Wednesday was my 60th birthday. I am not big on celebrating birthdays, the reason for which I'm not going into now. The night before, Clark wouldn't eat his dinner. I knew something was up because he is normally a total pest when I start dishing out everyone's dinner - dogs first, then the cats. His head was in the bowl before the food. He couldn't wait for the can opener to get the top off of the can. But Tuesday night was different. He sat docilely on the floor.
Clark had not been well for nearly a year. His blood tests didn't reveal any specific underlying problem, and since April of last year he had held his own. Occasionally I would have to give him fluids, but lately as long as I ran the water in the sink, he would drink his fill. Only about 2 weeks earlier I had finally purchased an electric drinking fountain for him, in the hopes of saving on my water bill. He tried it a couple of times and then went back to waiting for me to turn on the faucet. I capitulated. Now he stopped drinking as well.
I took Wednesday off from work, hoping to jump start his appetite by giving him fluids and force feeding him. He objected to both and found a secret hiding place for most of the day. By late in the evening I knew it was time to let him go. Even when he was eating more food than most of the other cats, it was obvious he was losing weight. By Thursday morning he looked too thin and fragile.
I took him to the vet at 9 on Thursday morning. Choosing euthanasia, which I've had to do many more times than anyone I know, is never easy. I tried to back out when my vet came into the room. He took one look at Clark and said it was obvious he was in liver failure. Whatever life saving attempts we would make would only be very, very short term. Clark, a nearly 12 year old cat, weighed only 4 pounds at the time of his death. Yet to the end, his fascination for sinks and running water remained. Just before the vet had entered the room, Clark had jumped from the examination table to the trashcan and then into the sink. After discussing our options, I decided that it was time to let him go.
I found Clark one spring morning as I was returning from dropping off 5 feral kittens for spay/neuter surgeries. I was nearly home, driving down a busy 4 lane road when I saw a small kitten happily meandering across the road. He seemed delighted with his surroundings, oblivious to the imminent dangers of his sojourn. Another woman had stopped as well, and pleaded with me to take him because she had a Rottweiler at home and couldn't possible take in a kitten. Little did she know that I had 4 dogs of my own and a house full of cats. I took him with me, OF COURSE! For the short ride home, he was climbing on me and purring up a storm. I had never, and have never to this day, seen a friendlier more loving kitten. Compared to the rest of him, his ears were enormous. All of my critters' names begin with a C, so he became Clark, named after Clark Gable (big ears! and handsome).
Clark loved to sleep across my neck, with his head by one of my ears.....purring loudly. Within days after I brought the 5 kittens home, I found out that their sister had died unexpectedly. I had gotten her fixed about a week earlier and returned her to where she had been trapped. I was relatively new to trap-neuter-return of feral cats and thought these kittens were too old to socialize. And then one of the kittens from the same litter became sick. Apparently the sister who had died and at least one of the kittens (who is named Chaz) had contracted Calicivirus. Chaz recovered, but his sister Charlise, one of my adult cats - Catherine, and Clark came down with it. All three were hospitalized, and Clark was the last one to come home. The staff at the clinic, along with myself, were concerned he wouldn't pull through. But he did, which delighted all of us. His charming, lovable personality had won over everyone at the clinic. In the span of a few months, I had managed to save his little life twice.
I have had and currently have many cats. Before Clark, two of my males (Casey - the world's greatest living being and Carson - the epitome of CAT) had a habit of jumping into my arms or onto to my shoulder from the floor or some perch. Clark developed this same habit. And he wouldn't take no for an answer. If I turned my back, he'd just jump on my back. If I left the room, he'd follow me and find a way to leap into my arms. He didn't ask to be picked up, he took matters into his own paws. Of the three, he was the champion. He could jump (fly?) at least 6 feet through the air. Near the end, his jumps stopped. Maybe that should have been my first clue.
In my experience, it's never easy to lose a beloved companion animal. Each one is special in their own way, and some are more special than others. Each will be missed, some more than others. The hardest part, for me, is dinner time. Having to put out one less dish. Now, not having to struggle to get the food into the dishes is when I miss Clark the most. Old habits are difficult to break and although his insistence at dinner time was aggravating most of the time, it is now what I miss the most. Although I miss him, I would have missed so much more if I hadn't stopped and picked him up that day nearly 12 years ago.