The last few days have been exhausting. About a week ago, my husband and I noticed that one of our cats, Mercury, seemed a little subdued. We kept an eye on it but didn’t really notice anything different until Sunday. On Sunday it seemed like she was exhausted and even going up the stairs took a lot of effort. When we took her to the vet on Monday they found out she was severely anemic. There were several theories as to why; possibly some kind of intestinal perforation or a tumor but the vet finally settled on the most likely possibility of it being an auto-immune disorder that attacked her red blood cells. Our vet–who is amazing–did everything he could, but yesterday when she didn’t improve after treatment, he suggested we take her to the Michigan State University vet clinic. It’s one of the top-rated vet clinics in the country, and, thankfully, only twenty minutes away. We were so hopeful that they’d be able to do cure her.
Unfortunately, MSU discovered that in addition to the anemia, she also had an enlarged heart and fluid in her chest cavity. Even if she’d made it through the testing and treatment for the anemia, which was unlikely, the enlarged heart meant she probably only had a few months left. Ultimately the decision came down to quality of life and whether we’d be keeping her alive for our own sake or hers.
So we held her while the vet put her to sleep and then brought her home. The other cats had a chance to say goodbye to her and today we’ll bury her in the backyard under the lilac bush we planted the first spring we lived here. She’ll be tucked into the fuzzy cat bed she loved so much and next to the two rabbits we’ve also buried.
I took the day off work today, knowing that even if I didn’t burst into tears every five minutes, I lacked the patience to deal with people. It’s gloomy and rainy, which feels strangely appropriate and comforting and I’m having a quiet day at home with Ra, Copper, and Onyx. We’ve had Ra as long as we had Mercury, about 8 years. Mercury was a year old and he was a kitten when we got them from the Humane Society. We’d been through the worst months of our lives, dealing with an apartment fire, theft, car accident, and personal health issues. We were exhausted and worn-thin, our two-year relationship tested and then strengthened by the stress that piled on in just a few short months. It was a crazy time to be thinking about adopting cats, but something coaxed us over to the side of the pet store where they housed rescue cats.
There was a cute little striped kitten who was very playful and we knew he was the perfect fit. None of the other kitten clicked with us though, so we looked at the adults after asking if the Buy One, Get One Free deal applied to adult cats as well. It did, so we checked out the adults. At the time, Mercury was named Gracie and was rather plain looking. Her fur was static-y and dull, but her eyes were bright and she reminded me a bit of a Russian Blue. I saw the potential in her even though my husband wasn’t quite convinced, but he agreed to get her anyway and once we were cleared by the Humane Society, we took them both home.
After about twenty minutes of Ra growling at her once we got them home, they became inseparable. She groomed him like a mama cat and they tussled and snuggled for years. Getting them was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.
Mercury’s coat grew thick and plush, a gorgeous, silvery-grey color, and we fell in love with her. She was an odd cat sometimes; stand-offish and solitary at first, but a year or so after we got her she seemed to relax. We swore that while we were at work, she taught herself how to be cute. Every day when we’d come home she seemed to have picked up at new trick for being adorable. She’d flop around on the floor in the dining room, waving her feet in the air so we’d pet her belly. She learned to make this rrr-rrr-rrr noise like she was winding up as she came trotting over to be pet. She loved both of us, but she was totally my husband’s cat and she loved to curl up at his feet while he was laying on the sofa. Before bed, she’d lay on one or the other of us, purring quietly while we read and bumping her head into the tablet if we stopped petting her.
She was pushy sometimes, wanting attention, and she ate a lot of things she shouldn’t have. She nearly died after eating ten feet of sewing thread and had to have major surgery. She chewed plants and there was an unfortunate run-in with a silicone, erm, toy. I won’t go into details but yeah, that was an awkward trip to the vets. She drove us nuts and cost us a hell of a lot of money over the years, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Last summer when we were working on our kitchen remodel, painting the cupboard doors in the garage, two kittens strolled into our driveway. They were still very small, but walked up bold-as-brass like they belonged there. I took one look at them and knew that they were there for a reason. I didn’t really know what the reason was–the idea of having four cats seemed crazy–but now I think maybe it was so Ra wouldn’t be alone when Mercury was gone. He and Copper are two of a kind and they spend a lot of time together and I am so glad he, and we, have them.
Letting Mercury go was a difficult choice. I’ve spent the last couple of days crying on and off and it’ll be a while before that stops. I’ll wonder if there was any chance we could have caught the anemia sooner. But, mostly, I’ll remember the pushy, feisty, pain-in-the-butt cat I was lucky enough to have for eight years. Love you, Miss Mercury, you’ll be missed.