A nervous and skittish cat since he matured, easily frightened by loud noises, sudden movements, and such, he was terrorized by something he saw outside Tuesday evening. A feral cat has been making regular visits and “deposits” on our patio doors for the past couple of weeks, and we believe that catching a glimpse of that animal along with the scent of his “deposit” is what set him off. (A rant about irresponsible pet owners another time…)
He assumed a pounce position with ears laid flat back, and the sounds that came out of our poor boy when either of us tried to approach him were otherworldly. I’ve never heard such screams from a cat, and I’ve had cats my whole life. He chased my daughter’s cat behind a chair, but didn’t hurt him, even though he was poised to attack. The vet explained that this was probably just adrenaline and that it should wear off in a few hours. Charlie managed to use a spray bottle of water to coax him into the spare bedroom and we left him in peace and quiet for night, hoping he’d be okay by morning.
Wednesday morning, he was meowing in his sweet voice to get out of the room, and we gingerly set him free. He ate, had a drink, and walked around the apartment, though a little nervously, perhaps. I was able to pat him, he purred, and all seemed well. Until Charlie stood to pour himself a second cup of coffee and everything returned to the previous night’s terror. It was nerve-wracking for us, not knowing if he might, indeed, fly into one of us or into the other cat…but I was mostly upset for him, at how absolutely terrified he must have been. Cats do, apparently, have “nervous breakdowns”, and we believe that’s what happened to our Toby.
We made the gut-wrenching decision to set him free from his monsters. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do; I think it was the saddest day of my life. And it was made all the worse by knowing that he was such a physically healthy, beautiful cat, only 8 years old, who had an otherwise sweet, gentle personality. A cat who never scratched, but would gently tap your arm to get your attention. But we agreed that we couldn’t live with the unpredictability of when something might set him off again, especially considering our grandson, and when a screaming session might become more aggressive. Most of all, we agreed that living in panic and terror, always being fearful, was no life for our beautiful boy.
When Toby first became part of our family, Charlie had rescued him from a litter of kittens at the end of someone’s driveway. He was the only kitten left and you can imagine my surprise when he arrived home with him. :) He was small enough to sit in the palm of Charlie’s hand, but what a little rascal he was. He became my constant companion. A Turkish Angora, he grew a velvety soft, single coat that never had so much as a knot. In the winter, he grew a beautiful ruff which he promptly shed each spring. He was a large cat by most standards, weighing well over 12 lbs., but was lean and lithe and loved to play.
This is my favourite photo of Toby. I swear you can see straight into his soul through those gorgeous copper eyes. I know many of you have said goodbye to beloved pets before, and you know how agonizing it is. Right now, it seems like our days will never be the same. His ashes will come back to us today–I’m not sure if that will be a comfort or not, but I believe it will be.
I’m trying to let the edges of those painful incidents blur, and focus instead on the 8 years of unconditional love we shared. Mostly, I’m at peace, knowing that our wonderful boy rests, and never needs to be afraid again.