2002 – 2011
When Phoenix was a toddler, all he asked for was a cat. This was understandable as we had a couple of dogs at the time. Little known secret in the parent biz: if you have one type of animal, your child will definitely ask for a completely different species. However, this was back in my single parent days and we were living at my dad’s, who was never a cat person. So, each year went by with no cat until Phoenix was three and my dad gave the okay to get him a cat. He knew all it was all that kid wanted and he couldn’t bear denying him that anymore. The only issue was that one of my dad’s dogs was a husky who had quite a record of attacking my previous pets, including a cat I had pre-kid. I was torn between providing a safe home for the cat and seeing Phoenix happy and I didn’t know if getting a cat would be highly irresponsible of me. Naturally, I made up my mind under the best of circumstances – right after I had a tonsil and adenoidectomy and was hopped up on percosets. I took Phoenix to a Petsmart where pet adoptions were being held. As we approached the adoptable animals, I saw him. He was the tiniest little kitten stomping around like he had no fear of anything else around him. I knew immediately that was my cat. We filled out the adoption application and went home to wait. After a phone interview and after the cat was neutered, he was ours to take home. I remember being worried about how he would do with my dad’s “inside” dog, who was a pomeranian. A pomeranian who incidentally thought she was a cat. (Long story…she had issues.) So I knew the dog would be okay with a cat, but I was stressed if the cat would be too terrified of the dog. When I picked him up, I met the cat’s foster family. They owned a Great Dane that looked like he could easily swallow the cat whole. I laughed and realized he’d have no problem with our dog. The little guy was named “Slater” by his foster family, but I didn’t feel like it was the right fit for him. I always thought that names are extremely important for a pet and you have to understand the pet’s personality before choosing a name. Over the next few days, the name “Pez” stuck out the most and seemed most fitting for him. Pez was always a good kitty. He was tinier than my computer mouse when we got him, and he would sit by the computer as I worked on my school work. The dog and him ending up being pretty good buddies, and even my dad had a soft spot for Pez. As much as the dog thought she was a cat, Pez seemed to act more like a dog. He would greet me at the door every time I came home. He’d sit and beg for food like a dog. He loved White Castles and Arby’s in a weird obsessive sort of way. (Seriously, you didn’t get either without giving Pez some unless you wanted your life threatened.)
Pez liked everyone. Sometimes he’d go off in a room to get away from the noise, but he was not the typical stand-offish cat. When Phoenix would get into trouble, Pez would jump in and bite him on the head. It was an odd dynamic those two had. Pez wanted to keep him in line.
Pez put up with 2 different moves, a new child added to the mix, another cat, and two dogs. He never had the same relationship with Peanut as he did with Phoenix, but he tolerated him just fine. In the months before Peanut’s birth, I caught him a few times asleep in the crib. I was worried that he’d want to be in there with Peanut, but it turns out Pez had some common sense in that regard. Screaming, pooping baby? No thanks! The brief time we had an additional cat was probably the most stressful time for Pez, but he was back to his old self when the other cat was out of the picture. I think he liked our current home the best. He’d like to come out and sit on the patio with me. Pez was an indoor cat but he did enjoy hanging out in the backyard for a few moments just to check things out. When we got Bella, those two became buddies. He’d smack her a bit, but I’d always catch them curled up together. Juliet was another story. He growled and hissed at her from day one, when she was smaller than him. She wanted to play all the time and was overly suspicious of him, but they had a truce going now and then.
Late last month, I noticed that Pez had lost some weight. He was never a heavy cat, just had a pouch. At first, I chalked up the weight loss to the fact that Bella had been stealing his food. She had some problems of her own (allergy related), so she was having ravenous moments. We had to take extra measures to keep Pez’s food away from her. Even so, Pez wouldn’t touch his food. He’s had dry food all his life, so I figured maybe after 9 years he had decided to get finicky on me. I got him some wet food, which he ate but his appetite seemed decreased. However, he did eat turkey on Thanksgiving and was still meowing for food like his usual self, so I wasn’t overly concerned at first. Then, on Monday, he stopped eating completely. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. I knew something was wrong, but thanks to everything else I lacked funds to do anything about it right away. I spent the next few days trying to figure out how to get him to the vet. Finally, I was able to take a withdrawal out on an IRA I had, and I made him an appointment the same day. When I got home to get ready to take him, my heart sunk even more. He just laid on the couch and couldn’t, or wouldn’t, get up. As I was getting ready, he began meowing in such as strange way that we rushed out to get him to the vet immediately. I took the kids with me, feeling that this was not going to have a good ending and that they might need to say goodbye. On the way there, Pez’s breathing got more laborious. Somehow, through rush hour traffic, we made it to the vet’s. Our vet came out and looked at Pez and said “This doesn’t look good” — which, by the way, is not something one wants to hear from one’s vet, EVER. After examining him, she let us know that Pez was in the advanced stages of liver failure and that all the medical intervention in the world wouldn’t do anything. He wasn’t going to last the night. I felt as if the world just fell out beneath my feet at that moment. The only thing to do at that point was to make him comfortable and help him along. I had to explain to Peanut in the simplest and gentlest terms that Pez was going to go to sleep forever and he needed to say his goodbyes. We were given the option of leaving the room during the process. I wanted to be there with Pez, and I gave the kids the choice but they didn’t want to budge from his side. I have some comfort knowing that Pez drifted off with his family by his side. The process took mere minutes, but it seemed too fast. I wanted him to miraculously get up and be cured. I wanted more time with him. I always imagined that he’d stay with us well until Phoenix went to college and we’d have to have the conversation on whether he would take Pez with him. I never imagined that our time would be cut so short like this.
I feel so devastated and hollow inside. I keep hoping that this is just a cruel dream and I’ll wake up and Pez will be back downstairs stealing the computer chair or one of the dogs’ beds. He was the best cat anyone could have possibly asked for, and I will forever miss him.