Grayson was his formal name. We just called him Gray Boy. I guess that he lived right at thirteen years…but there’s no way to tell for sure. He was about five years old when he sauntered into my life.
Gray Boy happily accepted a bowl of canned cat food. He drank from the water bowl and took a nap. He liked to sit on the porch rail when the weather was cool. When it was hot he stayed under the porch or curled up next to a shrub. I never saw him stalk a bird or a lizard or a frog. I never saw him chasing butterflies. He was content just to laze about and enjoy life.
Gray Boy didn’t care much for being picked up and carried around but he sure liked to curl up next to me on the bed at night and get some good scratching on his rather large head.
This old tom cat was getting along just fine until about two months ago when I saw him staggering around. Gray Boy was having some serious balance issues. I took him to a Veterinary Clinic a few miles from my house.
Thus began a process of ear treatments, medications and, finally, a diagnosis of FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus). Once the symptoms manifest themselves, a downward cycle begins with a loss of appetite and lack of mobility. He went blind in his right eye. Gray Boy just found himself a spot and slept. He snoozed a lot. Gradually, he stopped eating altogether.
I was very disappointed that this long established vet took $350 of my meager income before performing a FIV test. I think they were just trying to run up the bill. I took Gray Boy in one day and, while I waited, he lay lethargic and sickly on the table. The vet’s assistant came in with a tray full of needles and said that he needed to get his shots updated. I was too grief stricken to tell her that was a batshit crazy idea for a cat in his condition. Add that to the cost.*
I would find him under my bed or in a closet and try to give him some water. It was very difficult to watch him lick just enough to wet his mouth and gag on the rest.
Gray Boy got a brief reprieve somewhere in this process when the vet tried to get him to eat a special formula canned food. He seemed to like it so I bought a few cans and left. On the way back home Gray Boy was feasting from the can on the floorboard of my vehicle.
A false hope stirred in me when he did that. Truthfully, I just needed more time to say goodbye to an old friend. The vet put Gray Boy to sleep yesterday. I tried to hold back the tears but I’ve never been very good at that. I guess that I’m an old softie.
About ten days before the end I went out in the yard to dig him a grave. There was a nice, unclaimed spot beneath a live oak tree next to a burford holly bush. I say unclaimed because three spots were already taken in this general vicinity.
The first spot was taken by Simon. He was an adopted stray. He, too, died from FIV. It was around seven years ago that I dug his grave. Simon was as fun and friendly to me as he was tough and dominant in the pet hierarchy.
Next on the list was Huppo the dog. He was one of the few pets that I searched out…found him in the paper, paid a few bucks, and took him home. Most of the other critters I adopted just showed up at my doorstep sporting a friendly purr or a wagging tail and, of course, a hearty appetite.
Huppo got to the point where he could barely walk. It was summer so I put him in the back of my Honda Element and drove around to the little pond on the back of the property where I live. I carried him to the water where I spent a half hour or so walking in water up to my armpits. He needed to get some exercise and, even though he was in my arms, he kicked his legs as I was wading. This was, I am guessing, some primordial dog response to immersion in a body of water.
Huppo died about six years ago. He was lying on the living room floor at about eleven p.m. …still breathing but very tired. There was a thunderstorm that night. It was the longest and most violent summer storm that I have ever experienced. Thunder roared and lightning bolts crashed for several hours.
I went to bed and, at around two a.m., was awakened by thunder. I stumbled to the living room to check on Huppo. He was dead.
Old Hup was a big dog. He got a big hole.
The next permanent visitor to my little love garden was Molly Brown. She was a skinny beagle mix who just showed up one day. She didn’t stay skinny very long.
Molly died in my arms on the living room floor. She was lying in the same spot where Huppo had passed on a few years earlier. I can’t seem to locate any good still shots of her but I did post some footage in a music video I uploaded to YouTube. The little dog is Molly. The other one is Big Cheeze. He’s still alive and kicking.
Now there is a fourth grave. A special spot for Gray Boy. Rest in peace, sweet kitty…
*I add this footnote on 10/30/14: I will never again darken the door of that disturbed bunch of Yahoos again. Yes, there are some really bad people out there in the veterinary world. I started going to Best Friends Animal Clinic located in the Bi-Lo shopping center in Tanner Plantation (Hanahan). Dr. Mokos is a great, caring individual and a true professional. She and her staff are leaps and bounds above the money grubbers who mishandled my pal Grey Boy.