One month ago, I had to put my Mr. Piggermeister to sleep. I've had to put some of my other cats to sleep in the past, but this one feels different....harder for me... We'd been through so much together...over a 15 year span. And I saw this guy go from a tough, scrappy street cat to a total 'mush'...to a geriatric kitty. Here's our story. (I'll be doing the Candlelight ceremony this evening with some of y'all....)
Mr. Piggermeister (200?-2020)
He came into my life in 2005. He was a scrappy little guy, who’d obviously had a tough existence up to this point. It’s anyone's guess how old he was at the time, though clearly adult. He was part of a colony of feral cats who lived in one of the yards just on the other side of my patio, in Harlem. I lived on the ground floor of a brownstone (a rowhouse, really) which had a small cement patio just off the back/kitchen door. The patio had a cement floor and cinderblock walls around 10’ high, topped with barbed wire. This guy was capable of skirting the barbed wire, and could jump down into my patio and then scale the wall again, when it was time for him to return to his colony. He began ‘visiting’ with my other cat, whom I’d let out in the patio, on a daily basis.
As a feral cat, Mr. Piggermeister was naturally very skittish, but over time he was less likely to run away, if he saw me. Eventually, I was actually able to coax him into a cat carrier. (I kept my back door open, put an open carrier on the kitchen floor, and a plate of food in the back of the carrier. Apparently he trusted me enough, and actually went in the carrier to eat the food. 😉) Bam! I closed the carrier, and then brought him to the ASPCA.
He had an open wound on the front of his neck (not surprising…perhaps from the barbed wire?), and we also realized that his tail was a ‘stub’ about 4” long, with a hard lumpy nub at the end (he likely had an ‘accident’, and that’s how his tail healed over…) The vet cleaned his wound and neutered him. ‘You’ll need to keep him indoors for 24 hours before you let him back out again…’ ‘OK’, I replied.
The next morning I had to go to work, so I decided to keep Mr. Piggermeister alone in the bathroom (a rather spacious one, by NYC standards) along with water, litter box, etc. Since it was warm out, I also kept the (screened) bathroom window open. I then closed the door, leaving my other cat to have the rest of the apartment to himself (with a second litter box)…
That night as I approach my apartment door, I was expecting to hear the wails of a wild cat. But, nothing. Then I go to the bathroom, open the door and…. ‘huh?....huh?...where IS he??’ And then I saw it. A big hole torn through the window screen. But remember, I was on the ground floor, so we were lucky. I opened my kitchen door to the patio, and there he was, standing!
While I initially had no intentions of taking him in, and trying to domesticate him, that’s obviously how it turned out. But boy, what a tough first year it was. He was really ‘wild’. But over time, he became a total ‘wuss’, and turned into one of the sweetest cats ever. At some point I decided to name him Mr. Piggermeister, due to his voracious appetite...
Over the years, he had a number of close-calls medically speaking, where we wondered if he was going to pull through (...or as my friend, Paul, would put it, 'he'd packed his little knapsack a number of times, but each time decided to stay a bit longer..."). More recently though, his arthritis was getting very bad, and he was having trouble walking. And more recently still, he was unable to support himself. The vet wondered if it might have been neurological… I served as a human harness these past few days, supporting his body weight while he peed, drank water, etc. But clearly, not sustainable....
So the decision was made. Obviously a gut-wrenching one.
Jack, his faithful companion, still remains. Jack and Mr. Piggermeister were best buddies through and through, typically sleeping side by side, and often even grooming each other… ;-(https://www.flickr.com/photos/7665915@N02/albums/72157715347309931/with/50185246541/