I realised the other day that I may have found animals that I have owned after they have passed, but I have never sat with an animal as it dies. It seems reductive to even generalise, because my cat Gandalf and I had a relationship that felt like a soul connection. Cat’s aren’t big on making eye contact, but he was.
If it’s any indication of how much I loved my cat, I started this in March and had to lay it down because the wound was too fresh. I sat with him all through the two days during which his kidney failure decided to unwind him from the mortal coil. It started really to become obvious the night before. We hadn’t been having him or any of the other cats sleep with us for a long time, but something about the way he had been that day, very wobbly and trying to hide told me we should be with him. He slept between me and my wife that night and he purred the whole time. I know because I didn’t sleep much.
I found this in my drafts and wanted to finish it because he deserves it. Every time I think about him a sadness envelopes me, and not long after I am comforted by the thought that he left knowing we loved him.
I carried him back and forth to the toilet all day, tried to feed him when he asked for it. Towards the end he he needed to void his bowels, but he was proud cat and cried to be taken to the litter box, and you could tell it was painful. He cried out a few times more in the hour that followed and then one last cry that communicated that he needed to go and it was too painful to stay, and I understood it all. After that cry he got very quiet and he stared at me with those big blue eyes, there were some shallow breaths, and then he was gone.
We sat with him for a little bit and then we called the vet because we didn’t want to have to keep his body with us for the whole weekend. They stayed open for a little longer to accommodate us. We said our goodbyes and we left his body there.
I don’t care what anyone else believes — he stayed with us for a while, and I notice him around sometimes. He was Flame Point Siamese with bright blue eyes and he was beautiful. I named him Gandalf for Gandalf The White and also because Gandalf was also the secret keeper of the flame. We still have his ashes, and my plan, when we buy our house is to have some kind sign that welcome people to our house that says “Speak friend and enter,” as Gandalf did in the book, and have his ashes encapsulated in that sign. He will always be a part of our family — he was the first pet me and my wife got together, and he was my beautiful baby and we didn’t have long enough with him.