Our dear cat Tommy, 2000 - 2017
We got Tommy in Germany. He was a young homeless cat. He won my heart by being brave, because he was sleeping on concrete floors and was eating flies and spiders. He kept eating them even after we adopted him, for many many years.
We used to have many cats, but none of them survived very long in Germany. I guess because there are so many cars, and the road are so good. But after we got Tommy things changed. Tommy was the most cautions cat in the world. He would never leave the house, run out of the door, or cross a street, without first thoroughly checking the surroundings. I guess this is called selection. Thanks to his amazing instincts he managed to reach his old age and to die peacefully in his bed, and not on the road.
We could tell you lots and lots of stories about Tommy. He was a unique cat. He didn't like anybody. It is okay that he didn't trust dogs. But he absolutely hated all cats, too. Male, female, little kitten - doesn't matter, he didn't like them. And he didn't trust humans, too.
When we decided to move to Canada in 2004 we took him with us. Tommy was 4 years old at that time. We had to pass a vet inspection, and he had to get a ticket, and after paying some surcharge at the airport the price of his flight was the same as ours. We try not to remember all those jerks at the Chicago airport, who insisted that we take him out of the kennel, so they can search his tiny plastic see through box for nuclear weapons. Poor Tommy was scared like hell and kept wetting his box. But then life changed, and after we arrived in Winnipeg he could accompany us on extended walks in a park like area. Because of my job we had to move to the east coast, and we almost lost our minds when Tommy suddenly disappeared. We kept walking around and driving around for days, and all in wain. And on the very last day, when all vehicles were packed and we were getting ready to hit the road our beloved Tommy suddenly appeared on the top of the wooden fence and greeted us with his meowing.
That's how our Tommy became a traveler, and crossed with our family not only the ocean, but the entire North American continent. Twice!
In Nova Scotia Tommy was accompanying us on our extended walks through the woods. Often in the early morning we would find on our door steps mice, or leftovers from birds, pigeons, squirrels and even rabbits. Once the neighbors dog, a big shepherd, chased Tommy into the woods, and Tommy climbed up a tall tree. He was sitting there all night and next day, about 40 feet high. We cut that damn tree and rescued him.
Tommy was never interested in human food, and was never begging for food, or stealing food in the kitchen.
When we moved to western Canada in 2007 we were renting a house in Prince Albert. And there was that huge red colored cat, belonging to the neighbors. His owner warned us that her cat is vicious and is terrorizing the entire area. It was clearly visible that Tomkin (that's how we often call Tommy) didn't like that all. Once, when we came home from a shopping trip, we found the entire yard covered with white fur and with red fur. There was definitely much more of the red fur, and since then we have not seen that red cat around anymore.
We bought a nice house in Muenster, near Humboldt (in Saskatchewan) in 2008, and Tommy had a wonderful life. The yard was like an acreage, with a couple of big gardens, and he loved to sleep in the grass or in the flower beds. He used to explore the entire village at night, our friends reported seeing him far away from our home.
Tommy in summer 2008, in the new house, wishing his momma Happy Birthday!
It somehow happened that Katie became his best friend, guardian and momma. With years they had developed very strong bonds, and Katie was taking very good care of him, or making sure that we took good care of Tommy. He had a well planned diet, and the visit to the vet in summer of 2016 had good result, veterinaries told us that Tommy was in excellent health.
During his last years he started to meow really loudly, and we found this funny. It sounded as if he was really demanding for food. It took us some time to discover that Tommy was getting deaf.
In fall of 2011 we bought a place up north, a summer camp, with cabins, and we started to take Tommy with us. He moved with us to our camp in summer of 2016, and in fall of 2016 we bought a house near our camp, in the provincial forest, and we moved to this house. Tommy really loved the new place. He didn't go much outside, but he enjoyed sitting on the windows sill, laying on the couch, and especially on his blanket next to the wood stove. This became his favorite spot. He would usually have only one meal during the day, at supper time, even if the food was always readily available. He used to drink a lot.
During the 2016 Christmas time he got his first seizure. Our entire family was around, and I decided to hang a present on the wall and took the hammer and a nail. Tommy was asleep on the couch, and startled by that sound he jumped off and hit the furniture and collapsed. He quickly recovered and we had many wonderful days together. Every evening he was sitting next to the table and waiting for us. That was the time when I started spoiling him with small pieces of cheese, fish, sausage, meat. He was a picky eater. After having a small bite he would re... and lay down for a nap. Later he discovered the king bed in the living room, and it became his favorite spot as well. But of course during the last 5 years his favorite spot was always on the couch, between Wally and Olga. It is hard to image an evening without feeling the warmth of Tomkins body and without hearing his purring.
Did I tell you that he went completely blind in 2017? But he managed, he had very good quality of life. He was walking around, graciously avoiding any obstacles, using his litter box, finding his food and water, exploring all corners of the house, and even going outside to enjoy the fresh air for a while.
I wish I could say that he passed away peacefully, in his sleep. But this wouldn't be Tommy. He was and is a fighter!
24 April 2017 we had supper, and Tommy enjoyed a peace of deer meat. Around 10 PM we were watching TV, and suddenly he had a seizure. Afterwards we calmed him down and made him comfortable, but later during the night he had about 4 seizures, in different places of the house. I spent a sleepless night with him, trying to hold him and to comfort him. Next morning I informed all family members, and told them that Tommy is getting ready for his last trip. He spent the day on the couch, next to me. He was in really bad shape and exhausted, but to my huge surprise he ate a piece of a sausage. We decided to give him some wet food, and he hungrily ate it all. He didn't want to drink, but we opened a can of tuna fish and diluted the brine with water, and he drunk it all. This gave us hope. Later in the day I gave him more of the wet food, and he not only ate it all, but was trying to bite the rim of the bowl. Around 5 PM he even tried to walk around, and managed to get inside the litter box and to do his business. But he was so weak and so confused that he couldn't get out, we took him out and placed him on the couch again. During the day we also thoroughly washed and combed him, and I cut his nails, in hopes that this will somewhat help him not to get stuck when having seizures.
Real trouble begun on 25 April around 9 PM. We were finishing our supper and getting ready for a conference (video) call with Katie and Robin, when Tommy suddenly woke up, then rose on the couch and started hissing. He went down from the couch and behaved as if he was in a fight with an invisible dog. Every time he would touch a piece of furniture or just anything he would freak out, hit it with his paws, bite it. He was walking in a small circle, counter clock wise. I was constantly trying to remove any obstacles, but this didn't help. And when he touched anything he was vicious, just vicious. You couldn't approach him, he would tear you apart. Using a blanket or a towel didn't make any sense, he would just attack them and bite them, and I was sure that if he gets confined he would get a seizure. It was really sad to watch all this. Especially bad was it around the table and the chairs. At some point he hid himself very hard and was bleeding. It wasn't much, just a few drops of blood, but they got smeared on the floor, and it looked bad. We decided to spend the night in the living room. It was a sleepless night again. Relief came around 3 AM. Tommy had a seizure again, this time in the bathroom, and after this seizure his aggressiveness was gone completely. I could pick him up and comfort him, and I placed him on the couch. It is unbelievable how much power this kitten had. He was fully exhausted, but every time I was petting him he would change his tone and tried to purr. It was rather some sort of moaning, but this was how he used to purr sometimes. Rest of the night was not as bad as before. He would periodically wake up, leave the couch, somehow get down and then start walking around the house. There was nothing specific he was trying to do, he just couldn't stay quiet, that's all. He went in every possible corner, got stuck numerous times, and I kept moving things, allowing him to pass, to get through or to come out, and sometimes getting him back on the couch. He didn't resist and was actually happy to be comforted, but after a while he would try to walk around again. Then he had another seizure, when lying on the couch. It wasn't really bad, because he was completely exhausted at this time. I cuddled him and pet him, and after a while he was almost purring again. It was early morning, almost daylight, and I took him in my arms and we went outside, to get some fresh air, and to say fare well to this beautiful big world. I think at this point Tommy didn't notice anything, and didn't care anymore. But you never know, because he definitely enjoyed being petted.
I put him on the couch, on the side, and he remained in that position, with his legs stretched out. He didn't move much since then. He was just breathing. He had a couple of medium seizures, and it was heartbreaking to hear his moaning. It was a harsh sound, like a human crying in pain. But he was not in pain, I think he was just completely confused and trying to meow, and because of all the spasm the sound would come out like that. I went outside to do some chores and to get some fresh air. We took an extended walk with the dog, trying to clear our head and to get rid of the sad thoughts. But when back at home it was heartbreaking to watch the poor guy laying on his side, and breathing. He kept reacting to my gentle strokes. he didn't move at all, even touching his whiskers didn't trigger any reaction, but every time I gently stroke him the sound of his breathing would change to a very familiar sound, between purring and moaning. He remained in that position forever, without moving a muscle, and just his heart kept pumping blood, and his lungs kept pumping air. Once in a while I would give him a gentle stroke, and his breath would change, and become more deep and loud, stronger than it was. I kept doing this all day long, and he always responded. With time his breathing was getting heavier and heavier, he was breathing with difficulty, and his body was not responding to touching anymore. And all the time his tiny legs were moving, twitching just a little bit. All the time. I am sure that in his mind he was walking, because that was our Tommy, the guy always on the move. This time walking down his last final path, to the end of the journey called LIFE. Our little star walker. Now every night, when looking at the sky, I will try to see Tommy there.
On 26 April, exactly 13 years after arriving in Canada, at 6:53 he took his last breath and his little brave heart stopped beating. After some convulsions our little Tommy expired. Peacefully, at home, on his favorite couch.
RIP, little man. You taught us a great lesson, and you made our lives full of joy. Make sure you warm up that damn couch upstairs for me, when I arrive at your place. I will bring you some tuna fish, Tommy! And I don't mind the smell of you piss on my clothes, seriously. I almost like it. I know that if I had a seizure I wouldn't be able to hold it, too. Who cares, right?
PS: The day Tommy showed the first symptoms we had a prolonged conversation with a very experienced vet, and he advised us against euthanizing the cat. All what he said made perfect sense, and we decided to allow the cat to pass at home. Besides him freaking out at some point and fighting invisible enemies he was never in pain, just confused, really confused. Especially after the seizures. We know for sure that Tommy would be horrified of being transported, and then killed by strangers. He was already in complete silence and darkness, but always in comfort, always feeling our warmth and our love. He needed us more than ever.
Last hours. The morning sun was for a while shining into his face, and I didn't close the curtains, in hopes that he will see that precious light in the end of the tunnel.
Here is what Katie his guarding angel, and best friend, wrote about Tommy:
Tommy taught me many things, but the most important one was to enjoy life. I spent so much time with him playing, cuddling, sleeping and just doing nothing, just observing life as it went by. What struck me the most about Tommy is how much he enjoyed being alive. He was the only one I've ever known who derived pure joy just from rolling in the grass, lying in the warm sunshine, smelling dandelions and getting his cute nose all yellow. I will never forget what he taught me, how much joy he brought us, and how happy he was.
Tomy sleeping on his favorite bed, last Christmas, December 2016.