Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sebastian 2001-2014

We lost our good friend and rescue cat Sebastian on Tuesday. It's been a week of heartbreak and reflection and a bit of regret. The apartment really doesnt seem the same without him. There are tumbleweeds of his hair in their allotted corners and crumbs of his strewn litter align certain kitchen crevices. There's no whine like interruption from the foot of my bed to be fed at 330 in the morning. There's no trotting down the stairs(not all of the way, but enough) to greet me every single time we entered, as he splayed himself out on a step of his choice, belly up for a rub. When my son is with his mom next week, it should be as empty and depressing as I expect it to be here, without my pal Sebastian.

Sebastian or "Sebbie" as Hud often called him was a 12 year old orange tabby crumpled up into a dirty sad corner of a cage at the Philadelphia SPCA last May when we first saw him. Older rescues are a much "harder sell" at the pound and Sebastian's description affixed to the cage announced that previous owners had to get rid of him after "allergy problems". Really? After 12 years of having him? What a crime. Well, we put an end to his tenure there and brought him home.

I had always been a dog person. I mean, we had cats growing up in an old farmhouse, but they were outdoor cats.I don't believe I bonded with them as much as I did the dogs we had.City Cat, Pansy and Snowball all met their various demises as often times outdoor cats do, by desertion, a friend's motorcycle and a neighborhood attack. So it was onto a life of dogs for me. My longtime companion was a wonderful golden retriever named Blarney(no, not the purple dinosaur) who was my confidant and fellow traveler for 15.5 years. I lost him in 2003 and had no interest in getting another dog for two reasons. I was living in NYC at the time and my fiance(later my wife, then ex wife) was sort of a crazy cat lady.

She had a cat named Ruby who was the real love of her life, a persnickety old tabby who didn't like anything but being left alone. This fed my perception of cats as animals who never really bonded to their human as dogs do, never followed them around, never went on hikes or bike rides with them, never partook in the fierce pleasure of sticking their head out of a moving vehicle at 65 miles an hour, etc. I didn't think there was hope for us, my fiance or Ruby.

Little did I know. We started spotting a stray emaciated orange tabby  scrounging and begging in the connected back yards of our neighbors apartment. My ex started feeding it and soon after, asked my opinion on whether we should keep it or not...and that's when Marmalade entered our lives and changed my opinion on cats forever. Marmalade was instantly interested in everything in that little apartment quickly attached to us and even gave friendship with Ruby a try. Ruby was far from a kitten, and prone to hiding under the bed in full brood mode when Marmalade was holding court. That wouldn't change much over the years, but when Marm wasn't around Ruby would crawl into your lap. Who knows whether it was for the selfish reason of needing to be stroked or an attempt at love of some sort. In the next year, we rescued several animals, an old beagle we named Gilligan(but couldn't keep), an orange tabby who had just been struck by a car and was found bleeding and broken in our hallway and I even had a go at rescuing some feral kittens nesting in a window well, but as soon as I got them out they scattered in a flurry of hissing and screeching. I was becoming an animal rights person, a borderline activist ...who still loved a good steak of course.

We moved to San Francisco in the early fall of 2004 and ended up driving across the country....with two cats in cages in the back seat of a big Ford Explorer. Marmalade would gaze out panicked and wide eyed, but mostly scared silent for the 9 state scurry. Ruby howled and cursed in a dull roar for the entirety of our trip. Those two cats figured out a way to coexist, through that move and our stay in San Francisco and the birth of our son. Another cross country trip back east to Philly in 2007 led to a a new house and then Ruby's tragic death from cancer in 2009. Clifford, a large, mostly white (with orange accents) cat then joined the fold. We split up in 2010 and the ex got custody of the cats . I guess I was a cat person as well now, because it really sucked not having a cat around for the first time in almost 10 years.

I lasted three years without a pet until that great day last May when we brought Sebastian home. Sebastian was diagnosed with a UTI in May of this year, He had been sluggish and hitting the litter box repetitively to no avail. When I took him in to get looked at, they were able to "express" urine. This is a fancy way of saying to squeeze pee out of him.They prescribed antibiotics and pain killers and he was back to waking me up at odd hours for food in no time.  When it happened again a week
ago...he couldn't really move. I tried to find his bladder and couldn't, I gave him the same drugs as he was given in may hoping they would take. They didn't. I took him into a clinic in South Philly after the SPCA said that he was "blocked" and they couldn't help him. When a cat is blocked, they most likely have formed crystals in their urinary tract and cant pee. This becomes potentially fatal when the trapped urine re enters the blood stream and shuts the kidneys down.

Sebastian died in my arms after I made the decision to have him put down. I just could not afford the treatment or surgery needed to keep him around. There is tremendous guilt on my part, as the only real reason he's not here is that I couldn't afford to help him. To add to my sadness, my landlord refused to allow me to bury him in the back yard, adjacent to the window sill where he kept a close, but fairly content eye on the chirping birds and restless squirrels alive in the tree cover around us. I kept poor Sebastian in a box next to the gatorade and made a decision to take him out into the woods and bury him under a tree with a chorus of chirping summer birds. It is there where he rests for eternity. Goodbye Sebastian, thanks for making me enjoy being a cat person. We will miss you.

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