Olly never liked people very much. He was rescued at ~9 months old wandering around the streets in my hometown. Because of this, and perhaps his past, he had an aversion to lots of commotion, people he didn't know, or unexpected noise. But between all of that, he came to trust me, and placed his faith in me—his twelve year old owner. He grew up with me, as I went through high school, then university, a few jobs, and more.
My furry companion, who at night would sleep on my bed, curled up, paws covering his eyes (but only after licking my hand with his raspy tongue for minutes on end) and during the day would wander outside—safety assured, away from any main roads, with lots of high grass to wander through—or lounge under the sun in the front yard.
He always had to be the boss—have things his way. A large, well-built 6.5kg ginger-tabby who was neutered much later than you'd normally neuter a kitten. This bossiness extended to the neighbourhood competition. He didn't like other cats much, either. This would lead to an occasional, emotionally painful (for both of us) trip to the vets to treat a scratch, or bite. A 20 minute drive in a cat box, as he meowed and sobbed his head off—telling us in no uncertain terms, "let me out!".
And do you think he'd ever let you pick him up? Not a chance. Everything has to be on his terms! But in between his assertiveness, he shared his love for me, bumping his head into mine, gently touching my face with his paw on occasion, being a part of my life as I was a part of his.
Unfortunately, none of us can escape the forever ticking of time. 13 good years pass. For the past week though, he started becoming more introverted, would sleep more—and eat less. Taking this kind of cat to the vet is a judgement call that you don't make lightly. Do you cause stress and anxiety, making him trust you less for weeks on end, make him spend more time outside, away from your watchful eye? Or do you visit the vet less frequently, but still proactively, if you know something is definitely wrong?
I made the latter decision last night, taking him to afterhours. The triage indicated a heart murmur, and a blood panel indicated parameters that might be indicative of mild renal dysfunction—to be followed up at the proper vet tomorrow. So he was sent home, with some precautionary injections, and an appetite and hydration boost.
Sadly, I never got that opportunity to take him for a follow up. He slept with me that night, but his condition deteriorated rapidly this morning. I rushed him to the proper vet, watching him helplessly tremble and vocalise his scaredness. I can't help but cry as I type this. The staff told me it was time. I knew it, and in some ways, I think he did too. I'm glad I got to give him the opportunity to fade away peacefully.
I don't have many frames of reference to compare this part of my life to, but it seems to me this is the most pain I've ever felt over a single event. You might be able to get another cat, but you definitely can't get another Olly. A part of my heart is forever gone. I'm a believer that the pain doesn't really go away, you probably just learn to cope with it more, to focus on the years of good, and not the hours of bad. I really hope I can do that, because he was my best friend.
I love you, buddy. I hope you're at rest now, and I'll miss you always. 🧡