(originally published Dec. 24th 2013)
Yesterday, December 23rd, we had to put our kitty Lincoln to sleep. Lincoln had been dealing with intestinal cancer for a few to several months, and he had been mostly out of it for the last few days, gazing blankly as we walked by, said his name or shook the treat bag. Normally, anyone of those things would have at least warranted a head turn or a “wha”.
Lincoln was born on the same farm I grew up on, and was believed to be offspring from Gus’s mother, but impossible to really know.
He was polydactyl with 7 toes on the left front foot and 8 on the right front foot. He had to have teeth pulled because of bad oral hygiene which made his face contorted. Lincoln was also not smart.
He would walk around the house making noises as he went. Sometimes alone in the basement as he pooped or looked for mischief or sometimes when he would see another cat out in the yard – and in turn would attack Gus who was just walking by to see WTF was going on. Lincoln would go nuts over seeing another cat. Dogs, squirrels, birds, people, mice – didn’t care. But a cat… When he saw a cat he would literally lose his shit. He had this way of expressing his anal glands, and wow I have never smelled something so terrible. Once while we were living at 3916 Grand Ave in Mpls, I frightened him while he was on my lap and I got that shit on my face. I was stunned.
He generally smelled bad and was dirty. He and Olive were bitter enemies and she could not walk by him or he walk by her without her hissing and running out of the room. Dozens of times we had to split them up or they would have likely killed each other. I’ve never seen two animals hate each other more. Actually, I dont know if he hated her. I’m not sure he had the mental capacity to hate her. Eventually they got to the point where they could both be on the bed together, but only if they were separated by the maximum distance possible.
He had been suffering from what the doctor considered an infection, although they didn’t know where it was or what it was specifically. He was having issues going to the bathroom, so they thought it might be a UTI. They prescribed an antibiotic and told us to give him 24-36 hours to start eating again. We had been force feeding him baby food and water, in addition to the Prednisolone. Sometime later on the afternoon of the 23rd, another doctor called us up after reviewing the results of his blood test thought we should come back and pick up some medicine that would help heal what she thought was an intestinal infection. We had to give him a dissolved pill for indigestion, medicine for the intestinal issue, prednisolone and clavimax. We were forcing meds down his throat every 5-6 hours and he had a big lesion on his back from the cancer so he had to wear a baby tshirt – which he hated wearing.
The cancer meds, which were the second attempt at treatment after the first meds had failed to make a dent in his large cell type of cancer, were starting to work. His lesion on his chin was gone and the one on his back was shrinking. Unfortunately, cancer meds of this type reduced his ability to fight infection, which would lead to little to no appetite, which lead to little to no energy, which lead to basically a comatose cat.
It was very hard to see him go through this. Of course the question is, “why do it?” but, because we were so used to having him around in varied states, because he was old, because he was our “boy” we were willing to put him through it. We could see Lincoln was a fighter, he wanted to live. Each day was a slightly different story. Every once in a while though, I would shudder at how awful he looked. He stopped cleaning himself, he stopped jumping up on the air conditioner to look out the window, he stopped going insane for treats – but he kept purring and making little noises when we would enter the room. Lincoln was famous for this. No other cat Ive known or heard about would talk as much as Lincoln did, and it was only to us. He loved to be held, he loved to sit in our laps, he loved to be around us. We figured as long as he kept doing this, he had a chance. So when this ended, we knew it was time.
Of course as we sat in the “client quiet room” he was somewhat alert and purring. He walked around the room for a minute and then he laid down again. I took a picture and a couple videos and apologized to him for getting angry at him and suggesting his urinating on our furniture and walls gave us no choice but to have him put down. I recalled being so angry at Lincoln. I thought about all the times I wrote him off as being this big dumb kitty and all the times we had to lock him out of the basement after finding piss on our books and chairs.
But I also thought about the times he would just jump up on my lap. Or how he would lay in the middle of the floor of the kitchen, completely unaware of being in the way. He would lay right on the wheels of my office chair, never thinking it could hurt him. He just wanted to be near me and would jump up on the desk to sit in my lap – didnt matter if I was willing, he was going to do it. He would let out these long sighs just as he was falling asleep that sounded like some kind of cheap spooky moan and snored just as loudly as we did. He smelled bad, and his feet were always sweaty because of having so many toes. He tried so hard to keep himself clean and his licking noises quickly became annoying.
As the nurse pushed the button on the syringe I could swear he was purring. Robyn held him in her arms in the same way as she had so many thousands of times before, after work, in the morning, or when she was feeling bad and wanted a cuddle, and it was very peaceful. He let out one last sigh and moved on. He hardly changed form and this was further confirmation that we made the right choice. I held him one last time, the nurse took him and I touched his tail and back feet. Good night monkey tail, go hang out with Gus as you loved to do.