When Evil Twin first showed up at the house one summer night eight years ago, we ran him off with a water hose. When he showed up again the next spring, we thought he was pregnant (nope, just fat). Letting him in at night when it was cold turned into letting him out occasionally, and he would patrol from the front door around to the back patio. We’d find him meowing at the back door to get in, covered in mulch, content that he’d protected us and our house.
One summer a few years ago, while my sister Emily was visiting, we took him to the vet because his urine smelled sweet. He was diagnosed with diabetes, and we could either put him to sleep or give him insulin shots twice a day. I told Ian to make the call, and he opted to treat him.
His insulin was switched out various times over the years, each time getting more expensive. He kept us awake at night meowing for water out of the faucet instead of drinking from a bowl. Out of revenge for the nights we didn’t get up out of a dead sleep to turn on the water, he clawed the carpet to shreds. He rarely cleaned himself, and he ruined our couch and various walls with his greasy coat. He wasn’t cuddly, but he loved to lay on Ian’s legs, tearing up his pants with his claws that he would never retract. He was mean to BK; he didn’t want to play with King Boo. He was Gordo’s evil twin.
But there was something about him that was endearing. He was protective of me. Of our house. He was friendly when people would come over; he let kids pet him and pull at his tail. He wasn’t scared of anything.
A couple months ago, we decided to stop giving him his insulin shots. It wasn’t making a difference in his health that we could tell, it wasn’t curbing his water-demanding habits, and at times it made him sick to his stomach. A couple weeks ago, we realized he had lost a lot of weight. Last week, he weighed eight pounds. He used to weigh 14.
On Wednesday, Ian was out playing trivia and I came downstairs to find Evil Twin sitting on the couch. His face had changed. Just like that. I saw death when I looked at him, and it gave me chills.
So I quit yelling at him when he got in the sink. I stopped pushing him off the bed when I would wake up to find him curled up next to me in all of his stinky glory. I started petting him a bit more.
This past week, we realized he hadn’t been eating. He tripped over a shoe that was right in front of him, and he had been having trouble jumping up onto counters. We thought we heard him crunching on a loose tooth, so on Saturday we took him to the vet to get checked out.
His tooth was fine. He had chosen on his own to stop eating. He was severely dehydrated, despite the fact that he had been drinking a lot of water. Dr. Barker, our vet, told us that he likely was in kidney failure. He could possibly have had cancer, or some other common ailment, but he was nearly blind due to cataracts, and we had believed him to be going deaf for quite some time, too.
Here was a cat who was at least 10 years old, if not older, who was diabetic, asthmatic, almost blind and deaf, severely dehydrated and most likely in kidney failure. We could have spent several hundred or thousand dollars finding out what exactly was wrong, but the vet was not hopeful he would return to a healthy state.
He was, in the vet’s words, on his way out. So we decided to let him go.
I asked that we be present because I didn’t want him to die alone. He was so dehydrated that they couldn’t get a catheter in him, so they had to inject him in his stomach. It was supposed to take 30 minutes for him to die but it took less than a minute. Dr. Barker said that was an indication that he was sicker than we had suspected.
They brought him into the room in a towel and laid him on the table, where we pet his head and talked to him as he seemed to fall asleep. In less than a minute, he was gone. His little tongue was sticking out, and his face had changed back.
I thought this would have been easier. He was just a stray that showed up years ago. We didn’t seek him out. He wasn’t cute. And we knew he was dying. I kept hoping we would come home from work and he would be lying still under the bed. It’s a lot different when you have to make that decision for another living being, even when they’re old and sick.
I know we made the right decision. But I didn’t expect to miss him so much.