Saturday, December 26, 2015

Quill's Bridge

December 21, 2015 was a very sad day for Natalie and I.  Our big, fat buddy, Quill, had to be put down.  

Quill's origins are a bit mysterious.  Our best guess it that he was a Siberian Forest Cat.  Tipping the scales at 16 pounds (he was once 18 pounds!),  he lived to the ripe old age of 15 years.  In fact, he may have been 16 years old.  We are not sure as Natalie acquired him from her piano teacher when he was five....or six....years old. We can't be sure.

We can be sure he was simply an extraordinary cat.  I know, I know, I know...everybody wants to say that their pet was the best one, but they're all lying. Quill was the best.  Anybody who met him was immediately captivated by his girth and his personality - both quite large.  Calm, affectionate, and simply awesome, he really was the best cat anybody could ask for.  That's a fact.  Snuggles were constant, his quirks were numerous, affection was a given, and his purrs were like gold.

Interestingly, he was not in perfect health.  About eight years ago, he was diagnosed as  a diabetic.  Now, I know some folks would have put him down right then and there thinking that diabetes in cats is somehow a horrible thing.


Like diabetes in people, it is a very treatable condition.  A good diet and a simple regimen of insulin is all it takes.  

Well, not too long ago, he started to develop some kidney troubles. That can be addressed with diet, as well.  So we did it. Easy.  

All in all, I would argue that we took care of Quill better than most people take care of themselves.  

Sadly, despite our best efforts as cat parents, something diabolical was brewing in his noggin. This past Monday, two separate veterinarians diagnosed him with some sort of brain issue.  Tumor?  Lesion?  We'll never know.  The neurological impact was pronounced and frustratingly quick. His decline was over just a few days.  Further, something had changed in his body preventing his system from maintaining safe blood sugar levels. Despite the constant influxes of sugar, the levels stayed dangerously low.   

By Monday afternoon, arrangements had been made.  Quill was euthanized here in our home on Monday afternoon.  Natalie was holding him and I was holding her.  Needless to say, the whole situation was awful, but at the same time, it was comforting as we know Quill was no longer suffering from his brain condition.  

In fact, I would argue his last moments with us were, in an odd sort of way, grand.  

As a diabetic, high blood sugars would be a problem.  Sugary treats for him were out of the question.  Before I passed him to Natalie for the last time, he was literally swaddled like an infant and I held him like one.  The way he licked honey from my fingers is a memory this sappy cat-dad will have forever. The way he used his paw to pull my fingers closer  when I had shredded cheese bits made everybody present chuckle. His one last round of obnoxiously loud purring was wonderful because we knew he was comfortable.  

Popular culture now has a story regarding a rainbow bridge.  I honestly had never heard of it until friends expressed their condolences to us.   The general angle of the story is this: when pets die, they cross a rainbow bridge where they frolic and enjoy themselves in grassy fields on sunny days.  Upon the death of their owner, they meet again and continue on as companions it should be....

I'm sorry, but I have a problem with that story.

Rainbows are simply white light separated by a prism into its individual colors.  

You can't walk on a rainbow.  

But what if the bridge was made of cheese. Not just any cheese - sharp cheddar.  Natalie and I never had to sweep the cheese off the floor after a cooking session as Quill was always on the prowl.  

And what if, for a decorative flair inspired by the work of masons, his little treats were placed on the cheese bridge in a pattern called a Flemish bond.  Oh, and they're not just stuck there. They are mortared in place with his wet food.  Oh, and the wet food is something super-yummy and not his kidney-healthy wet food. After all, in Quill's new place, his kidneys and pancreas are perfectly healthy.  

Of course, if you have a bridge, there is often a body of water below it. A river or a stream.  For Quill, it's a river of milk.  But, not just  any milk.  It's the milk that's left over in the cereal bowl. You know, the super sweet stuff.

I have trouble, too, buying into the grassy fields thing.  During his supervised short forays outside (he was an indoor cat) he always tried to eat the stuff but never seemed to figure out that it made him puke.  Natalie and I had to watch that he never chowed on it.  

Hmmmm...what would be more to his liking?

Concrete.  No, seriously.  Concrete.  One of his favorite things to do on a nice sunny day was to lay on the warm concrete of the front walk.  Without a care in the world and his eyes squinted in the bright sunshine, he seemed like he could lay there for hours.  

And what might we find in the middle of Quills' concrete?  A couch. You saw that coming, right?  Specifically, a brown woven love seat, just like the one Natalie and I have in our family room.  It was certainly one of his favorite spots for his naps.  Not normally the frolicker, I suspect he would just chill for hours on his couch.

If he is really cool about it (and he would be because he was that kind of cat), he would lie in the middle of the love seat. That way, Natalie could sit to his right and I to his it always was when we watched re-runs of the Big Bang Theory after dinner. 

I say "we", by the way, because it was the three of us together. Natalie, myself and Quill. Three peas in a pod. 

Thanks Quill.  You were the best cat.  If you find any grass growing in the cracks between the concrete, please don't eat it.  

(Special thanks go to Nat's mom for being a great part of Quill's time on Grosse Ile.  Thanks,  too, go to everybody who helped with Quill's cat sitting needs and his needs overall during the years - Nat's dad, my parents, and all the veterinarians and techs (Jess especially).  Thanks all....)


Jerry Jourdan said...

Condolences to you and Natalie, Paul! Always tough to lose a loved one. Quill sounds like a great kitty!

Paul said...

Thanks Jerry. We appreciate the kind thoughts. Quill was certainly unique. The house feels a bit empty right now...that is for sure...