This afternoon, I picked up a tiny cedar box from Inland Valley Emergency Pet Clinic. On its lid is a simple brass plate inscribed “Ru.” Inside are a handful of rose petals, and a container with the ashes of my beautiful little boy, the elder of my two cats, who left this world on Monday. It was not an easy decision to make. I spoke to three members of IVEPC’s staff and the incredible staff of the Heavenly Pet Resort kennel in Upland, and concluded that it would be too cruel to ask Ru to wait for me to get a flight back to California to be there with him. The kennel’s owner went to be with him on my behalf. I am deeply grateful to her, to Ru’s “girlfriend” on the kennel staff (Sandy, who adored Ru and he adored her back), and to the IVEPC staff, who were very understanding over a series of distressing phonecalls and eased my own suffering considerably during the awful process.
The kennel staff called Sunday night to say Ru was acting strangely, and that they were going to take him to the vet Monday morning. When Monday arrived and they called at 6am to say they weren’t going to wait for my vet to open, I braced myself for the worst. Unfortunately, it came a couple of hours later. A few weeks ago, Ru had also been acting strangely, but I’d chalked it up to the triple digit heat. Once the heat passed, everything was fine again. Ru had an aggressive form of diabetes, and various things all went wrong over last weekend. By Monday he was in critical condition, and not expected to last until morning, let alone until I could convince Southwest to get me home earlier than I expected to be. So I had to make the terrible decision, far from home, far from Zigzag, who remained in the kennel crying for his brother until I was able to get home Thursday evening. I am heartbroken. I had 14 years with Ru, and while I knew the day was coming when such a decision might have to be made, I never would have imagined it would be while I wasn’t even able to be with him when he left.
Maybe he was trying to spare me. Maybe he knew how difficult it would be for me to make that decision, how hard it was going to be to say goodbye. Maybe he wanted to be the center of attention still, like he always managed to be as the friendliest, most outgoing and loving cat I’ve had the pleasure of sharing my life with. By Monday afternoon, Ru had an entire veterinarian staff and the kennel staff in tears, along with me and many of the people I was teaching at the New Year’s retreat workshops in Chicago that day. Maybe that was his plan. Maybe it surprised him as much as it surprised me. Maybe he didn’t even realize what was going on; the vet indicated that what had gone wrong had probably caused significant brain damage. I only know that he did not suffer any longer than he already had by the time we understood what was wrong. Small comfort, but at least it wasn’t worse.
I will miss Ru terribly. We had so much fun together. He liked traveling – strange for a cat – and we went many places together. We moved three times: twice by car and once by plane. He was my companion through easy and difficult years. I wrote about him here and shared photos and videos of him in many places. Most of my friends and family met Ru at some point, and he made everyone smile. Zigzag keeps running around the house looking for him, as if we expect him to emerge from one of his many sleeping spots and look at us as if we’ve lost our minds. It will be hard not to have him sleeping on the pillow next to my head, a habit he kept from the day I brought him home (when, of course, he fit on the pillow far better than he did later in life…). It’s going to be difficult.
Ru is the first cat I have not been able to bury. It’s strange to look at the little cedar box, sitting on the edge of the shelf in the living room where he liked to climb up and sleep. I hope that wherever he is, he is in good company and has many people to play with and bring joy to, as he did for me.