Saturday, November 12, 2011
Henry - In Memoriam
When a really elderly person dies, people don't always ask the cause. "Old age" will suffice and is assumed. Everything was just worn out. Henry was 20, which is 96 in human years. I believe that "old age" was definitely a factor. He'd had a bladder stone for quite a long time - years - and we knew that at some point the stone could get lodged in the wrong place, and his time would run out. That is what happened. His age and frailty were a factor because a stone that size could have been removed (while it was still in the bladder) through surgery. A special diet might have helped also, but he was too old to endure invasive surgery, and was already on a very different diet to control something even more risky (diabetes). His quality of life has been borderline for a very long time, due mostly to severe arthritis, near-blindness and asthma. Our relationship with him for the past few years has been one of giving lots of meds and taking care of his needs. His pain was somewhat relieved by steroids, adequan and buprenorphine, but he got to where he wanted us to keep our distance for the most part. Maybe that's a pain thing, or dread, or just grumpiness. It was OK. Part of life, if you make it that far.
Note on the wink: He had a squint in that eye due to a recurring itchy irritation, but it makes a cute picture.
How we got him
For some reason a 4-month-old kitten was wandering around outside in January 1992 in Missouri. We don't know if he was put outside or just lost, but was nearly frozen when he came to my friend's door and he chose the right door. She already had 4 cats and told me if I didn't come and get him she was going to have to take his to the shelter, she also mentioned that he had claws and purred really loud. Perfect! I already had a clawed cat (Alex) and didn't want a declawed companion for him because Alex played rough. Her daughter had already named him "Phil" (I think after Phil Lesh of the Dead) but I named him after Prince Henry (aka Harry), son of Diana, and didn't learn until later that the day we picked for Henry's official birthday (Sep 15) was also Harry's birthday.
Henry was an ultra-sweet tabby who got along with other cats (and all people) but Alex was an abuser and not a little bit psycho, so Henry had to learn to deal with the hell-beast. He never once bit us (or another cat) and was very affectionate and not a bit mean. The cutest thing he would do, and he did this almost every day, was to get on the bed with us, crawl under the covers, then lay on his side facing me with his head laying on my pillow. Then he would purr big and make kneading biscuits on my face. What a sweetheart. ❤
When he was about 5, I brought him home a little black kitten buddy who we named Duncan. Henry and Duncan were inseparable for Duncan's entire 11 years of life, until he died of heart failure.
I know that Henry mourned him, and was never the same after he died (Alex and Duncan both died in 2007 just 3 months apart). I think that's when he really started to age. Frankly, I think it's when I started to age too. We still had Jax (our other stray we took in as an adult) with his health issues (we lost him last year) along with Henry's. We now find ourselves with an empty nest. It is going to be quite an adjustment, but I think it's best to leave it empty for a good long time.
We went through the house and rounded up our entire supply of cat supplies, including a tall stack of cat beds, meds, syringes, towels, fleecy blankies... all will be leaving the house for the animal shelters. There is too much need out there to even think of hanging on to any of it for "later."
Maybe possibly someday we will be able to go somewhere if we feel like it for a weekend or even longer. I think that we did a great job taking care of our furbabies throughout their lives and they were shown great love by both of us, but often I put more value on their health and needs than on my own. All things must pass.