It’s been five days. Five days since my sweet, Caster curmudgeon left this world. I still keep hoping that I will wake up and realize the last week has been one big nightmare. I don’t want to accept that he really is gone forever. I know I need to, but I really don’t want to. Can I just see him one more time? Can I please just snuggle with him one last time?
It’s hard to understand how everything around me just keeps going. The world keeps moving like nothing happened. My world feels like it’s come to a screeching halt, and I want to yell at everyone around me to just STOP. Don’t you understand that Caster is gone?! How can you just keep going about your business like there’s nothing wrong?! Can’t you see that everything is crumbling?! I know that’s irrational. Obviously no one is going to know or even care. Obviously the world will keep going. Obviously I have to keep going.
I’m feeling such a strong mix of heartache and anger. I’m angry that he’s gone. I’m angry that I don’t get to see him again. I’m angry that his life was cut short. He was only 6 – I should have had at least 10 more years with him. I’m angry that nobody ever figured out what was wrong with him. Maybe if his mystery illness had been solved, he would still be here. I’m heartbroken for all the same reasons. There’s such a fine line between sadness and anger, and I seem to keep crossing it, back and forth.
I try to distract myself with work and other tasks because thinking of Caster hurts so badly. But at the same time, I never want to stop thinking about him. I’m so afraid that my memories and love will fade as time goes by, so I keep trying to remember everything. I have a little notebook that I keep writing down any Caster memory that comes to mind. There are so many. He was such a big and vibrant personality.
Here are a few of my favorites memories:
His gotcha day – I’ll never forget the day I found him in the woods behind our old apartment. I woke up to the sound of a cat crying, so I got up, went outside, and followed the cries until I laid eyes on Caster. As soon as he saw me, his eyes got really big, I knelt down, and he jumped into my arms. It was meant to be.
Climbing the door frames – all of our door frames have scratch marks all the way down them because he would run and jump up them, then slide down them like a fireman on a fire pole.
Body slamming doors – he hated closed doors. If he wanted into a room that was closed off, he would body slam it full force. It always sounded like a football player ramming into the door.
Best friend to the boys – Caster was best friends with Kylo Ren and Raddy. Kylo Ren in particular really looked up to Caster when Kylo first joined the family. He would follow Caster around and copy everything he did. He was a literal copy cat.
His roar – Caster didn’t meow. He roared. It’s hard to describe his vocalizations, and I so wish I had a recording of them. He had the cutest little roar. What I would give to hear it again…
That time he beat Sampson at the yearly Easter egg hunt – Sampson has always been the egg hunt champ, but a couple years ago, Caster beat him out by one egg.
His love of coffee – I’m not a coffee drinker, but Bobby is. He had to be careful about leaving a coffee cup unattended though because Caster would find it and start drinking it. He didn’t drink any other human drinks – just coffee. Bobby and I always found this to be so hilarious. (I know cats shouldn’t drink coffee – we never allowed him to have more than a lick.)
His cuddliness – Caster has never been a lap cat. For many years, the only time he would ever cuddle was on rare occasion at night, under cover of darkness. As he got older, he became cuddlier though and got to where he would sleep curled up between my legs almost every night. A few days before he left us, he jumped up on the couch with me and took a nap on my stomach. He had never actually laid ON me before. Beside me or between my legs, yes, but never on me.
For those who are wondering, Caster came down with an unknown illness back in November of last year. He stopped eating, became lethargic, and was hypothermic. He also started losing his vision and was diagnosed with chorioretinitis. Chorioretinitis is a secondary condition though, caused by some other underlying issue. After weeks of vet visits and tests, nobody was able to figure out the underlying cause of all his issues. Long story short, our vet prescribed prednisolone and Caster slowly but surely recovered.
Though he never quite regained his former confidence, he’d been doing well. In fact, Bobby and I were commenting just last week that Caster was looking better than he ever has since he was sick. Then last Tuesday, Caster didn’t eat. Not wanting to take any chances considering his weird health history, we were at the vet on Wednesday. They did a physical exam, blood work, and a urinalysis – all came back normal. The vet gave Caster some fluids and sent us home. Over the next couple days, things went from bad to worse.
We were at the vet as soon as they opened on Friday morning. Caster’s temperature was so low it didn’t even register on the thermometer. They put him under some heated blanket thing called an Equator, and tried to do more tests. He wasn’t cooperating though, so they had to give him a very mild sedative. They did some other kind of blood test and took X-rays. Again, inconclusive. They gave him more fluids and a steroid injection since the steroids helped so much last time. They also prescribed more steroids for us to administer at home.
We set Caster up under a heating pad as soon as we got home. After 4 hours though, he was still hypothermic and never really woke up from the sedative. He was in obvious discomfort. He was showing no signs of improvement or change or of even coming back around, even after hours of trying to heat him up, fluids, and the steroid injection. Our vet also agreed that even if he did recover, the prognosis was most likely not good. Both vets thought that Caster likely had some bizarre auto-immune disorder. They threw out a couple of names, but I don’t even remember what they were. All I know is that my sweet boy was suffering, and there didn’t appear to be an end in sight. Whatever he experienced back in November returned with a vengeance, and his little body wasn’t able to fight it off this time. We decided it was best to have the vet help Caster the rest of the way over the Rainbow Bridge.
I’m grateful for our vet and his staff. They tried so hard and did everything they could. Caster just couldn’t be saved this time. Whatever he had, it came on fast. It blind-sided us. I know the pain will eventually subside. I know things will eventually go back to “normal.” Or whatever our new normal will be, at least. Things will never be the same though. I still can’t believe it’s real.
How long will it be before I stop looking for him at meal time? Before I stop picking up his bowl to feed him? Before I stop looking for him when I walk in the door? Before I stop expecting him to walk around the corner and let out his signature roar? I don’t know. All I know is Caster is gone, and my heart is broken.
aka Mudgey, Mudge Man, Little Mudge
January 11, 2013 – August 23, 2019
If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.