Update: There are new pics at our Instagram page of Radish from his funeral, grave site and previously unpublished photos. Thank-you for your kind support.
After a heroic effort to recover from liver failure, Radish, the shelter cat rescued two weeks ago, died last night on his own terms. He gave no clue about his appointment with death and we’re reeling with shock. He’d been responding to treatment and eating mostly on his own. Rays of hope buoyed my spirit and tired body drained by 24/7 intensive cat care and I’ve since collapsed from the strain, but no regrets. Despite the roller coaster of ups and downs, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. I have no doubt with earlier treatment, he’d be alive today. But no amount of finger pointing will bring him back from the grave. I do wish I’d taken more photos but it felt disrespectful to invade his space. I made two lovely collages but the computer crashed before I could save them. There was no time to do more than this but there are more images on our instagram page Once I recuperate, I will share more.
I said goodnight to Radish around midnight of the 18th after giving him a daub of butter as a treat. He licked it off my finger with relish and I promised him another treat in the morning. I felt calm and relieved unlike the previous night when I couldn’t sleep and stumbled downstairs. I found him in the front hall by a statue of Bast (not far from where he died) worried whether he’d make it to the morning. I told him I would help him cross if it was time and to give me a sign if it wasn’t. I clearly said, “I don’t want come down in the morning and find you dead.” He communicated that he wasn’t ready to go and sure enough, he rallied in the morning and I felt optimistic all day. Clever boy had lulled me into a false sense of calm.
During the night around 3 am, my husband went downstairs to see if Domino wanted to come in from the porch. He’d refused to come in all day and was acting strange. Perhaps a premonition. Radish sat by the front door and meowed to be fed as he had every night. He ate and appeared fine. When my husband (a much earlier riser than me) went down to make coffee a few hours later he found Radish by the front door, dead. This was the first time in two weeks, I’d slept in later and the first time I didn’t rush downstairs in the morning to see how he was. Instead, a pile of work-related papers fell mysteriously from the love-seat in my dressing room to the floor. I picked up the pile and brought it back into bed to sort. A short while later my husband walks in the room and I ask, “How’s Radish?”
“I wanted to let you sleep.”
One look at his face and I knew. “He’s dead! Why didn’t you wake me up?” And so the day began so tear-laden, I resorted to paper towels because regular tissues weren’t absorbent enough.
Hubby had already called and spoken to our vet, Dr. G. who said we did all we could. “He was a fighter and went in his own time and in his own way.”
So much happened in such a short period of time, it feels like Radish was around for years. Time ebbed, flowed, magically stood still and accelerated, sometimes all at once. Radish had the extraordinary otherworldly presence of a very old soul and familiar. Communication with him was more weirdly effortless than with my soul cat Merlin and I’ve lived with him for 20 years!
In equal parts heroic and miraculous, Radish fought to live or at least long enough to leave his mark and teach me a lesson about love, compassion and patience (among others). I’m grateful for the detailed notes I wrote every night which will help make sense of what happened. I’m in the shock of grief and humbled by the outpouring of kindness during every step of the Radish journey.
The odds were always a stacked against him. Odds that would have been higher had he received treatment earlier. Or better yet, been vetted at the shelter months ago. There is no passing of blame. The facts speak for themselves. Radish, like all cats had a life purpose. His life mattered. His death matters. Compassion without action is just a feeling. If it’s his destiny to make a difference in the lives of other unvetted shelter cats, his journey may just have just begun. May I add: for a cat who was on bite hold and placed on kill list for being too aggressive, he was as loving as could be. He had plenty of opportunity to scratch or bite being handled daily, carried up and downstairs, given all kinds of meds, syringe fed, sponge cleaned, sub.Q fluids and nebulizer twice daily without extending as much as a claw.
Thank-you, you awesome, big-hearted cat lovers. You’ll find out soon just how big a role you played. For now, I have some healing and grieving to do.
In case, I’m unable to post anything for Father’s Day. I’d like to give hubby Joe a big hug of thanks. He did a lot of the heavy lifting and I could not have done it without him. Yes, real men love cats and really fine men don’t mind getting on their hands and knees to scrape sticky cat poop off the floor.