Saying Goodbye to A Friend

Happy New Year

Well, 2018 is now behind us and we have the year 2019 to look forward to. The year 2018 really wasn't much different than most other years. We did get a chance to go on vacation in April and spent a week in Las Vegas where the weather was hot and dry, compared to Ottawa where we had what I feel is one of the longest winters we've experienced since moving here in 2000. The time we got to spend in Las Vegas gave us a chance to recharge the batteries somewhat and take in some sites we had never seen before, including the Hoover Dam. The year had some ups and also had some very low downs, including the last 2 months of the year when one of our cats became very ill.

Worst Day of 2018

Ozzy stretching out on his perch. He had such nice markings.
Ozzy stretching out on his perch.

On November 8th, 2018, I was on my way to Cornwall when my wife called that one of her cats couldn't breathe. At first, I thought she was talking about the oldest cat Sweetness, who just turned 19 years old this past December. But it was Ozzy, our 8-year-old purebred Bengal cat that was having the problems. As I was at least an hour away, I suggested that she call a neighbour and she if they could give her a ride to the Emergency Animal Hospital, which happens to be a few blocks from our home. She managed to get Ozzy into a travel crate and get him to the Animal hospital where they started working on him immediately after he arrived. The staff put him on oxygen to help him breath and gave him a shot of Prednisone, a steroid that is often used in situations such as the one Ozzy was experiencing. They said that they would do some tests and get back to us. There obviously were some communication issues as when we went to pick him up that night and we asked about the test results, we were told that they didn't do anything but administer oxygen and the Prednisone. They did put him on an antibiotic and on heart medication as they said that he had a heart murmur. They suggested that he had asthma and that we monitor him for the next couple of weeks and see how the medication worked. He seemed to be getting better, although it was a daily struggle to get him to take his medications.

First Memories of Ozzy

My wife Louise for some time had wanted a purebred Bengal cat and for her birthday in 2010, I bought one for her. We had to drive from Ottawa to a breeder located between Montreal and Quebec City. We made the drive on my wife's birthday as the kittens were not ready for pickup before that time. When we first picked Ozzy up, he was just a small kitten at 10 weeks of age and was still skittish. We put Ozzy in the traveling crate and started making the trip back to Ottawa. Ozzy did nothing but howl the whole way back, which made driving through the snowstorm even more nerve-wracking. But we did make it back and once we had him home, he was accepted right away by the other two cats. Waffle, one of our other cats, was still quite young herself being under two years of age. Waffle took on the role of mother to Ozzy for the next few weeks until he got a bit larger.

Ozzy when we brought him home at 10 weeks of age. His markings aren't as pronounced, but you could tell at that time they would be nice.
Ozzy when we brought him home at 10 weeks of age.

The one memory that sticks out for me was how fast he was. One day in our apartment building, we had the door open and since we were at the very end of the long hallway, there was about 75 feet from our door to the corner where the elevators were situated. I was almost at the corner near the elevators and all three cats were out in the hallway. Ozzy was right behind me and the other two cats were about half way down the hallway. Suddenly, there was a noise and all the cats turned and bolted for the apartment. Ozzy easily had twice the distance to run than the other two cats, and he not only made it to the apartment first, he actually jumped over the other two cats on his way. I was stunned at how quick he was and the power he had, even at full speed.

Trying to Help a Sick Cat

Ozzy was taking his medications and seemed to be getting better. At the end of November, we saw him succumb to another episode where he was unable to breathe and fell to the ground. This was the first time I had seen him during one his attacks. It seemed that this was something other than asthma, and we were getting him ready to take him to the Animal Hospital once again when he recovered and seemed to get better. We didn't want to stress him any further, so we let him rest in his bed. Two days later, he had another attack, and once again he recovered after a few minutes. However, it was quite clear that he was suffering during these events and it was quite clear that it was also traumatizing him. The way these attacks came on whenever he exerted himself or was exposed to stressful situations seemed to me as heart failure. You could also hear the fluid build up in his lungs when he was having an attack, suggesting it was his heart failing him. Also, Ozzy lived to eat, and he was very overweight, which was something I was trying to rectify, but with four cats, feeding time can be an issue and my wife chose to just leave a bowl of food out, so the cats could eat whenever they wanted. Ozzy would eat everything put in front of him and even at the end, he would go into the dog's dish to eat his food if he couldn't make it to the counter to eat the cat food. Despite everything, I discussed the situation with my wife and explained that we couldn't let him continue suffering like he was, and we had to consider having him put down. The option of medications was discussed and with the problems we had getting him to take his medications for the previous few weeks, so this didn't seem viable for the long-term. I had also done some research on congestive heart failure in cats and most indications were that his life expectancy could be as short as 3 months from the first episode, even with medications. At the end of the day, I didn't want to see him suffer any further and he had lived a very good life that I can honestly say most cats would never experience. The life expectancy for the Bengal cat is often listed at 10 – 12 years, although I'm sure there have been many that have lived considerably longer. Ozzy was 8 years old and very overweight, so I would have to say I expect had he not been sick, he probably would have had another 3 or 4 years, but that wasn't the case at this time.

Goodbye Ozzy

On December 5th, 2018, we put Ozzy in his travel crate one last time and brought him to our vet in Gatineau, Quebec to have him put down. After much discussion and consideration, we thought that to be the best choice rather than have him continue to suffer through more episodes and have to perhaps go through multiple medications before we found one that worked.

Ozzy at the vet's office in Gatineau. This is one of the last pictures we have of him. He was actually curious about the office.
Ozzy at the vet's office in Gatineau. This is one of the last pictures we have of him.

It was a very difficult decision and we didn't think it would be as hard to do as it was. The other three cats and the dog all watched as we put Ozzy in his crate and then put him in the vehicle for the trip to the vet's office in Gatineau. Our dog Sunny, was the one who first let my wife know there was something wrong back in early November and he had become friends with Ozzy since we had him come into our home as a puppy back in October of 2017. Sunny also let us know on a later event that something was wrong with the cat and he wouldn't stop running back and forth until one of us went with him to see what was wrong. When we came home from the vet's office the first thing Sunny did was run around the house looking for Ozzy and he spent the next couple of days crying and looking for the cat. The two older cats have not been the same since Ozzy left, with Waffle no longer wanting to go into the basement where the litter boxes are, and Sweetness has been crying throughout the day and night. The youngest cat, Mocha, who is also part Bengal, seems to be the pet that is least affected by the issue, but then again, she didn't spend the last 8 years each day with Ozzy as the other two had done. Clearly, animals are quite affected by changes in their environment and with the loss of their companions. It took Sunny some time to get used to the fact that Ozzy was no longer in the house. For the first week, he was constantly going to the top of the basement stairs and waiting for Ozzy (who spent the last couple of weeks in the basement) to come up to eat or make some type of movement. It was also very hard on my wife as Ozzy was the best birthday present, she had ever gotten.

Back Home

On December 21st, 2018, I made the trip to our vet in Gatineau and picked up the ashes of Ozzy and brought him back home. I took a picture of the urn and texted my wife who was at work at the time that Ozzy was back home.

Ozzy is back home for Christmas. When I saw this urn, it was the one we had to get for Ozzy. A brown urn with a ceramic cat sleeping on the top. Very fitting as Ozzy slept for most of his last days.
Ozzy is back home for Christmas. When I saw this urn, it was the one we had to get for Ozzy. Very fitting as Ozzy slept for most of his last days.

She said that she started crying and it was a good thing she had no customers in her office at the time. It's very difficult making the decision to put one of your pets down as they truly do become members of the family. Our pets become loyal and depend on us for their very existence and they do understand and are grateful when we rescue them from a bad situation. We got Waffle when she was a kitten from the Humane Society where she had been abandoned and she still shows her gratitude to this day, some 9 years later.

I know that this was a long, rambling post, but I thought I would put in the time to make this as a memorial to one of the best pets we have ever owned. Ozzy was extremely intelligent for a cat and was also very loyal and would cuddle up with my wife at night in bed and sit beside her when she was eating her breakfast in the morning. Unfortunately, like us humans, pets can also become ill and in some situations, it's best to end the suffering and let them go. At the very end, it was easy to see that Ozzy just wanted it all to end and he had no fight left in him. I wasn't exactly happy with how cold and condescending the veterinarian who administered the drugs was regarding the situation, but that will have to be left to another time, but I will link to that post from this one. I just don't think it appropriate to include that part of the story in this one.

If you have any comments or have a similar story, feel free to leave your comments below.

RIP Ozzy,

GMan

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