The past couple of days have felt surreal, where time seems melt in lumpy globs, like burning wax. Apollo is gone. While I may not have been as close to her as Ron, the loss is still painful.
The steroid didn’t work. We tried feeding her num nums (wet food) on Friday and Saturday. Apollo sniffed at it and started dry-heave. This happened during all accounts when food was presented to her. There was a complete 180-degree change in her behavior from when I had her to the vet on Thursday to the weekend. Ron made an appointment for 8am Monday morning to have her put to sleep.
Sunday I was volunteering at START II all morning. Ron was working. When I got home, I found Apollo on the couch. She was cold and barely moving. Bloody bile stains surrounded her on the towels I put down on the couch for protection. Morpheus vomited like this once the morning we put him to sleep. It was scary to see it then. By the pattern of the stains, it looked like Apollo vomited bloody bile at least four times. A chill came over me. I knew she wouldn’t last until her appointment in the morning. I also knew that if she wasn’t put to sleep that evening, her death would be excruciating. I’ve seen cats suffer from liver failure and starvation. No matter what way you look at it, death is never glamorous or beautiful. It’s a messy business, a gaping maw of abysmal suffering.
I spoke to Ron and we agreed we would bring her back to the emergency vet when he was finished with work. I spent about 8 hours tending to Apollo. At some point she tried to jump off the couch to go for a drink of water. Her legs gave out from beneath her. Fatigue incapacitated her movements. I filled a shallow bowl and brought it to the couch. Apollo rested her cheek on the side of the bowl, but did not drink. When she moved her head back to the couch, the white porcelain was stained reddish-brown. I picked her up and let her lay on my chest. I almost fell asleep petting her, but she threw up more bloody bile. I changed the towels twice so either of us wouldn’t be sitting in the stuff and used a damp washcloth to wipe vomit off her paws, chin, and chest. She was throwing up all over herself.
By the time we brought her to the emergency vet, she was hardly moving. I held it together pretty well up until this point. I had a couple of short crying outbursts in private over the weekend. However, the gravity of the situation weighed on me differently at the vet, knowing we were minutes away from putting our 15-year-old friend to sleep. I lost it.
Ron and I had as much time as we needed to say our goodbyes. I had only experienced the “process” of putting a loved one to sleep through our primary vet. I wasn’t sure what to expect in the ER. Luckily, everyone operated with the level of compassion and understanding that I was used to from Animal General. Ron held her and I pet her head while she was administered the medicines. We received clay paw prints from the ER that evening. Her ashes should arrive in two weeks. All of our cats have had private cremation.
Last night I was plugging in my cell phone in the bedroom. I had just responded to a text and I saw a small black cat walk toward me. When I bent down to pet him, there wasn’t a cat there. I looked under the bed, and nothing. I could have sworn that Orlox was just there. I looked in the living room to find him a deep sleep on the perch of the cat condo. It was obvious he was there the entire time. We don’t have any other black cats.
Ron got home from work. I was still standing in the bedroom with my hand covering my open mouth, near hysterics. When I reiterated the experience to him, he said it was probably Apollo and I should feel honored she paid me a visit. I can neither confirm nor deny that shadowy feline figure was Apollo. To entertain the possibility it was, well, that makes me feel a smidge better about our dearly departed.