21 October 2015

A eulogy for Larry (part-cat, part-dog, part-bird)

Remembering Larry
Most of you will already know that Michael and I had to put Larry, our third cat, down on Monday evening. He had been hit by a car and it broke his pelvis and spine, disabling his two back legs. We are so fortunate and thankful for several things, though we are utterly saddened by this loss. First, we are glad to have both been home when he went into distress (he'd been hit a short time before we realized it, and just lounging outside while Michael worked, since we assume he wasn't really in pain and just couldn't feel his legs). All I had to do when Michael brought him in and we saw the blood on the floor and heard his confused yowling as he tried to get onto his legs was turn the oven off before we were able to get out the door. Secondly, we are just about 5 minutes away from a 24-hour emergency vet hospital, and since it was 7:30pm on a Monday, the place was nearly deserted and we didn't have to wait at all for them to see him. The staff were extremely gracious and forthcoming about the financial side of things as well as their guess as to what was wrong with him, giving us only clear and understandable information and being patient with our questions. Finally, we were relieved that the vet who examined Larry was able to tell with her preliminary exam the extent of the damage. It allowed us to know what the right decision was. Had we chosen to try to have his fractured back end surgically repaired, he would have had a long and painful road to recovery ahead (at least 6-8 weeks) and even then no guarantee of being back to 100%. Even had he been back to 100% after that, there's no telling that he wouldn't have gone out on his first day back outside and had another driver hit him. During recovery, he would have hated having to stay inside, and with the baby being around along with the other two cats, it would have been extra-challenging for everyone. 

The vet has special rooms where the lighting isn't as bright and where families can be more comfortable for situations where an animal is being put down. We were able to spend a few minutes with Larry before she came in to administer the euthanasia, and he was not in any pain as they had given him a catheter and some pain medicine. He was himself until the very end, though we could tell he was very confused as to why his legs were no longer carrying him. As those of you who have had to put down pets yourselves know, the end was quick and painless. Both the cats that I grew up with were put down while I was away at college, so I had never experienced this before and it was almost unbearable, though of course I wouldn't have chosen to not be there with Larry. 

We buried Larry underneath the spot next to our front hedge where he began napping for large parts of the day a few months ago. The huge amount of rocks that Michael had to pull out and dig through to get the hole deep enough for him now provide him shelter from the wind and rain that he so disliked, despite his love of being outdoors. We hope to find a perennial to plant inside of the rock "wall" to further commemorate this amazing animal.

Larry came into our lives only days after we found out that we were expecting a baby. He wandered up to Michael while he was working at his parents' house in North Lynnwood, and never stopped following him around. He followed him right inside, back out and into my father-in-law's van where Michael was organizing. When Michael texted me that day to ask if I wanted another cat, my answer was, of course, a pretty resilient NO. He brought him home anyway, and quickly and efficiently charmed his way into my heart. While his arrival was quite the shock for our other two cats, at least Mater warmed enough to him over time that, since late spring, the two of them had a tenuously functional relationship closely resembling that of a middle school romance. They would play, though both were very stand-offish; Larry because Mater was several pounds heavier than him and Mater because she never really wanted to admit she didn't hate him, I assume. Taffy, on the other hand, never warmed and was stressed constantly while Larry was around. Once he knew he could get a rise out of her (and that she wasn't going to fight back if he harassed her), of course he did so as often as he could. So, all of this to say that the chaos that entered our lives with Larry gave us, for about 9 months, a bizarre introduction to that of a child. While we are very aware that three cats and the crazy dynamics that brings is nothing at all like bringing home an infant for the first time, Larry forced us to solve many problems we never would have had to otherwise, and to navigate some strange new dynamics and situations with the other two felines that have shared our home for the past four years. 

Michael and I strongly believe that God's hand was heavy in this event, and that Larry was meant to be with us throughout this pregnancy, but no further. His arrival at the time we found out I was pregnant and his departure (or return home to God) the day before any real contractions began for me bring us peace in this. As I said, we are simply beside ourselves after the loss of this little prince, and in many ways find ourselves wondering how we will go on. The tears have been abundant, as memories of him are all around and we both keep expecting him to come prancing in the door when we open it. But we know that anytime now, a new little prince will be entering our lives and that the Lord knew that, for whatever reason, Larry didn't quite fit into that equation. Michael and I continue to trust in His provision and are grateful to have had such a rich 9 months with the strangest, most delightful animal that either of us have ever met (and likely ever will meet). The animal that we always called "part-cat, part-dog" and that my dad recently dubbed "a bird in a cat-suit" is simply irreplaceable, and the hole he has left in our hearts and our home is huge. 

Larry, we love you and words cannot express how much you are already missed. You were a companion unmatched for Michael during his projects and time in the yard and garage, and brought me much joy and laughter as you played and lived life at such a high speed. We can't believe that we were lucky enough to love you, but are so grateful that we did. May you rest in peace as you have come home to a place where you can run outdoors for eternity without ever getting hurt.

Some photos of Larry:

This photo was taken either the first or second day that Larry was part of our household. I was still skeptical of having a third cat, but that face was indeed hard to resist. Like Mater and Taffy, Larry loved looking out the window from this vantage point on top of my desk, but if it was dark, he'd settle for a stare-down with me, too.

Larry loved messing about in our bathtub. Here he is actually bathing himself while in the tub, but his favorite thing to do was to sit on the side while I was having a bubble bath. He would dip his paw in the water and pull out some bubbles (the lavender flavor didn't seem to bother him) before cleaning it meticulously. Ironically, he hated getting bathed and the rain...

Anytime anyone was outside, Larry loved to be with them, if only for a few minutes at a time. Him & Michael spent hours together in the yard and garage, but here I was the lucky benefactor of his curiosity on a rare day I read outside in the sun last spring.

Rarely did Larry stop moving when he was inside the house, let alone to cuddle like this. (He did cuddle a lot with Michael in the garage, but was so easily wound up in the house by the two other cats being around that he never seemed to calm down in here!) I think he only sat with me for about 5 minutes here, but he was digging it while he did. I find it slightly ironic that I was reading "Black Skin, White Masks" here...

No caption needed here...Larry didn't beg too often, since he was often running about or in his kitty tower during mealtime, but he was just as much of an opportunist as the next cat! Here, the guitar case gave him an extra-special vantage point.

He was not a happy camper when we took this photo, but Larry did enjoy watching tv (sports or otherwise) with us. The look on Michael's face only shows about half of the amount of love he had for this cat; I loved Larry, too, but those two were the best of friends. May that little bundle of energy rest in peace where he lies in our front drive and frolic to his heart's content in Heaven. Our home will never be the same without him!

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