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Posts: 7

This is my first post and the story of the loss of my sweet kitty Carlito which happened two days ago. I would greatly appreciate any input from the experienced cat owners. I am sobbing as I write this so I apologize for my possible lack of clarity or typos but I will do my best. Thank you in advance.

It was a fateful October night 4 years ago when I was sitting on my small apartment balcony gazing the stars when I saw a little gray and white cutie stray kitty passing by below. I called it to come up not expecting that it would, and so i was very surprised when it stopped, turned towards the stairs and came up to me. To my increasing surprise it let me pet it and we ended up spending at least half hour together playing and having fun.

Now at this point I should let you know that I knew absolutely nothing about cats (or animals in general) having grown up with a neurotic mother who thought that animals were dirty beings, not welcomed and generally to be avoided. Myself not willing to accept such beliefs (and others such as racism, discrimination, etc) left this family and moved out on my own to pursue my own dreams and development. All I knew is that I loved cats and I had noticed that they were very friendly with me too. Anyway, back to the story.

Being obvious to me that this kitty had no home and would probably be hungry, I thought of feeding it but since I was not a pet owner I had no cat food available. So I opened up one of my cans of tuna and sure enough it devoured it. Long story short this was the beginning of our relationship since the next day around the same time it came up again meowing outside the balcony door and I fed it once more. As our nightly encounters continued, I went and bought a bowl and food. I was having second thoughts about what I was doing because I live under very low income and can barely afford food for myself let alone the fact that I wasn't expecting to be able to afford my apartment much longer and would probably have to move out at some point. But I wanted so much to care for this cat and give it a better life that I ignored my thoughts and followed my heart.

I looked up on google how to identify its age and gender and gave him the name Carlito. He must have been approximately about 9 months to 1 year old. As time progressed he became my best friend. Carlito made my balcony his home. He was there pretty much half of the day, the rest of the time preferring to run around the apartment complex and do his thing. After four years he was practically my beloved companion. I always bought him the best food I could afford even if that meant I had to skip a meal myself. Given my financial hardship and insecurity about my relocation, I had decided to let him be an outdoor cat and let him become as self sufficient and experienced in outdoor life as possible so that he could survive on his own when the dreadful time for me to leave would come.

He would come every evening and meow for me to feed him. When I would sit outside at night he would come and climb on my lap and I would pet him and he was purring and kneading. He was enabling me to feel as if I could offer something to another being given that most of my human relationships had failed (I am a single male). I was, and still am, suffering from severe Major Depression which I have been battling for the most part of the last 20 years. Most of the people I knew had left me since I was not able to financially keep up with them in the things they wanted to do but Carlito was there no matter what.

Fast forward to 4 years later which was about 6 months ago and Carlito is now about 5 years old. However, bad news came to my life as I learned that my work time and my income would further be reduced which meant that I had to start preparing to loose my apartment and unfortunately the only viable option would be to move back to my parent's home at least for a while until I could get back on my own feet financially. As I mentioned in the beginning, my mother is hostile to animals and knowing that she has hurt other people's pets (yes i know...) I thought that Carlito would be safer trying to make it on his own than coming with me to a place that would be unsafe for him. I talked to a couple of friends of mine to see if they would be interested in adopting him but they were not really open to the idea. So I started accepting the fact that I was heading for a heartbreak and started preparing for the dreadful separation from my beloved kitty. Until this point I was feeding him 2 times a day so I though that it may be a good idea to start feeding him once so that he could slowly learn how to find food on his own and be able to survive without me. I figured that since all the other stray cats in the neighborhood did that, he should be able to do so too. It didn't seem to be a problem. I continued feeding him one meal a day and since he wasn't loosing any weight I assumed that he had managed to find some food on his own. Everything seem to work ok for the next 2 months as i was getting ready to relocate. 

Fast forward another 3 months. Carlito looks happy and healthy to the best of my knowledge. He grooms himself all day long and is very playful and fun to be around. One evening he did not show up in his usual eating time. I got a bit concerned but he had done it again 4-5 times in the past and would eventually show up a couple of days later so I tried to convince myself that he would probably show up the next day. He did not come the next day either which made me start seriously worrying but thank goodness he did eventually show up the day after. But I could sense something wasn't right. He looked like he had lost weight which would make sense given that he hadn't show up to eat for 2 days, but I had a feeling that his hair had thinned out a bit. He ate as if he was indeed very hungry and life seemed to resume as normal. Nothing out of the ordinary except I still thought that his hair had thinned out a bit.

Fast forward another month which brings us to about 3 weeks ago. As he was sitting on my lap, I had a feeling that his belly was getting big. I thought it was just my idea but started observing it for the following days. His belly was getting bigger indeed. Please remember I know very little about animals and as such I assumed that I must have mis-gendered him and that "he" was probably a "she" and was probably pregnant. I laughed at my silliness and ignorance and didn't think much more to it. As Carlito's belly kept growing and without any other signs of a problem (his appetite and behavior seemed to be normal) life continued. Actually there was something different: He was not grooming himself any more at least not as much as before if any at all. Again, I didn't think much of it. Until 4 days ago...

It was a Sunday early evening and I was trying to get some sleep as i hadn't been able to sleep for days because of the tremendous stress due to finances and the impending relocation and moving in with my parents, consequent loss of my privacy as well as separation from my cat the upcoming month. Carlito must have been hungry because he came outside the balcony door as usual and started meowing for me to feed him (or actually "her"...). I was in a quite upset mood having not slept and going through all the problems I mentioned. So I figured he can wait another half hour until I get up and feed him. He kept meowing and meowing to the point that he made me shout out loud to shush him out. Indeed I didn't hear any more meowing so I fell back asleep. Half hour later I woke up and remembered that I had to feed him. I prepared his bowl and left it outside like always. He would come up at any point to eat it.

An hour later I went back out to pick up the bowl expecting that by now he would have eaten. To my surprise it was still full. I leaned over the balcony to call him up as he usually liked to hung out down there and I saw him laying on his side on the ground with his legs twitching. It didn't seem ok even to stupid me. I thought that he may be actually giving birth so I called my friend who had a cat and asked her about it. She said that it can take quite a few hours for a cat to give birth so we couldn't tell yet. I hung up the phone and went out to check with him again. He was laying there motionless. I started freaking out. I took a flashlight and shined it on him. At this point it was about 9:30 pm so it was very dark and he was laying behind some heavy bushes so i had no easy access to him. As the light shined over him he twitched one more time. At this point I was panicking and knew that something was up. That didn't look like giving birth. It looked like he was dying. I called her back. She said that I should wait a couple of hours and see if "he" would eventually give birth. If not she would get dressed as she was in bed, and come over half hour drive to check him out. I said OK but had a BAD feeling. My panicking increased and not knowing anything about animals and having no resources, let alone money at my disposal to find and call an expert I tried to calm myself down. Impossible, I started crying knowing that this is going to turn out bad. I felt totally helpless, went back outside and he was still at the same place motionless. He wasn't twitching anymore. I thought that was it. I went back inside. I didn't want to call her and bother her again as she was in bed. I started crying hysterically picked up the phone and called her again. She said that it sounded as if he was dead and that she couldn't see any other option than to wait until the morning and call the pound. Needless to say I stayed up all night.

When the sun came up, i went outside preparing to find him dead. Indeed he was still at the same position. That was it. I picked up a box and worked my way behind the bushes and got next to his body. His tongue was hanging out and his eyes looked like they were flipped backwards or something. I was sobbing at this point and couldn't see very clearly. I gently pulled his leg and it looked as if he very slowly pulled it back. I pulled it again, same response. I tried to brave up and lift him up to put him in the box. Once i lifted him I heard a growling noise coming out of him. Obviously he was NOT completely dead. I put him in the box and run upstairs to call my friend again. She said to call the animal shelter and gave me the number but they were not opening until 12 noon. It was only around 7:30 am. In full panicking mode sobbing uncontrollably and with my cat almost dead in a box I freaked out. Didn't know what to do. I wanted to do everything I possibly could. If he needed an arm I think I would have cut mine off to save him. But it looked as if all was lost at this point. I hid the box in a very inconspicuous place and drove to my friends home to calm down and wait until 12 to take the box with the body to the shelter. At 12 I came back and went to pick up the box. It was not there... Someone must have found it and took it. Nobody passes from the place I hid it, it was totally away from human traffic as well as out of sight. The only people who may have found it would be the apartment maintenance guys but I didn't want to ask in case I would get into trouble. They were not particularly friendly to stray cats per the apartment rules if you know what I mean. So I drove to the shelter and asked if anyone had brought over a box with a gray/white cat. They hadn't...This was the end I guess.

Its been two days and I have been crying, excuse me, sobbing hysterically. I am traumatized by seeing him dying the whole night and not being able to do something. I don't know what but something. I lost my best and only friend. The only one who offered me only good times. I feel guilty thinking I could have done something although i don't know what. Maybe if those pricks hadn't picked up the box, maybe they could save him at the shelter although he was practically dead. I don't know. I thought I did everything I could. Like I said i thought it was a female and was pregnant. I didn't know any better. I have to live with guilt about the fact that I didn't get out of bed to feed him when he was calling me. As if this would have saved him...

If you made it this far, I want to thank you sincerely. I did the absolute best I could with the few resources I had. I honestly don't see or know what more I could have done throughout these 4 years that we spent together. There were times I could not afford food for me but I still made sure he got fed. There were moments were I was very angry but still didn't show him. To the best of my abilities at least. My heart is totally broken. In addition to all my other life problems. I will never forget you my sweet Carlito. October 1st, the day of your death is marked in my calendar in bold colors. Until my last breath you will live in my heart and i will feel guilty for not doing more. RIP my love.
Carlito 2013-2018.


Posts: 640
What a beautifully written tale really... a tale of love. You did beautifully.

The thing that stands out for me is how you said that you did the best your could with the resources that you had. In that respect you did not cheat Carlito out of anything. Sometimes our resources limit us. But with the resources you had, you gave it your all. Not having the resources you wished you had is something that was out of your hands at that time. Calito (I love that name) fared well and better than a lot of other cats. He was one of the lucky ones.

You did all your could. And I know that because that is your testimony. You have 'testified' that you did all you could over the 4 years. There were times you didn't eat but Carlito did. I have been there done that. There were moments you were angry but you didn't show it. Been there done that.

When someone we love dies there are always factors over which we had no control. It isn't that we lost control, we never had it.  When you bake a cake you may have perfect control over putting all the ingredients in a bowl, putting the mix in a pan and the pain in the oven. But even then something can go wrong. The over temperature could be off without us knowing it and the cake can burn or not bake enough. We didn't know that. We had no control over it.

The same with Carlito. There were things going on that you had no control over. It isn't that you had control and failed to exercise it, you did not have control over those things ever. 

Emerald had a stroke. I had no control over that happening. How could I have worked with her and done everything to prevent her from having a stroke when I had no idea she was going to have a stroke? I loved her and still do. Her death in 2015 has been a staggering blow for me. Like you, I did all one person with my resources and temperament could do. I didn't skimp. So when she died, I was shocked. She died at home. At about 1am. The apt was pitch black except for a night light. I was dying inside as I sat her holding her dead body. I had never had a pet die in my presence. I was freaking out.

I am so sorry for your loss of Carlito.



Posts: 46
Yours is such a sad story.  Sad for you and for Carlito.  I can visualize all that you described, and how much it meant to you to have him adopt you as his friend.  Life can be so extremely cruel sometimes.  No matter if we think we are doing the right thing, or don't know what IS the right thing to do.  You can only do what you can do.  Look at it this way:  you gave Carlito the best years of his life.  He knew that.  Fate rules us all though, and if Fate decided it was time for him to be sick and die, there is often not much we can do about it.  You mentioned his belly was swollen - that could be from ascites, which is fluid collecting in his abdomen, and usually is really bad news - cancer, liver failure, and other horrible diseases that often are either uncurable or would take a lot of time, care, medications, and huge vet bills to try to fix, and sometimes they are just not fixable.  Just yesterday a friend of mine told me her cat seemed ill, and the next day he was obviously dying and they had to have him euthanized, and they are devastated.  I have had almost two dozen cats in my life for the last 50+ years, and they have all died of one thing or another, no matter what I or a vet did for them or did not do for them.  I hate it, it sucks, but that does seem to be the way life is.  I know this is probably no comfort, but really, you did good, you helped an innocent creature who needed it, and I know you feel guilt, and you wish you could have done something different, but we learn hard lessons the hard way, and even if we have learned something we can never really control what happens.  I know you are in agony over it all, but try to see The Big Picture - we are all just small players in the strange game of Life, and sometimes we win and sometimes we lose.  I'm trying to see things that way too.  It's hard, and I still cry nearly every day over the ones I have lost, and often blame myself, but so far it's the only reasonable way to deal with the grief, for me anyway.  I wish you peace.  You loved Carlito and he knew it and loved you.  

Posts: 7
grievingmom and RF thank you very much for your comments. They mean a lot to me and are very helpful. Thank you so much.

Posts: 7
I am writing this as an update. Its been a bit more than 2 weeks since his death and I have been doing a lot of research into trying to find out why he died this way. I was lucky enough to find a few pictures of him as well as reflect back on various situations that I went through with him and it seems as if I can come to a more definite conclusion about what happened. 
As it turns out he was indeed a male and suffered from ascites. I don't know what created the ascites but from my research on the possible causes of this disease as well as the fact that he had an appetite until the end I came to the conclusion that it was probably a result of either a raptured bladder or some parasitic infection. I am by no means an expert but I doubt that the ascites was due to some organ failure and/or cancer because he probably wouldn't have had an appetite then. 
Either way, this does not clear me of guilt. I blame myself for not having figured that out early enough. On the other hand, what good would that have done? As I mentioned, I live under very low income and even if I had taken him to the vet I still wouldn't be able to cover any of the medical bills. So that makes me feel even worse, not being able to afford to save him... 
Thank you all for listening and your support. It means very much to me.


Posts: 46
Yes, hard to know what was really going on.   I've had a couple of cats who suddenly seemed ill, even though the day before they seemed fine.  One recovered on his own, but the other died, and I never knew why.  Just like my friend's cat who suddenly became ill and was breathing with difficulty and was obviously dying, and had to be euthanized.  Maybe Carlito did ingest some poison, or if he was really a she, she might have had some serious problem with delivering the kittens.  But no matter what it was, there probably was little or nothing you might have been able to do to save Carlito at that point.  It is too bad, though, that whoever took the box did that.  But maybe they saw that he/she was dead (as seem likely to me), and took the box away to dispose of, or maybe if he/she was still alive (although seems unlikely) they took it to a vet, in which case the vet would have done whatever seemed reasonable.  I understand your agony at not knowing what happened - I know that must haunt you - I sure know that feeling myself.  But you did the best you could do then, and Carlito would understand, I'm pretty sure.  I think cats understand us better than we understand them.  

Posts: 7
RF thank you so much. Your post and grievingmom's have been godsend to me. I must have read them at least 10 times and will continue reading them cause they offer me some sort of comfort. God bless you both. Thank you.
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