Our old man cat Zip was put to sleep today. Dude was like... 18 or 19. I mean, that's a guess. He was a stray that my brother's friend's parents picked up wandering around and we took him in. He was either adolescent or a young adult when we got him, but it was hard to tell because he was a skinny little bugger back then. But I mean, my brother was 3 or 4 when we got him. That brother turned 21 in November.
And he was a skittish little bastard. Prickly. We had big dog in the house at the time who was really gentle and patient and taught him how to live with people, which made him an unusual cat. I think out of all of us, she was really his first family, which made it hard when she died of complications with her pancreas. I remember him taking over her responsibilities and habits for a long, long time after she'd died.
He and I got real close after I graduated from college and moved back home. He couldn't quite figure out everyone else's schedule because school has weird gaps that made him wary of sudden times when the house was full again. A lot of the past couple of years has been punctuated by Zip and me time. He would wait for me to come home everyday and was pissed if I came home later than 5:15. He would wake me up in the mornings if it looked like I wasn't going to get up for my alarm. Last time I was sick and had to miss work, he woke up my mom at five in the morning and herded her around until she brought me a cup of tea. And he stayed with me the whole day, even when I was in the bathroom unable to keep plain toast down.
Zip started getting sick a couple of years ago and he was diagnosed with an overactive thyroid. He went from 15 pounds to 9 pounds in three months. He started gaining weight again until this past year, but he stayed steady until after Christmas. He got really sick around New Year's which was hard. We were really afraid he wasn't going to make it then, but he struggled through, but he's been off since then. There were some weeks when he wouldn't eat and he's been drinking as much water as his little body could hold, but was still showing signs of dehydration. It would start to look like he was getting back to normal and then take a sudden turn.
This past Friday, my mom took him to the vet for some routine blood-work and had them run some other tests. His eating was erratic and he was dehydrated because his kidneys had been failing. And there was nothing more to be done. He was only 6 pounds. We kept him home over the weekend so that The Gabbers could come up and see him. He was really her cat when we were kids. And this morning Mom brought him in to the vet and put him to sleep.
And I know it'll get better. It did with Lucky, who died in her sleep at home suddenly and had been with me since my earliest memories. It did with Wilton the angry hedgehog, who I was holding when he died. And it will with Zip, even if it'll hit me again come the spring when his cat gang starts hanging out in the driveway waiting for him.
So, it's been a hard day. And tomorrow's going to be a hard day. This week is going to be a really hard week.