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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I used to have two cats. Now, I have one. It's been almost two years, but Flicka was my heart cat, and on a hard day like today he's who I wish for desperately.

It's been almost two years since I lost Flicka; it'll be two years in mid-November. I had him for just 11 months when he died and the most tragic part is that him making it that long was considered a pretty wild success. He was supposed to die after about six months, you see.

Everyone who's had a terminally ill pet knows this feeling, and those of us who are so taken by an animal that the looming sentence can't outweight the prospect of having that animal in your life for just a little bit...well, those who've done it know how it feels. We're part of a strange club. I tell people it's my own d*** fault for getting involved with Flicka, but I couldn't help it. We knew he was bad. The good people at the shelter where I volunteered had some very serious talks with me and didn't pull any punches. He was dying. He was dying soon. He could die in my arms as we walked out. He could die for no reason whatsoever except his serious heart defect, with no warning at all, and probably would. A vet later gently said 6 months was a complete guess but more than a year or *maybe* two would be a miracle. When I held him in my arms after 11 months and asked the vet to euthanize him, I was strangely peaceful.

I know I didn't "kill" him the way one thinks when they hear that, but I did, and I'm so glad. My greatest regret is not doing it a few hours earlier. Flicka suffered for my fear, but I looked the vet in the eye and calmly said, "I think-- no. I would like to euthanize Flicka." We had concluded a physical exam (at my request), a detailed review of his history, any options and what the best case from each was, and the best case for an extremely unlikely longshot that had a next to nothing chance of even addressing the problem had a prognosis of the barely-there peeing himself existence of two days prior. Since he was going and had plenty of happy moments but fairly few aware moments, I tried to let him die peacefully and with as little pain as possible (meds to address symptoms and fluid in his lungs and such, blankets warmed in the building's dryer every few hours that he loved to cuddle in, me holding him when he was too shaky to get on his perch but enjoyed watching the birds out the window, etc). But it wasn't a real life for the long term, and he was so clearly dying. And when it was so bad and the most likely outcome was that he would die, alone, a few hours later, in the oxygen-enriched environment, I knew. I felt so calm and peaceful when I told the vet my choice, and I think the vet tech who'd been with us through a remarkable number of visits and was on shift that night and had picked up the phone when I called ahead and made sure she was there to greet us-- I think Jess was relieved not to see him left to suffer, and I saw her wiping away tears in the hallway when she let the vet in. She doesn't know I saw, but I knew he was cared for deeply and let her take him back to put in the line for the medication because it was her and she would ask people to hold off on vacuums during his exams, be patient and kind and gentle and thorough, and cared deeply for him. She must have suffered from so much compassion fatigue, but knowing how she cared for him has helped.

Flicka's the once in a lifetime cat for me. I adore Tikvah, the first and now only cat in my life, but there was something about Flicka. He was wild and loyal and we needed each other. If I called his name softly, he came running over. He would come purr and rub on my face when I was sad, and insist on being with me if I was crying or about to, and every step with him was a gift and a task of patience and mutual understanding.

He was a little terror, too. He opened cabinets. He opened doors. He opened a cabinet above the sink, climbed in, grabbed a bag of cat food that weighed more than him, and leapt down from the high cabinet with it in his jaws and was dragging it down the hallway a few seconds later when I got there. Three child locks later, food was safe from him.

He opened doors to get to me or the other cat. Giving them separate spaces to adjust? Nope. Flicka had other ideas, and I tried everything. I put doorstops under the door from the outside, came in another door, and put a futon against the one I'd come in. When I was mostly asleep, I heard him and opened my eyes to observe how he did it. A flick of a claw had the doorstop dislodges and away enough for a slender cat to be free of; a few whacks of a paw and the door opened. I remember his first morning home, waking up and smiling so happily. My two cats! I got Flicka, it was true, there he was! And then I sat bolt upright, because I'd left him in his own room to adjust (doing everything by the book), with the door closed. And it was not the room he was in now. I gave up soon, and he and my cat were rubbing cheeks and sharing a window perch within two weeks.

He was a wild child. He refused his meds, and I'd list my attempts and have experienced vets give me sheepish looks and tell me I was doing the best anyone could. He got sent home from an ER visit without his meds (he was due for a dose, needing them every 12 hours fairly strictly, during his visit) because the techs couldn't win the fight I did for 11 months twice a day. On the rare times I failed completely, I would remember that and realize he was a little devil. I loved that about him, though, and always left a tube of Neosporin and a box of bandaids out for his catsitters with a little bow on top. I often came back to open boxes, but he had one catsitter he not only loved but trusted and respected who was gentle but no-nonsense about his medication and loved him as I did for his regal personality and silly friendly love to his chosen few.

If I close my eyes I can still feel him. I lie down and lift the covers and he walks up, breaths softlyon my face so close paper would be too thick for the gap, sometimes nuzzles me. He's on my left side, between my body and the wall, and he purrs so softly. He smells like sweet hay, Flicka, and he's a creature of habit. He snuggles in his special bedtime way by pusheing into my arm, feeling every bit as he stretches along my side, soft purrs until he starts snuffling in his sleep. Covers must be over cat, of course. I can almost feel it. It's been so long.

He was an adventurer. He was a goofball, full of life and energy even as he faded. He was all muscle and length, huge but thin and tall, and one of the strongest cats I've ever seen or met. He was gentle and had incredible levels of control, but there was knowledge that if he wanted to damage, truly wanted to, he would. Even when I got scratches in the early medication negotiations, they were attempts to get me to stop the awful tasting invaders. I never felt his full strenghth and I knew it even before the last day, when his mind was gone, and in a painfully weakened state he gave me by far the worst wound he ever did. If I hadn't known how much he held back when he was stronger but aware, I did when his weak, halfhearted swipe of confused fear and pain came. For all who said he was aggressive, I told them how careful he was. How he'd put soft paws on me as a "NO" and stare at me for 1.5 to 2 seconds, claws sheathed and velvety soft paws, and then remove it...but if someone didn't listen to my instructions on what his meant or couldn't read him, if they scared him and didn't let him get away, the next step was claws.

He was jealous of my dad, my best friend, we think. He was comfortable with him, even barely objecting to him medicating more than me or my friend and catsitter, but he disliked him. Trusted and respected him, but like to mess with him. He'd trot to my dad and ask for pats. My dad, knowing better, would slowly put a hand for Flicka to sniff and decide on, and Flicka would ask again, and when my dad obliged, he'd get a scratch-- and Flicka would trot to me with his tail up and shove his head in my hand for exactly the same pats, purring loudly. It was quite something.

I know this is a small novel, but it's just the tip of what I need to say about Flicka. He was my heart cat. I was 21 when I adopted him. I was 22 when he died. I think the shelter thought pretty long and hard before giving such a complicated, delicate cat to a 21-year-old, but I was a volunteer and they knew me, we discussed it thoroughly and my parents gave their eager confirmation that they'd offered to assist with his bills ($500 per echocardiogram, roughly, plus frequent specialty care and emergency visits, was out of my budget and he became my Hanukkah gift and birthday gift at my request; they don't know that I know they then donated to the shelter to try to make up some of wht had been spent on my beloved companion).

At the shelter, Flicka was a favorite. Mostly. One medical staff was talking about him with relief that someone adopted him and I piped up, laughing, that it was me. She turned bright red but we become friends. A few volunteers who didn't read his body language well found him intimidating. Many more found him inscrutable. It just took patience. Many absolutely adored him, some from a decent distance even, and showered him with toys and gifts and pinned pictures of him in his new home on the fridge in the break room. Everyone knew Flicka, and would often be talking about him when he was adopted wondering how it went. I loved when that happened, as few knew he was mine, and got to show off pictures and stories of his antics.

This is already far too long, but I needed to share today as some things happen in life and all I know is that who I want now is Flicka more than ny other creature, any species, and he's gone.

I know myself; I may post on this again as the anniversary approaches. I apologize. But it helps to talk.

Here's something I wrote about him and Tikvah (alive and well and amazing and shaped so beautifully by her beloved big brother during his brief life) around December 29, 2016. The shelter director emailed me and asked if she could hold it and publish it for the new year, and I agreed.

https://www.northeastanimalshelter.org/2017/01/tikvah-flicka-gave-hope-chance/

They chose the title (I called it My Friend Flicka/Tikvah Means Hope, the titles of the books their names each came from, but it doesn't matter) and they unfortunately used lousy pictures from them at the shelter, but they kept my text. I should clarify afterreading it now that Flicka's hospital visit mentioned had nothing to do with his meds, but rather a serious-looking set of symptoms that could've signalled the end of his life (and turned out to be nothing serious but a minor bug and adjustment period for him combining to look very bad). He needed his regular meds while there, though, just by timing, and they couldn't handle it.


For a pretty disturbing and personal look at how this used to impact me, Flicka's death, and a pretty gruesome description of his last day, here's my blog.

https://operationsuperstorm.blog/2018/06/01/a-life-in-nightmares/


Flicka died in November of 2017. He was estimated to be approximately 5 years old at the time. His life was saved by a kind woman in Lynn, MA who saw a beautiful and horribly thin cat wary but social, fed him, built trust, and brought him to a no-kill shelter. She probably doesn't know that she saved his life more than most rescues; Flicka's congenital heart problem would've killed him faster but much, much more painfully without the treatment he was able to recieve when he was taken off the streets and into the shelter.

Flicka changed my life. Flicka changed me. Flicka, I miss you.
 

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A wonderful eulogy to an exceptional cat. I hope remembering his hard-won trust and love helps you through these difficult days.
 

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What a great tribute to Flicka. He sounds like such an amazing for a cat.. I too had a heart cat, my dear Pin. It is so hard to lose them. Hope your great love shine through and helps you to find peace. Goodbye Flicka. ((HUGS))
 

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At least one of his nine lives, is owed to you and it was the best one. Heartfelt condolences on your loss.
 
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