Farewell to Pinky
My beautiful, fluffy, flame-point little boy.
He had been easy to name, just a few days after he was born that November morning. His little ears and nose had stayed pink while his brother's and sisters' ears and noses had turned a dark brown. We didn't know if he was a boy at the time but it seemed fitting to me no matter what he was. The name Pinky had been a family name over the years, seeing that my maiden name was Pinkham. My dad had been called Pink by my grandmother as he grew up, and my brother had been called Pinky by his friends during high school so I liked the idea of carrying on the family name.
The kittens' soft little mews melted my heart as I watched them learn to find their feet and stumble around inside the closet where their mother had made her cozy nest. Their sweet little faces would peer up at me when I would pop my head in to see how they were doing, even though they still couldn't see since their eyes were closed. We did lose one of them shortly after they had been born and I wanted to make sure the others were doing okay since I didn't want to lose another one.
It was about three weeks or so later when I started to notice something strange. I began to find little Pinky in odd places around the bedroom, far away from the nest of other kittens. They were not quite old enough to stray that far from "home" but I figured he might be the more adventurous type who wanted to see what the big world was about. I always quickly scooped him up, placing him back with the other ones. His mother, Kia, always licked him vigorously, but later on I would find him under the bed or dresser again. I grew concerned because it appeared that he was not eating. He seemed to be getting weaker by the day. I tried giving him a bottle but he refused to drink it. I decided to take him to the vet to see what was going on. They found him very dehydrated so they gave him a hydration treatment to help give him a boost. They also said he had an odd sickness that attacked his nervous system and it was affecting his brain and his ability to walk. They weren't sure if he was going to make it but they gave me a little tube of high protein gel that I could feed him, if he would take it.
He had reached a a scary point and was close to the brink of death. I was determined to do whatever I needed to do to help this little guy survive. With the extra hydration in his body, he began to feel hungry again. It did not take him long to discover that he liked the protein gel and he would quickly lick it off my hand looking for more. He also started taking a bottle and every two hours I faithfully fed him milk and gave him the gel as much as I could in between. After he had eaten I would set him either in a basket where he would curl up in a blanket or sometimes I placed him back in his nest with his brothers and sisters and he would cuddle with them. Kia never let him stay long though and it broke my heart to see her reject him. I did everything in my power to be his surrogate mother and be there when he needed me.
There was one last scary morning when I woke up to find him turning in circles near the closet door. I thought it was the end. Tears streamed down my face as I got down on my hands and knees beside him.
"Oh, Pinky," I said. "Be strong! Don't give up! Keep fighting. I want you to live!"
And live he did.
It was a very exciting day when we decided that we would keep him. Our older cat, Tiger, had not been doing very well and we knew he did not have much more time on this earth. Plus I had worked so hard to bring Pinky from the brink of death that we needed to keep him. I had connected with his heart and did not like the idea of having him leave our home. And besides, how could we sell him to someone knowing the issues he had? The lack of nourishment had caused him to lose some brain cells and he was not totally normal. He was our special kitty now. So, that night, after Joe and I had discussed the idea of keeping Pinky, Joe announced to the kids who were all tucked into bed, " We are going to keep Pinky! He gets to stay with us!"
I can still hear the cheers of excitement from the children as their feet thundered down the hall as they ran to hug Pinky in happy delight. They didn't care that he was different. He was our kitty and they loved him.
Pinky lived a great life. He was so beautiful, with those big sky blue eyes and his long, white soft-like-ermine fur. He became quite attached to Caleb, who loved carrying him around his neck like a little lamb. I am totally convinced that Pinky had some ragdoll in him because the things he let Caleb do to him confounded my mind. And if Pinky did not like something, he would complain and get mad but it only took a minute for his brain to reset and suddenly all was right in the world for him again.
Kia, his mother, was a bit confused as to why her son was still around though. She had tried over and over again to kick him out of the nest because of his sickness, yet he was still here. Even when the other healthy ones were gone, Pinky still remained in her territory. She often hissed at him, letting him know she didn't want anything to do with him, but there were times when I would find him curled up with his mother, and with Maysie, our much older cat who lived in the house too.
Some people did not like Pinky though, especially as he grew older. Like I said, he did have some strange things about him, like his love of soft pillows. It was a bit awkward at times but there were times when he was really sweet. He always slept at my feet every night and I loved seeing his little face peering out the front door when I would drive into the driveway.
Pinky was also popular at school during Caleb's high school years. The little mew that Pinky always made became a common call among the high schoolers and he was even mentioned in the valedictorian's speech during graduation. Pinky had become famous!
It was during the last year that I noticed Pinky was seeming to lose weight. He had always been thin, and oftentimes he struggled with his food, eating his dry food with his head cocked to the side as he tried to chew the hard pieces. He loved to eat the meat I was cooking during dinner, sitting near my feet so he could get some cooked chicken or hamburger that I would drop for him to snack on. He was my kitchen buddy and I enjoyed his company.
I took him for his yearly vet visit and they informed me that he had the start of kidney failure. I got a very disturbing feeling inside me that day, and I had a feeling that this would be the last time I would take him to the vet. It made me very sad to think about. They said to put him on a special cat food diet, low in phosphorous and high in protein. I tried to get him to eat it but he much preferred real meat over that canned stuff. I didn't blame him. Real meat was much better in my opinion.
I noticed that he stopped coming into the kitchen. He wasn't coming in at all anymore for any food. He did have water dishes all over the house and he constantly ran from one to the other, lapping up the water over the course of the day. He always walked away with a little drip on his chin which we called Pinky's drip lip. It was a rare thing to see his chin dry. He often cried, deep throated Siamese cries as he sat over his water. We could not figure out why he was crying and it would wrench my heart every night I heard it. I tried giving him fresh water, making it go as high in the bowl as it possibly could. As time wore on the cries grew weaker as he grew weaker. I grew desperate. He had to eat something! I tried giving him tuna water, which he sampled but didn't take much. I wanted him to fight. I wanted him to live like he had when he was a kitten. He was only twelve so he had more time, didn't he?
But we all have our time. This week we had to make that tough decision and ask ourselves if it was Pinky's time. What was the best thing for him? I didn't want to see him suffer. He was keeping more to himself now, sitting in the middle of my winter village, looking like a small snow covered mountain, with sad, cloudy eyes. He no longer came onto our bed to sleep beside me. He no longer woke Joe up at 4 am to get him up to feed him anymore. He had grown so weak that even the slightest cough knocked him over. It was very hard to watch.
Last night, Wednesday evening, I was working downstairs at my desk when I heard a noise. It was Pinky. He had come down and tried to get up on the desk but didn't have enough strength to jump up. I lifted him up and he sat close by me as I worked. I noticed he was shivering so I placed him on my lap, with the heater close by so it would warm his cold bones. He stayed for a few minutes enjoying my company then went back on the desk and sat in a basket close by. He had a foul odor coming from him and I knew he was saying goodbye. He had come down one more time to thank me for trying my best to give him the best life that he could have. He was saying it was okay to let him go. And my heart broke.
After that, he hid in our shower and then spent the night in the cat tree, curled up in a little ball. I did not think he was going to make it to see the morning, but there he was, still hanging on to one little thread of life.
Joe took him to the vet today. Everyone had said their goodbyes last night but it was not easy for Joe to make that drive. We have lost a lot of animals over the course of our marriage, but this was by far the hardest. He was the one we had connected with from the day of his birth. As I walked around collecting all his water dishes, tears poured down my cheeks. I will miss that little boy. I'll miss seeing that little gallop of his as he ran down the hall...feeling him walk over me at 4 in the morning....seeing Caleb give him walking lessons in the living room... the list goes on. But it was time. We had done our best. He wasn't suffering anymore. And he will forever be in my heart.
When you choose to take in a pet, you are choosing to love that animal forever, no matter what oddities or strange quirks they may have. It is a sacrifice of sorts, giving up yourself to love that animal friend through better or worse. And I will continue to love our kitties that we still have but I will never forget those blue eyes and that lovely face of the beauty we called Pinky.❤