I put an ETA on the previous post, but I wanted to talk about it a little more. We had to have Harry put to sleep. The bad spot we thought was a tooth abscess was actually a tumor. He must have had it for a while, as it had gone up all through his jaw, though he didn't show any sign of it. He ate yesterday, and was bugging me to feed him this morning before I took him to the vet. It was pretty impossible to remove, and the kidney disease, arthritis, his age (19 years and ten months) made all the other options more cruel than anything else.
I'd been prepared for this for a while, since he started the kidney failure last year. I was afraid we would have to put him to sleep, since he was an incredibly physically tough cat, and would not go down easy. Before the kidney problem and the arthritis, he had never been sick.
Before he lost weight this past year, he was twenty pounds of solid muscle, and once opened a feral cat carrier at the vet's office. (It was a substitute vet who couldn't handle him.) He loved me, but I still had to wear a leather jacket and fencing gloves to get him into his carrier. He wasn't so gentle with people he didn't love. He hated his vet and everyone who worked there, despite having known them since he was a kitten. He was very strong, unbelievably fast. We used to joke that he was a Bengal in a tuxedo cat's body, but because of his body type and behavior, I do think there was something-not-domesticated in his genetics. He's sent experienced vet assistants running out of the room in tears. His favorite trick was to face away from them and then turn like lightning. Once when he was being boarded, he knew one of the youngest assistants was terrified of him. He pretended to ignore her, until she started to set a bowl of food in his cage. Then he whipped around and slapped the bowl, scattering the food across the room.
In our old apartment, he used to run down the hall, jump up to the top of the bedroom door, hang upside down by all fours from the doorframe and hiss at us. He used to walk around the house at night and howl like a banshee. We had to warn people who stayed the night with us that the house was not haunted and nobody was being murdered in the living room, it was just the cat.
I found him when he was an abandoned kitten, stuck in a tree in a rare December icestorm. I pulled a muscle climbing the tree to get him. For nineteen years and ten months, every night I was home, he slept on me.
All our other animals loved him (possibly this was the animal version of Stockholm Syndrome). He never injured our other cats, though he clearly wanted to at times. When Tasha was a kitten, he scared the crap out of me by picking her up by the neck and throwing her down on the bed, but apparently he was just making a point. Spike, our dog who died of cancer in 2008, thought Harry was his friend and licked him in the face occasionally, even though Harry sometimes chased Spike around the house. (I think Spike thought they were playing.) I knew it wouldn't be long now, but I didn't expect it to be today.
That was Harry.