Saturday, October 22, 2016

R.I.P. Thomas

I'm sad to report that we've lost another kitty. This time it was Thomas, which was unexpected.

A few months back we brought him in for dental work. Due to his very skittish nature, which meant he was always hiding, it had been years since he'd been to the vet. We got his teeth taken care of, as well as blood work. The blood work was normal; however, the vet found a heart murmur. At the time, the immediate need was to address the dental situation; it was pretty bad.  The plan was to deal with that first, then let him heal fully, then onto the murmur.

Unfortunately, we didn't make it that far. While we were on vacation this past week, the cat sitter called to inform us that she found Thomas dead in the kitchen. Based on the way he was positioned and what we saw (she sent me a picture), my guess is a fatal heart attack or other traumatic event. It doesn't appear to be from a short-term illness, such as an upper respiratory infection.

So, we cut vacation short and came home to bury him. He's out next to the garden, along with Riley and George.

Thomas was about eight years old when he died. He lived a very small, fearful life. He began life as a feral kitten and he never really lost his fear of humans. I found him outside my sister's house in New York and decided to take him home. He was quite difficult to catch, since he was fearful of people,  but eventually we caught him and I drove the four hours home.  

The first four years weren't bad.  Thomas would come out from time to time and hang around, although he would never sleep out in the open. When visitors came over, he wouldn't be seen until long after everyone left.  Unfortunately,  he got out of the house by accident one day (he was an indoor cat) and it took us more than two months to catch him. It was tough because he was too afraid to come all the way to the front door.  During the time when he was gone we took in two other cats, Thelma and Louise. When we finally caught him and brought him back home, he changed. Thelma and Louise were very aggressive towards him and we were never able to solve that issue. So, he spent most of his time upstairs in our bedroom. And then we moved to the new house two years ago. From then on, he spent his life in the back of a closet or hiding under a bed. He also liked the fireplace oven (it's not in use and doesn't have a door!) because it goes pretty far back and the other cats didn't know he was there.

Looking back, I feel as though maybe I should have left him in New York to live his life as a feral cat. The life of a feral cat is short and very difficult; however, I'm not sure it was better for him to have lived a house cat's life. Sure, he was safe and lived a longer life, but what kind of life is it when he spent 95% of his time hiding under the beds or in the back of a closet, only coming out to eat and use the litter box?  He was always in fear and got bullied by a few of our other cats. There were times over the last year when I contemplated just letting him outside to do as he likes. But I couldn't bring myself to do it. I couldn't live with myself if I just let him outside after years of being inside. I also thought about re-homing him. In the end, I decided I should just keep things as they are.

Goodbye, Thomas. We loved you and hope you're now feeling free, confident and fearless at the Rainbow Bridge with Riley, George, and all our other kitties that have gone before you.

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