A paw-sitively hard good-bye

Alfie
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A paw-sitively hard good-bye

Alfie

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I had him for almost exactly a year. Although my family loved him dearly, he was my cat. I picked him out, I raised him and I loved him the most.

We got him from a family friend who had just had a litter of kittens. The last day of school my freshman year my parents surprised me by taking me to their house and letting me pick out one. I sat down among the little balls of fluff, teetering and waddling nervously around me. One gray ball of fluff specifically nudged my hand softly, and I held him to my face. There was no question after that. He was my boy. My Alfie.

A week after bringing him home, I was redecorating and repainting my room. Alfie needed to be watched since he was so tiny, so I let him stay with me. I noticed he was sniffing around the bucket of paint, and thought nothing of it until I heard several terrified “MEOWS” coming from the can….He was blue for months. I attempted giving him a bath and after that traumatic experience, I assumed he would hate me and his new home. Rest assured, he didn’t.

One gray ball of fluff specifically nudged my hand softly, and I held him to my face.”

— Katelyn Spivey

The helpless kitten soon grew into an adult cat who loved to drink from the sink and my water cup, snuggle in bed in the mornings and play with our dog. He was a farm cat that spent nights outside eating rabbits and his days in the house napping the time away. We have had cats before, and I am more of a cat person than a dog person, but he was by far the favorite of all of my family members.

When we first adopted Alfie, my dad told me to not be sad if he didn’t seem affectionate towards me, because cats don’t get attached to people. That was a big fat lie. He may have won our hearts, but we won his, too. In the mornings before I was awake for school, he would push and shove at my door until it opened and hop into bed with me. He would stay under the covers, either purring or asleep, until I got into the shower. Then, he would patiently wait at the door until I got out. When I would walk around doing chores or just meandering through the house, he would follow until I stopped in a room. He would lay down and sleep, or lay down and watch me until it was time to go to another room.

Within four days though, everything changed, and everything happened at once. He started limping horribly. He would not put any weight on his back left leg. My parents looked him over and told me he could’ve hurt his leg, but cat bones mend quickly and we can expect him to get hurt a little because he’s a farm cat. The limping lasted for three days, and he never seemed to get better. When he was outside, we could tell he wanted to run and jump and play like normal, but it hurt too much.

Within four days though, everything changed, and everything happened at once.”

— Katelyn Spivey, 11

The third morning when he still wasn’t better, we took him to the vet. I was not expecting bad news. I assumed everything would turn out fine. They would give him some medicine, and we would take some home for him, his leg would heal in a few weeks, and everything would be fine. The vet recommended an x-ray because he was in so much pain, so they gave him so anesthesia, and we were told he would be ready at 5:00. We were terrified when we received a call at 2:30, only 30 minutes after we had left.

I only heard my mom’s side of the conversation, which was not good. She hung up, and with tears in her eyes told me the vet said his femur was completely snapped and there was no way to fix it. I never knew what heartbreak was until then.

Amputation was an option, but that would be selfish. Alfie loved to run. He loved to catch birds. He loved to be outside in the field. How could he do that if he only had three legs? We saw how unhappy he was with his four legs, one being hurt. I wanted to be selfish. I wanted to keep my boy here, but then I remembered the longing in his eyes to pounce on the leaves in the yard.

By that point, I was hysterical. We made it back to the vet and told them we would take him home for the night. We needed one last night with him to say goodbye. He was still very drugged and asleep from the anesthesia, but we made sure he was comfortable on the ride home. When we got home, we set up his bed and lots of blankets in the living room. I camped out there next to him for the rest of the evening, just trying to soak up every last second of him. Eventually though, we had to go to bed. As gently as we could, we moved his throne of blankets into my room. My mom and I made pallets by him and slept by him. We didn’t want him to doubt for one second that he was cared for and deeply loved.

I never knew what heartbreak was until then.”

— Katelyn Spivey, 11

When morning came, I forgot what the day had in store. I told myself, “Katelyn, you can’t cry yet. You’ve only just woken up.” I don’t follow other people’s advice often, but I really don’t follow my own. I saw him asleep on the couch and the tears started up again. We had 30 minutes until it was time to leave, so I did the only thing that calms me down when I am crying and/or freaking out. I lay next to my cat, and I scratch his back and behind his ears.

Getting into the car was hard, but getting out was hell. I knew I wouldn’t walk out with him once we went in. My mom opened the door for me since we brought a big fluffy blanket for him to lay on in the car. She checked us in while I stood in the doorway, unable to move, weeping. I wanted to be selfish and keep him because I loved him, but I had to do this because I loved him. We sat down on the bench as people gave us sentimental glances from across the room.

In about five minutes they called us into the room. You can guess what happened from there. Living through it was the worst experience of my life, so I don’t think I can relive it.

As much as I miss him and as much as I loved him, I do not regret letting him go. I do not wish I had never adopted him, and I wouldn’t trade the memories he gave me for anything. He was a part of my family. My heart aches for him, and my greedy self still wishes for one more hour, day or minute, but it makes me feel better to know that crazy cat is up in cat heaven walking normally, drinking from sinks and water cups and snuggling in someone’s lap.

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