November 26, 2009

Goodbye, Hermes

This is still difficult for me to type, but I feel like I have to say something to honor him.

Hermes, my 10 year old cat, passed away sometime early Monday morning. It was sudden, and hopefully not painful for him (although I fear it may have been).

This cat literally came up to me in a rather busy area (one of the side streets off Craig St) as a kitten. He followed me as I walked into a store, then was sitting there as I came out. One of my best friends is a vet, so I picked him up and took him to the office she was working at. After a few days there, she called me and said "you picked him up, he's yours..."

So I had a kitten.

Hermes was a bit of a brat right from the start. He was willful and could be aloof (sounds like most cats, right?) He could also be very affectionate, friendly, and down right adorable at times, even when getting himself in trouble.

Hermes was joined less than a year later by another cat, Loki. The same friend called me, and told me they had an orphaned kitten that needed a home, and I was it. This little guy was so young he was still being fed kitten chow mixed with kitten formula, and using the plastic tray from a Lean Cuisine as his litter box.

Loki is a very different cat than his older "brother" Hermes. Hermes loved being with people, and would always come over to see what was going on, but still maintained his distance and, dare I say, a form of dignity. Loki is very skittish around strangers, and jumps at the slightest sudden movement, but when you're in the couch watching TV or napping it's almost certain he'll cuddle up with you.

So, these guys have been my buddies for going on 10 years now. I've been through a lot, good and bad, and they've always been there for me (ok, non-animal people will say "that's because you own them", but pet lovers know what I mean...)

When I bought a house and moved in with my fiance, who has much nicer furniture than I ever did in my bachelor pads, we agreed to keep the cats downstairs.

So, this goes. Hermes has always been one to wolf down his food, and then take some of Loki's for good measure. Sometimes he'd eat so fast he'd throw some of it back up. He's also always had hairball issues. Now, I don't know what actually happened, but...Sunday morning he woke us up, meowing for his food as usual. I went downstairs and fed them. After breakfast I went downstairs to get ready to go out, and one of them had thrown up breakfast. I figured it was probably Hermes, and didn't think much more of it at the time, but told myself to make sure to check in on him later. I went grocery shopping, came home, and he was fine, running over to see what I'd gotten.

After the Steelers game (so around 4:30) I went downstairs again, and found a very different story. Hermes was sitting on the rug in the laundry room, looking, well, scared. He was drooling, and looked at me and let out a weak little "meow". I immediately grabbed my phone and called my friend the vet (the same one, now with her own practice). I didn't get her right away, so I left her a voicemail and told myself if I couldn't get hold of her I'd call one of the emergency clinics. We ate dinner, and just as we were finishing the friend called me. She offered to meet me at her clinic (which was of course normally closed -- can you tell we're friends?) so I ran off with Hermes.

She said he was dehydrated and his temperature was low, and gave him some intravenous fluids. She wanted to draw blood and do X-Rays, but without a tech to help her couldn't do much more. She felt his stomach, and he meowed, but she didn't think she felt any actual blockages (my fear given his hairball issues in the past). Her big fear was that he'd eaten something he shouldn't have, but there wasn't much else she could do at the time without help. We agreed that he'd be more comfortable at home rather than alone in a clinic cage, so I took him home, to bring him back first thing in the morning. I set him up on some blankets and gave him a kiss (yeah, I know -- I'm a softie, and this was my pal we're walking about). Around 3am I went down to check on him, and he was sleeping, but opened his eyes and stretched when I petted him.

That was the last time I saw him alive. I got up at 6 and went downstairs to check on him, and he wasn't breathing. I wrapped him up in some blankets and took him to my friend's practice. Carrying him in was probably one of the hardest things I've ever done so far in my life. We don't know what happened, and I chose to not have her autopsy him -- we may not have learned anything, and it seemed more respectful to let my little friend rest in peace.

Loki may not fully understand what's happened, but he misses his "brother". I found him sleeping in Hermes' favorite chair, but leaning AWAY from the spot Hermes would actually have been sleeping in. He's been carrying around one of Hermes' favorite toys. And, of course, he's been all over me everytime I'm down there.

I took Loki in for a checkup yesterday, just in case. He's gotten a clean bill of health so far, so that's good at least.

Goodbye, Hermes. We miss you.


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