Clinton, my loyal companion, has crossed the rainbow bridge.
In my previous blog post, I wrote about Clinton’s health problems and how my friend, Jill Delbridge, helped me raise money to absorb the high medical costs. I was grateful for the response, as there were $760 in donations to the GoFundMe fund, which covered almost 90% of the total costs of consultations, tests, and medication. On December 5, 2022, I had to rush him back to the vet after informing them that Clinton had not had a bowel movement for over ten days.
Another vet attended to Clinton. During his exam, he felt a lump on his abdomen, and his gums were bluish-purple. This was a sign that he was not getting enough oxygen. Since his health had not improved since he was given antibiotics, all signs pointed to my fur buddy having cancer.
I was presented with a few options to treat him. However, they were all pricey. The veterinarian also said that even if I had the money and threw the entire pharmacy at him, there wasn’t any guarantee that Clinton would recover. I had a long talk with my brother and his spouse—who both experienced this situation with their pets. If I brought my furry friend home, his breathing problem would worsen, and he would suffer an agonizing death. Furthermore, if I were to witness this, it may traumatize me for years. Therefore, I made the painful decision of putting Clinton down.
Raising Clinton from Kittenhood
This was the most emotional moment I’ve had in several years, as I had never had to make such an important decision. For the next several minutes, I spoke to him and even sang. I reminisced back to the day when we first met while I was working for a former employer. My colleague brought him and his sister while they were both around four weeks old. Their mother had a litter, and my colleague wanted to give the kittens away to the SPCA. Clinton was white with a grey stripe on his head, while his sister was charcoal grey.
For several minutes and for reasons I cannot explain, Clinton followed me everywhere. I thought it was unusual for him to pay more attention to me than my colleague. When I sat at my desk, Clinton rested his head on my shoe and slept. I previously thought of adopting a furry friend since I lived by myself. I never acted on it because I felt that I was not ready. I asked my colleague if I could babysit Clinton for a week and then decide whether he was a proper fit. My colleague was more than happy to give him to me.
At home, I played with Clinton all afternoon and into the evening. He was such a little snowball that I took extra care to ensure he did not injure himself. I fed and introduced him to the litter box I purchased on the way home. So far, I was getting attached to him, and he didn’t cause any trouble. He even took an interest in books. Perhaps it’s the smell of the pages, but he would use them as a pillow in the end.
Later that evening, he fell asleep on my couch, nestled between it and a cushion. I soon went to bed afterwards and slept throughout the night uninterrupted. The following day, I woke up to a strange sensation as I felt something touching my side. I looked to see what it was, only to see Clinton snuggled next to me. As I’ve often been told, cats choose their human companions. The fact that he tracked me down to my bedroom and joined me demonstrated that Clinton had chosen me. My decision to adopt him was made at that moment.
Clinton didn’t take too long to adapt to his new home. I bought him a small cat bed that he enjoyed using. However, he outgrew it in a few months and slept everywhere he chose. His favourite spots were my bed and the futon in a separate bedroom. He often wanted to sleep with me at night, but I didn’t allow it because I feared I might roll over and crush him.
Clinton always tried to steal food from my plate for the next several months. One evening, he successfully robbed me of a french fry when I wasn’t looking. I noticed him chewing on something I knew could not be the hamburger. It did not take long for him to fall asleep. He gave me a good scare because I thought he had poisoned himself. I was relieved to see that he was breathing.
I learned quickly how cats are territorial, as Clinton was an adamant defender of the back porch. He was not afraid to chase away the neighbour’s dog, who would often venture onto my side. In the end, the dogs were fearful of Clinton.
Clinton was loved by everyone who had the chance to meet him whenever they visited, and he was popular on social media. I must admit that Clinton was more popular than I was. Photos and videos with my furry friend always received more likes and views than photos and videos of me alone.
Clinton did not have any health issues for 99% of his life. He became a bit overweight because he overate. The thought of him developing diabetes and having to be administered insulin regularly frightened me. I followed the vet’s advice to change his cat food to a specialized satiety diet. I also made him work out by making him run up the stairs. In addition, I purchased a plastic ball that dispensed his food whenever he kicked it. This allowed Clinton to work for his food. The combination worked as he began to lose weight. The vet was even impressed.
There was a time that Clinton was briefly friends with the neighbour’s cat. Unfortunately, he died from a hit-and-run one evening. Often I would see cats wandering the streets. But, given the risks of them being attacked by other wild animals or deranged people, I never allowed Clinton to go out. The furthest I’d let him go was in the backyard and under my constant supervision.
I was concerned about leaving Clinton whenever I left my home for a few hours or days. I often left the window open in the summer. He enjoyed climbing the windowsill to catch the breeze through the screen. Very often, even in the winter, he’d sit by the window from the second floor where I live. When I’d come home, he’d watch me the moment I parked my car. I figured he had learned to recognize the sound of my vehicle, so he knew when I was home.
My favourite moments were when Clinton joined me as I worked. He often loved to rest his head on the side of the keyboard as I typed. It was annoying, as I always had to move him to the side because he often messed up whatever I wrote. Honestly, he would be doing so right now if he were still around. My furry friend was always curious to see what I worked on and joined me while I wrote my books.
I raffled off a free ebook copy when I published my first three novels. I’d write every entry on a small piece of paper and throw them in a bowl. I would then grab a few and toss them in the air. Whichever one Clinton caught first was the winner. I’d repeat the process until Clinton had picked out the winners. As I write this, I’m saddened that he won’t be around to choose the winners of any future book giveaway.
Clinton didn’t only sit with me while I worked, but he also sat next to me whenever I exercised at home. It was as though he was curious to know what I was up to. At times he did the same while I watched TV. However, the most touching moments were when he would lie beside me in bed or on the couch whenever I was ill. These moments demonstrated how much love Clinton had for me.
A True Companion
Last year, the vet told me she noticed Clinton had a heart murmur. However, she told me not to worry too much. My furry friend was still energetic and behaved similarly, so I did not bother. At the same time, I was recommended to get his teeth cleaned, or he might develop a toothache. I couldn’t afford it, so I let it slide. This year in April 2022, I noticed my furry friend left a lot of crumbs on the floor, which he never did before. I figured it hurt to chew, so I took him to the vet to clean his teeth.
The vet told me he would need a tooth extraction because I waited too long to get them cleaned. I agreed to pay extra because I cared about Clinton’s health. A few hours later, the vet called to inform me that extractions were not necessary, which was a relief. The vet also changed his cat food.
Clinton did not enjoy the new cat food. After a few weeks, I switched him back to what he was used to after informing the vet. He began eating again, but I noticed he did not empty his food ball as quickly as he used to. A few months later, I noticed that he became less interested in the food ball and preferred to eat from my hand. I figured it was a phase, and he’d eat from his food ball again. Clinton was, however, still interested in what I was eating. He often guilted me into sharing my food by staring at me with the Puss-In-Boots stare. I would give in at times, but only within reason.
Months passed, and I realized he was not consuming as much food as he once did. By mid-November 2022, Clinton had stopped eating. Food remained in his ball for a few days, and he’d spend a lot of time lying on the floor with his head inches from the radiator. He wasn’t even scratching his favourite box. This was unusual behaviour for him. He would eat from my hand, but very little. I also noticed that he was breathing louder than he usually did. On November 26, 2022, I took him to the vet, where I learned about the fluid build-up around his left lung and that he may have cancer.
As I often did, I took a selfie with Clinton and me while at the vet. I included a short post on Clinton’s health. One of my Facebook friends from over twelve years saw the post and started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Clinton. I was both surprised and grateful for the response. Many donations came from people I didn’t know. I was touched and appreciated the generosity of people who wanted the best for Clinton.
Since I could not afford to bring my furry friend to the emergency animal clinic, the veterinarian recommended antibiotic treatment. The fluid accumulation would be due to an infection if it weren’t cancer. She also fed Clinton an appetite stimulator. I got a boost of hope when he ate for the first time in several days. He continued eating each day which made me happier. His energy was increasing, and he appeared to be on the road to recovery.
Just as I thought Clinton was recovering from whatever ailment he had, his appetite decreased daily. Eventually, he stopped eating. He went back to spending afternoons lying on the floor, facing the radiator. One evening, I saw him walk to the couch, where he sat looking up. I walked to him and lifted him on it. I brought a towel so he could use it as a blanket, then sat beside him. In less than a minute, he fell asleep.
On December 5, 2022, I brought Clinton to the vet because his health did not improve. As I mentioned earlier, after examining him, he concluded that his symptoms were most likely cancer-related. He discussed various treatment options but said they were not guaranteed to work. But he also told me that I had to face the reality that Clinton would never recover from his symptoms and that I had to put him down.
He left me alone to consider my options. I called my brother and had a long talk with him and his spouse because they’ve been in similar situations with their pets. What I retained the most from what my brother told me is that if I were to bring Clinton home, I might witness him suffer an agonizing death. If that were to occur, I would be traumatized for months and may feel guilty for putting my furry friend through such a horrible experience.
When I finished speaking to them, I hugged Clinton, then called back the veterinarian and told him that I had decided to put my loyal companion to sleep. I was upset because I did everything possible to help him get well. Before I spoke to my brother, I was ready to spend money that I did not have on one of the treatment plans offered. I just had to accept that modern medicine would not help Clinton and that it was time to let him go.
A few minutes after the veterinarian left, the assistant returned with a document for me to sign. She left me alone with Clinton for a few minutes, then returned with a sedative. While she administered it, I spoke to Clinton, telling him everything would be all right. When the assistant left, I sang to comfort him. The sedative was supposed to take effect in five minutes, but when the veterinarian returned, he was still alert. So, Clinton was given a second dose.
I looked him in the eyes and continued to sing softly as he drifted off to sleep. I noticed his right blue eye was glistening.
It was a tear.
It was as though Clinton sensed the pain and sadness in my voice as I serenaded him. I’ve experienced him comforting me when I was sad or ill. However, as Clinton watched me as he dozed off, I felt he was crying because he knew that it was the end and that we would never see each other again.
The assistant returned, saw that Clinton was asleep—even though his eyes were partially open, and administered the final injection. I stroked his head gently and sang to him until his heart stopped.
I went home without Clinton, and it was devastating coming home to an empty house. As I entered, I expected to hear the jiggling bells of his collar because he liked to greet me. It was silent. I looked around the living room. Clinton’s towel was still on the sofa. There was food in his tray, and his water fountain still flowed.
The grief period wasn’t easy. I sent text messages to my brother, his spouse, and a few of my closest friends to inform them that Clinton had crossed the rainbow bridge. I was in so much grief that I did not eat anything for the rest of the evening. My previous meal was a small brunch almost three hours before. I spent the next four hours producing a tribute video for Clinton, which I then shared.
Looking back at every photo I took of Clinton brought me to tears. When I turned on the light in my bedroom later that night, I looked at the bed out of habit as I expected to see Clinton looking back at me. Even though I went to bed late, I woke up a few times as I expected to hear him banging on my door around 5 AM. He’s used to me getting up at that hour to get ready to go to the gym. He was my alarm clock.
As I write this, I’m still grieving. I had to pause four times to cry and couldn’t stop since he had left this world. That’s how special Clinton was to me. Whenever you hear someone dismiss a cat lover, saying, “He’s just a cat.” Please let them know that those comments are abusive. Looking back at the last twelve years, I think of how Clinton chose me. Perhaps he sensed something that made him believe I would give him the love and care he desired.
My brother, his spouse, and closest friends told me that had Clinton not come home with me that day we met in the office, who knows where he would’ve gone or if he would’ve been given the same quality of life that I gave him. The only thing that stopped Clinton was cancer. Although it’s upsetting that I was helpless, some events in life are simply out of our control.
I don’t know how long it will take to get over Clinton’s passing. It may be days, weeks, or even a few months. My house feels empty without my furry friend, and it will take a while for me to get used to that. My home was also his. A friend wanted to take me to the SPCA to get another cat to fill the void. The truth is I’m not ready because I feel that I’d be replacing Clinton. The best thing I can do before moving on is to grieve until this phase passes.
Who knows. Perhaps soon, I’ll bump into another kitten who’ll attach itself to me. When that happens, maybe I’ll be ready to bring them home and give them the life I gave Clinton.