How do you say goodbye to a sweet little cat who shared life with you for almost 21 years?
In late August of 1982, as a tiny kitten with a pointy face, long tail, big ears, "distinctive" voice, and jet-black fur softer than velvet, you rode home with us from the Winnipeg Humane Society. After taking less than a week to win his heart, you became Igor-cat's lifelong soul-mate.
For most of your life, if you found yourself alone after waking from a nap, you would wander the house, yowling at the top of your considerable lungs until you heard Igor's answering "murp?" or a human's voice calling your name. Then you would make that little happy "AAaa" noise of yours, and snuggle up to Igor's warm tummy, or jump up to a human's lap for a cuddle.
You had the largest "vocabulary" of any cat we've known. Things you used to say included...
We never entirely figured out what you were tyring to say to us, but you trained us well about keeping your food dish stocked and litter box clean.
What fun it was to play "the cork game" with you in your athletic youth. Thrown a long ways to make you scamper off to capture it, or snapped into the air to make you jump, snag it with your paws and land with it already in your mouth, that cork had a zero-percent chance to get away from you. Oh how proud you were to trot back, tail in the air, and drop it into a person's hand for another go.
You don't remember how worried your people were on that hot summer weekend all those years ago when you knocked out a basement window screen and took off on your three-day "adventure"!
Your male human bicycled all around the neighbourhood for two days looking for you, calling your name, and hoping against hope not to spot your vehicle-squished body on a road somewhere.
You were no ordinary dummy, though! You came home at 0430, yowled long and loud under the bedroom window to awaken your sleeping humans so we could come out and fetch you from the back yard into the house. Just minutes later, while you were enthusiastically devouring your first food in three days, a goose-drowning thunderstorm broke.
Later, when Sophie showed up in our front yard, you were mighty PO-ed at your people for inviting that little stray in to stay. Despite yourself, though, you must have enjoyed those chase games you used to play with her.
How you just hated it when she would ambush you from a hiding place, and walk away with a question-mark tail and a smug expression when you hissed a mighty hiss at her!
When Sophie died, you spent a few days cruising around the house cautiously making sure she wouldn't attack you again. Otherwise, you didn't seem too upset. Igor was still around, so life was good.
When Igor passed on, you became a different kitty. You became even more snugly and sweet to your people.
Not long later, your age started to show. You were diagnosed with kidney failure, and went on a special diet, started getting pills and subcutaneous fluid injections. And your pupils started getting cloudy with cataracts.
Then "the FigMonster" arrived. Oh, this was a trial for you, and after some major and drawn-out battles in which you almost held your own, your people decided to help you out by always keeping you shut away from the vigorous big Winnipeg North End street-punk of a cat that Figaro still is.
The last few years got progressively rougher for you. Long after your diagnosis of kidney disease, you got hyperthyroidism, and very recently, an X-ray showed a cancerous mass in your chest. Dr. Lameg and the other staff at Roblin Animal Hospital helped you fight the good fight for a very long time.
You endured all your pills and needles and trips to the vet for tests and adjustments to your meds like a little trooper. And until very recently, you still seemed to enjoy your life with us. The afternoon sun still heated your fur to the scalding point, and you gave people sitting at the dining table "the stare" until someone shared a few pieces of steak, prime rib, bratwurst, or whatever people food with you.
This morning, though, seeing you shun a fresh bowl of food, and then eagerly sniff and walk away from a little plate of chicken pieces, we began to suspect that your time was very near. You curled up on my chest, as snugly as ever, but you would periodically twitch and make a distressed-sounding little "row" cry.
It hurt us as much as it hurt you to see such a good little cat suffering.
So we took you to the vet for the last time…
Delilah-cat, the home we shared all these years will never again sound right to us without the sound of your raucous voice echoing in the back hall or the other places that your "acoustical research" proved to have the most resonance.
When you see Igor and Sophie in kitty-heaven, please pass along our love to them for us. (OK, hiss at Sophie one more time, if you must. She will understand and walk away laughing at you...)