Orion: 16 April 2004 - 11 March 2019
I have been quiet on my blog over the past few weeks, and I want to share what has been going on and the reasons for my lack of posts. Three weeks ago, my cat Orion began walking with a limp and we discovered a lump on his right hind leg. Testing proved it to be benign, but his walking became more and more uncomfortable. Starting last week, he would only walk a few meters and rest, with his right hind leg becoming more and more swollen. We took him to the vet for analysis and a mass the size of a golf ball was discovered near his stomach, and we were told that this tumour was the reason Orion was having such a hard time walking. The vet said he would have about a month left with us as he was too old to receive surgery to remove it.
Today, on 11 March 2019, after showing significant improvements including eating, drinking and using the litter box regularly, Orion woke up with extremely laboured breathing and was unable to walk at all. I had to carry him to his food, water, litter box and bed. A technician from the vet that has been helping him since the fall of 2017 by providing him with fluids after he suffered a bowel blockage notified us that he was losing colour and that his breathing was becoming more and more distressed.
Around 5:00 pm, I had to bring my beloved cat, my best friend, and the little guy who has been with me since my sister passed away, to the vet to be put to sleep. The mass around his stomach had ruptured and was bleeding internally, leading to extensive pain in his abdomen and there was nothing that could be done.
I held onto Orion from my house until he passed away alongside his favourite foam ball, a bag of catnip and his toy mouse. Just before the doctor came in, he started purring as my father, mother, our technician and I pet him, kissed his head and cried terribly. I can barely get through typing this so far. The worst part was signing the euthanasia form for consent, while classical piano music by Debussy, Satie and Schumann played over the speaker in what is essentially the death room. Many of those pieces were part of my repertoire and I have no intentions on ever playing them again.
He was so good, with his eyes bright and looking so content on the outside when the process began. My mother had to leave the room and I held onto my little buddy until the doctor informed me that his heart had stopped, and I still stayed there until the involuntary movements ceased. Because the ground is frozen, the vet is going to keep him so we can bury him in our garden alongside our dogs beneath a heart shaped rock when the thaw comes.
This cat came into my life at the perfect time, just a few weeks after my sister passed. Our old dog Jackson had gotten groomed, and they were giving away kittens with each grooming. Knowing that my family was going through, they asked if we wanted a kitten, and we agreed. He was the cutest little fuzzball who came running into the house with a little blue bow and bell around his neck and the most adorable white tip on his tail. After running around for a few minutes, he hid behind our couch and let out a huge meow, the only time in his life he ever did so.
We debated a few names, and I had jokingly thrown out Zoidberg in reference to Futurama, but I chose Orion because the little bell around his neck reminded me of the Galaxy in Men in Black. He would always come to me, sleeping on my bed, getting into my drawers and throwing my socks all over my room. When he first arrived, he came with what was then his favourite toy, a blue wand with a red string attached. We played for hours each day, and he would always sit on top of my desk when I was writing a paper for school, or would curl up beneath my piano as I practiced.
Orion was the nicest cat I ever knew or had. He never growled, hissed or scratched. His one vice was food, and he quickly gained a reputation as the fat cat, nicknamed Chubby, as the grams were laid on. At his peak, he was a whopping 12 kg. It was only in the last two months he finally lost enough weight due to a rigorous diet that he got down to a normal weigh and he didn’t look so much like a pumpkin with a peanut for a head.
Whenever I had a bad day, he would always curl up next to me or in my lap for hours at a time, purring away. He’d only move if he had to use the litter box or to eat. We had a connection that I have never had with any other animal. Orion always knew when I needed him, and vice versa. When my high school ex (the one that was later stalking me) and I broke up, he stayed with me for hours as I cried, or would get my attention off of her by carrying his little blue ball over to me for a game. He loved that ball, and would carry it all over the house like a dog. I now have it in a box of all my special items and pictures, always keeping him near my heart.
When Orion was about a year or two old, he decided that our laundry basket would be his new house. I always had to keep it on its side so he could curl up inside it on top of an old towel or blanket. The first time he was ever really sick, I knew right away since he didn’t want to use his laundry house, instead running up the computer desk and trying to isolate himself. Nobody believed me that he was sick, but I kept pestering to take him to the vet and sure enough, he had a fever from a minute virus that cleared up in no time.
If I were sick with a sinus infection, he would always come over and curl up next to me. Even just three weeks ago, he did this while I was suffering from sinusitis again, placing his head over my left leg and reaching over me while I cupped his ears.
Orion loved to watch television and video games. His favourite television show was Meerkat Manor. He would sit in front of that TV for an entire episode atop a footstool, watching the meerkats popping out of their holes and running about. If I played a game on my PlayStation 2, he would always come into the room to watch the screen. He loved watching Star Wars: Battlefront (the original, good one) the most, with all the soldiers running about in battle. It was captivating for him.
When I stayed in Boston with my cousins for a weekend in college, he was so upset that I wasn’t home that he slept outside my bedroom door, and then on my bed until I came home two days later. He followed me everywhere for weeks after that.
Orion was only ever given the best cat food, spring water and healthy snacks. This didn’t mean we didn’t spoil him from the table. He would come racing when he heard the electric carving knife because that almost always meant turkey. He loved turkey and would pace around the house each time we cooked one, waiting for a piece. I found him on the dining table on more than one occasion where he was successfully stealing a slab of white meat. Every now and then, he’d also get a little piece of bacon or some vanilla ice cream.
Some of the funniest moments I had with him was the time he got tangled in a shopping bag and raced around the house several times, peeing the whole time. I had to bathe him in the tub at midnight and scrub the whole house, but it was something to see. Another time, he climbed onto the kitchen counter, onto the refrigerator and fell behind it without injury. My dad and I had to look all over and then we heard little squeaks from behind the fridge, and sure enough he was there, waiting patiently to be found!
This cat was my best (non-human) friend. I was in a deep state of grief after losing my sister that I don’t know what would have happened to me if it were not for Orion. He filled a hole in me, in my soul, and gave me hope to keep going. He gave me companionship on sleepless nights and would hang out in my bedroom until sunrise on nights where I couldn’t sleep at all from night terrors.
I feel so alone right now after today and my chest hurts terribly from constant panic attacks. I feel like his declining health was my fault, and I feel awful that this had to happen. I was hoping to get at least one more night together on the couch with him or even carrying him onto my bed and snuggling up together. If he passed in the night at least it would be with me. Staying with him to the very end at a vet’s office was the best I could do for my little buddy and lovebug.
Of all things, I just didn’t want him to be alone.
I know that my sister Hannah is taking good care of you, Orion. I promise that I’ll see you again someday. I’ll love you forever.