Since my last post a wonderful couple in Victoria, BC has agreed to give Spike and Tyson a new home. I’ve known Todd since the early 80s when we were members of a travelling gypsy caravan (AKA the harness racing industry in Manitoba and Saskatchewan). And while I have not met his partner Kelly, it’s obvious that she’s a cat person. And just to be safe, let me stress that there’s a distinct difference between cat person and cat lady. Kelly is most definitely a cat person.
Kelly will be in Ontario in April and is willing to take both cats home with her on WestJet. Apparently paying passengers can do that for just 50 bucks. Who knew? The cats occupy a 2’ x 3’ cage that is stowed in a climate-controlled section of the plane. They won’t disturb other passengers and yet they’re not exactly stacked up with the luggage. Having said that, I told the adoptive parents that I wouldn’t put 18-year-old Tyson on a plane without my vet’s blessing and perhaps a sedative-to-go. I don’t know about cats, but I’m not the least bit afraid of flying and I still enjoy a Crown & Coke in the terminal and maybe another one on board. Well, maybe two. Okay, make ’em doubles if there’s a baby within 25 rows.
Unfortunately this is where the story takes a sad turn. I came home from work late on Saturday night to find Tyson in his usual spot on the couch, only this time instead of jumping down and positioning himself in front of the can-opener he looked up at me and made three long, drawn-out “meows” that were unlike any I had ever heard. When I walked over to tell him to “get up” so that I could “lay down”, he refused to move. After determining that he couldn’t walk or stand on his own, I got him onto a blanket and the blanket into the cat carrier. Fifteeen minutes later we were at a 24-hour emergency vet clinic in the city’s north end (280 Sheppard East).
It was obvious that something was seriously wrong. First, he absolutely hates the cat carrier yet he let me put him in it without a fight or a sound. And secondly, after making a few noises while I carried him to the car, he soon grew silent and I didn’t hear a whimper for 15 minutes. That just isn’t Tyson in a car. I feared the worst. But when we walked through the clinic’s front door, and he obviously spotted another cat in the waiting room, he did manage to make a faint noise. Not a very loud one, but at least he was alive.
Unfortunately the vet’s diagnosis was not good. Tyson’s kidneys had shut down and he was almost totally blind – something that had likely developed over the course of a few days. Two days earlier he had tried to jump onto a chair and failed miserably. I had chalked it up to old age. In hindsight it’s obvious that he was losing muscle control very rapidly.
Deep in my very heavy heart, I knew it was time to say goodbye to an 18-year-old cat that I had adopted 13 years earlier. He had survived life on the mean streets of Toronto, a run-in with a TTC streetcar that left him with 50% of his teeth, moves between loft, house and loft, and two much younger feline roommates who often wanted to play when he was more interested in napping.
So at 3:36 on Sunday morning the vet left Tyson and I in the examination room for a few minutes of alone time. Despite being in obvious distress the old boy purred like mad when I stroked his head. I got the impression that he knew it was time to go. I’d like to think that he was thanking me for 13 great years. I know that’s what I said to him.
Good-bye, my friend.
R.I.P. Tyson Hamilton (1996-2014).