It’s always sad when a friend’s cat dies. My heart hurts for what I know they’re about to go through as they mourn their loss. We’ve all been there, and even though everyone grieves in their own unique way, we all know how hard it is. And when the cat is one I’ve come to know and love, I feel the loss, too.
I first met Hi-Dee about three years ago. She shared her home with a dear friend whose home I frequently visit, so I came to know her pretty well. Hi-Dee was part of a group of feral cats that my friend had been feeding for several years. She was one of the last litter of kittens of that group before they were all spayed and neutered. That was twelve years ago. Over the years, the cats disappeared one by one, but Hi-Dee stuck around. My friend fed her, but she was never able to touch her.
Hi-Dee had hit the jackpot when she chose to stay at my friend’s house. There’s a shed on the property where she could find shelter from the elements. She had a crate with blankets, and on cold days and nights, my friend not only gave her a heated blanket, she also provided a space heater.
But my friend still felt bad for her, being outside in all sorts of weather, and she kept trying to get her to come inside. One day, about three years ago, Hi-Dee decided that she was ready. She started spending time inside. She was still very skittish, especially with strangers. She hid in strange places, which is how she got her name, chosen by one of my friend’s granddaughters.
Hi-Dee had clearly chosen my friend as her human. Eventually, she sat next to my friend while she was watching TV. She slept at the foot of the bed. She found favorite places around the house to hang out in during the day, and didn’t spend quite as much time outside.
I have many fond memories of Hi-Dee joining us while we were lounging by my friend’s beautiful pool. Her presence made these wonderful, relaxing times even better.
A couple of weeks ago, Hi-Dee stopped being interested in her food. She started losing weight. Hi-Dee’s temperament had always made it impossible to get her to a vet. The one time a house call vet came for a check up, she busted out of the small room my friend had her confined in, straight through a screen door, and didn’t come home for two days. But Hi-Dee was losing weight at an alarming rate, so my friend called the vet. It was a sign of just how sick Hi-Dee was that the vet was able to examine her and get blood without so much as a meow of protest out of her.
He called with bad news on Monday. Hi-Dee was severely anemic, several other blood values were also of grave concern. He recommended taking her to an emergency vet immediately. I met my friend there. The news was not good. At a minimum, Hi-Dee would have needed a transfusion. The only way to identify the underlying cause of the anemia would be through a number of tests ranging from x-rays to ultrasound to additional bloodwork.
My friend made the agonizingly difficult decision to take Hi-Dee home to spend a few more hours with her before having the vet come back to gently ease her out of this life. It’s the same decision I would have made. I don’t believe that putting a cat with Hi-Dee’s spirit and temperament through extensive diagnostics and treatment, especially given the high uncertainty of a positive outcome, would have been the right choice for her.
I had the honor of being present during Hi-Dee’s final moments. She passed away on the deck that she loved to hang out on so much, with the song of birds in her ears, a gentle breeze on her face, and my friend’s loving arms around her as her final memory.
Rest easy, sweet girl. I will miss you.