Monday, October 5, 2009

RIP George

George "Cartman" Thorpe
199? - 2009

May your grass grow lush and green
and your string be plentiful.

My beloved cat George passed away on October 2, 2009. He was between 15 and 18 years old. I adopted George as an adult cat from the Seattle Animal Shelter in 2002. George was everything I was looking for in my first cat - orange, fluffy, male, neutered, adult, and litter box trained. I saw George on the shelter's online listing of available pets and called the shelter right away to see if he was still available as I figured he was a very desirable type of cat. I was told that yes he was there but he was only available for foster as he had a severe URI (upper respiratory infection) and that he was crashing and they would likely euthanize him the next day. I rushed into Seattle and without even seeing him, was handed a kitty crate with him inside by a staff member and given his paperwork for fostering. I would not be able to formally adopt George until he was healthy. I got home, opened up the crate George cautiously crept out into the living room.

George was my first cat, so not only was I going into new territory with a species I didn't know much about, it was a new species that was terribly, terribly sick. I quickly learned how to medicate a cat and feed a sick cat back to health.

George became healthy and he became mine. After he was fully recovered from the URI, I took him to a cat clinic for a full teeth cleaning as his teeth were very messed up. He had to have 3 extractions and it was found he also had some broken teeth too. I was beginning to wonder if George was older than the 8 years the shelter had listed him as.

I began to learn more about cats in general and what made George the cat so special. I found that he had an addiction to string - obsessing over to eat it like spaghetti. He wasn't a catnip type of cat but found Friskies Treats and Whisker Lickin's to be the best things on the planet. He would meow heartily for his treats in a "feed me now" demanding tone. I loved it.

George's shelter paperwork indicated that he shouldn't go to a home that had kids, dogs or other cats. This was all fine back in 2002 - I had no other animals and George was king of the castle. In 2003 I got married and George got a new last name. George knew Jerill but when Jerill didn't leave the house anymore, George would just stare as me with that look of "Who is this guy?"
And then in November 2003, Lucky the Maltese Shih Tzu puppy came home. George was pissed, without a doubt he was pissed off at me, Jerill and the new puppy. But it wasn't like he was trying to kill the puppy, nor did he act out by being a bad cat. He just continued to have a pissed off look on his face. I learned quickly that while George could tolerate other animals in the house, he truly hated all living creatures except for me. George and I had a special bond and would have conversations regularly in the morning as I got ready for work.

After Lucky came GiGi the kitten. We had tried fostering a boy kitten prior to GiGi but George was not fond of him at all (I got that boy kitten adopted to a coworker and he ended up being called Spike and now weighs 15lbs or so - Maine Coon!). George took to GiGi instantly. They would sit on the stairs and clean each other and cuddle. I credit George for making GiGi such a wonderful cat today- she never claws or scratches us, she does not scratch furniture and she has very good house manners.

After GiGi came a few foster dogs over the winters - one of those fosters in particular we ended up keeping (that would be Mattie). We now had four animals in one small, yardless condo. George was king of the upstairs and the dogs were relegated to the downstairs. In 2006, we moved to larger home and I could tell George loved his new home - lots of windows and sunlight to lie in.

George had a few close calls in his life, one being the String Incident of 2004. George had eaten a yard length of 1/4 inch velvet material. Of course we didn't know this until he became violently ill and x-rays confirmed he had a blockage. We elected to have the vet go ahead with surgery to remove the super-string. He recovered quickly from the surgery and our house then became a "string free zone."

Since the string incident, George led a peaceful life, spending his days curled up in the laundry basket, on my computer chair or on our bed.

In the last couple months of George's life, he began to lose interest in eating Friskies Treats, then began to lose interest in eating kibble. He stopped cleaning himself up. He started losing weight. He began sleeping in different places in the house - not hiding but just sleeping in different places. He would always greet me on the stairs when I'd come home from work and would appear fine but I realize now he was just acting because he didn't want to leave the house and go to the vet. In the last weeks he no longer wanted to eat wheat grass. I knew then something was terribly wrong. On September 30, 2009, a trip to the vet and a blood and urine test revealed that George's kidneys were failing him, among other smaller problems he also had like tumors and lung problems. Jerill and I realized that George was no longer enjoying his life and we did not want him to be in pain or feel "hung over" anymore from the toxins his kidneys and liver were not able to process and elminate. George was humanely euthanized in Snoqualmie, WA in the morning hours of October 2, 2009.

I always thought my kitty would live forever. I think everyone thinks this about their favorite cat or dog. Although George's memory will live forever, and I'm sure his orange buff colored hair will forever be on our fleece coats, I am deeply saddened that he will no longer be in my life in the physical sense. George lived a rich, full, life and his first 8-10 years of life will always remain a mystery to us. I do feel that George's time with me and my family - 7+ years - was exactly what he wanted in life. George was a full time indoor kitty who was free to do as he pleased as long as he was okay with getting squeezed every once in awhile.

We elected to have a personal cremation for George, meaning we will receive an urn with his ashes therein. George will rest upon a windowsill forever in the sunshine, away from the dogs, just as he lived his life with us.

I miss you George.

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