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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Oliver's Passing

I had to put Oliver down this morning.  He got sick very suddenly and I took him to the vet yesterday.  He had sudden abdominal pain.  Didn’t eat or drink for 24 hours.  They could have kept him for a few days (but that would have stressed him out) to do diagnostics, but she was quoting thousands of dollars just to find out what was wrong, let alone treat.  If he were younger, I may have considered it.  But he was 19.  He didn't come out from under the bad for 24 hours and was whimpering even with pain medication.       I lost two friends since April.  Ted and Oliver.  He had been curling up next to my ear for the last several days, purring in my ear.  He was trying to tell me something...he had lost weight and was dehydrated.  I feel awful for not seeing it sooner.
 I’m re-posting this is his honor.

Oliver's Outing

I named Oliver, my cat, for Joe Oliver, who played short-stop for the Seattle Mariners one season.  I was told later to never name your pets after players due to the fickle factor. Better to name them for a ballpark.  I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but Safeco seemed undignified for him and every other animal on the planet, domesticated or otherwise.  I’m not even sure if Safeco is a good name for a ballpark.  At any rate, since Oliver was also a famous orphan, I figured the name suited him.  I rescued him from an animal shelter after he had been caught roaming Bell Town, a distinctly unwise part of town to roam for cat and human alike.

We fell in love instantly.  He, with his sleek gray/black tiger-like markings, loving disposition, emerald green eyes, and me, with my bowl of food.  Don’t let him fool you. In spite of his tough-guy look, he is no longer one to trip the light fantastic.  And since we now are best buddies, I would naturally know if something were wrong.  You know, little things only a mom would notice, like pee on the bathroom floor. It happens very infrequently, but since male cats can die soon after becoming ill with a urinary tract infection, I brought him in for a checkup just to be sure, and $80 later found out that he was fine. They put him back in his carrier, which was just one of those cheap cardboard jobs.  However, if put together correctly, they work just fine.  At least, it had always worked for me.

Well, it wasn’t put together correctly, which I didn’t notice until the unthinkable happen.  I walked outside, opened my car door, and bam!  He broke out of the side of the box and made a mad dash under my car.   Heart racing, I ran into the clinic yelling for help.  More concerned about me than the cat, three people immediately responded and at that point, Oliver was still within catching distance.  But not for long.

Realizing he was being chased, he darted around the corner and down (luckily) the quieter of two streets.  The main street would have killed him instantly.  He continued to foil all of us, and eventually ran into a someone’s wooded backyard which was full of all sorts of places a cat could hide in fear or have a good time, depending on the kitty’s point of view.  There was a reflecting pond, plenty of foliage, shrubbery, trees, fencing and little statuettes.  Behind their property, there were more trees, more houses with more shrubbery.  Mother nature was everywhere — paradise compared to the little apartment I live in with just a few trees to gaze at from the top of my couch.  Heck, I wanted to live there.

I figured he had found Nirvana.  I figured I would never see him again.  I figured I would throw a rock through the window of the vet clinic at 3 the next morning for not securing his carrier.  Man, I was stressing, screaming at all the people from the clinic, telling them it was their fault.  I had gone mad. 

Luckily, the people who lived in the house where Oliver ran were the nicest people on Earth.  They let me hang out at their house for many hours that evening, and 13 hours the next day.  Carol, the woman of the house, brought food and water out to me and let me join the family for dinner that first night.  She crouched behind fences and darted through the woods as if it were her own dog, Stanley, who was missing.  In fact, she kept Stanley, a bulldog, in the house the whole next day which couldn’t have been easy for Stanley. 

My spinal tumors and subsequent pain make traipsing through the woods unwise, so I spent most of the time just laying flat on a little patch of lawn, bits of kibble on my chest, calling plaintively for the elusive Oliver.    I caught a glimpse of him early the next morning and was within grabbing distance, but he would have none of it.  Later that day, he was literally eating out of my hand but was still fairly freaked and wouldn’t let me touch him.  I cried. Hard. I sobbed, screamed, cursed and generally bawled  myself to sleep that night. 

I got up at 4 a.m. the next day and a very, very dedicated friend picked me up at 4:30 to go back to the scene of the crime.  The people at the vet had recommended I come at dawn, stating with authority that he would come only to me. The night before, they suggested I leave my T-shirt (luckily, I had a sweatshirt on over it) with my scent and he would come for sure.  They pretty much kept telling me he would come.  He didn’t come. In fact, after two hours that pre-dawn day I hadn’t spotted him at all, and left for home, dejected, sad and exhausted, saying a prayer and leaving an offering of a chewed-up, soggy, cat-nip filled mouse.  Earlier, the people at the vet clinic put up signs everywhere, and brought over protective gloves for me to wear once I found him, warning me not to let Oliver see them or he’d get scared.  Hello?  Who am I, Doug Henning? 

Finally, around 5 p.m. the third day, just when I had mentally let him go, sending a prayer that he’d be safe, the vet called telling me he had been found by a neighbor.  It had been over 48 hours, and Christina, the neighbor was able to cage him.  I figured he was so exhausted, he didn’t care who caught him. I was glad I had spent so much time introducing myself to everyone in the neighborhood and basically being a pest.  EVERYONE knew who he was by the time he was caught.  He was exhausted, dehydrated, wheezing, but basically okay and I think, happy to be home.  But that’s my point of view.  Of course, by the look he was giving me, I could only assume he had thoughts of his own:

Where have you been, you idiot?  Man, there I was, minding my own business, when suddenly I was scooped up and thrown into a cardboard box posing as a cat carrier.  And all because I peed on the bathroom floor instead of my litter box.  At least it was in the bathroom  Geeze, you’d think I had threatened you with an Uzi.  But no, you totally freak out and decide I need medical attention, taking me to this stranger who stuck something up me to extract urine and test it for who knows what.  It hurt.  I only weigh 12 pounds.   I am tiny and I was scared.  I meowed really loud to let you know but you didn’t care, you just let those mean people do their thing. 

And then they didn’t even close my carrier (if you could call a cardboard box a carrier) correctly and you were too stupid and too trusting not to double check so of course, I did whatever any red-blooded kitty would do.  I bolted in fear.  I didn’t know what I was doing, I was in survival mode.  I ran and four people, one with a net, came chasing after me. What would you do if someone with a white coat and a net came chasing after you? 

I ran into all these trees behind some strangers lawn.  It was real pretty back there, but very scary.  There were crows, squirrels, strange cats and all sorts of other unknown creatures.  I ran up a tree and stayed there late into the night, until the coast was clear.  I came out and no one was around, so I skulked around looking for food and water. I was really scared, hungry and thirsty.  And you, my owner, the person who supposedly loves me, apparently went home for the night. What the heck, you could always get another cat.  Me, on the other hand, could only hope to be found by someone who would take pity on me, feed me, and with any luck, take me in. 

Incidentally, the water in that stupid reflecting pool you think is so pretty is filthy.  I would never in a zillion years drink out of it.  If I did, I’d probably get parasites.. But hey, don’t worry about me.  My toys were no where to be found, my litter box gone too.  I had to poop and pee in the great outdoors, but I was so scared, I could hardly go. I realized I  was now thoroughly domesticated.  How embarrassing.  You finally came back the next day and chased me with some other strange woman, and now I was really freaked. 

You were acting like a nut, crying and screaming, sobbing and calling my name.  I figured you had lost your mind, and was trying to decide if maybe life wouldn’t be better away from your craziness.  But, I missed my food, my clean water, my warm sleeping place and my litter box.  Still, you were freaking me out, so I hid a second day, till finally I was so tired, hungry and thirsty, I dragged my ragged and beaten body up on a nice lady’s porch and she put me in a carrier and took me back to the vet, where you finally showed up.  Geeze, what was the big deal? 

Can’t a guy go on vacation for a couple of days?  Okay, okay,  once I was home I got brave.  I never want to go through that again.  Of course, minutes after I was safe at home I cried at the screen door to go out.  I can’t help it, my brain is the size of a filbert. Humans are the ones who wanted us for household pets.  We don’t know how to survive out there anymore, and it’s your fault.  Now I still can’t pee right.  I’m afraid of my litter box.  But I figure if I act a little crazy you will worry about me, give me special treats, and I can stretch this out for a long time. You are so easy to manipulate it’s frightening.  I have always wanted to see Egypt, the birthplace of my ancestors.  Maybe I’ll go there next time.  Anyone know where I can get a cheap flight?

Stray Cat Strut


  1. Oh Sherri, I wish I would have checked your blog earlier than today. I am deeply, deeply sorry about your sweet Oliver. I know that he was your 'boy', your sweet boy. I cannot know the depth of your feelings for him, but I pray for you my friend, and for Oliver. There is a special place in Heaven for well loved animals, it says so in the bible, and no doubt that Oliver will be there, waiting to cuddle next to you again. All my love to you Sherri.


  2. I'm an old friend of Becky Vacanti's. Our pet friends really are family and I send you sympathy and love in the loss of your dear Oliver. Like good people, they make our journey sweeter and I like to think we do the same for them. He was a lucky cat to be so loved. Sending you love and prayers today, one stranger to another.


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