite her if he wanted to jump out, but still...)I lived in five different locations with me but I think he liked this last one the best. It gave him lots of room to roam and plenty of closets to hide in. Mostly, however, he was happiest hanging out with us. He was good at that. We miss him.