December 18, 2015
Yesterday, our cat, Walter, died. He only “lived” with us for four hours. If I believed in fate, fate brought him to us. I had a meeting near the airport and not wanting to go alone, Jennifer, my wife, came with me. Afterward, we were talking about something, which caused me to miss the freeway entrance. The GPS recalculated and told me to go left, Jennifer told me to turn right and, torn between two voices pulling me in different directions, I froze and continued to go straight.
After a few blocks, I saw an animal cross the road. I couldn’t tell if it was a dog or cat, so we turned in his direction and sure enough, he was a small dog out walking about. With our spare leash for just these kinds of circumstances, we tried to get him, but he darted off and we followed at a safe distance for several blocks to make sure we didn’t scare him into traffic. I asked someone working on his car if he knew the dog and he did: he lived around the corner. The best we could do was “encourage” him to go back in his yard and then, as we started off again in the other direction, I turned to Jennifer to say something and that’s when I saw him in the gutter to our right. Dead. Or so we thought given that the black cat was upside down, paws in the air with what looked like rigor mortis. I asked Jennifer to check on him, “just in case.” When she went outside to look at him, he turned his head slightly and looked up at her. The silent meow.
Jennifer scooped him up with my jacket and off we went to an emergency vet. He smelled of old urine and fecal matter. How long had he been there? Several hundred dollars on a credit card later, Walter, an unneutered Tom of about three years old, was getting the care he needed, with oxygen, fluids, pain meds, antibiotics, x-rays, and more. Walter’s prognosis was guarded at best, a burst abscess that had spread to his spine and paralyzed him. But he was feisty, hissing (feral!), and young. He also had one of those beautiful perfectly round tennis ball heads that always kill me.
With Walter resting quietly under sedation at the hospital, we went home to prepare for the newest Winograd, made him a bed, and gave him a name. The call came four hours later. Walter had slipped into unconsciousness and with death imminent; he was relieved of his suffering. In rescue, sometimes there isn’t a happy ending.
It rained last night. The thought of him unable to move, upside down in the gutter getting wet was too much to bear. We didn’t even get to know him and we cried at the loss.
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