Saturday, January 30, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Story of Oscar: Part 2

Thank you for your kind words about Oscar. For those of you who haven't read Part 1 of Oscar's Story, you can find it here.

I didn't intend to wait a week to post Part 2, nor did I intend to keep any of you in suspense. Sometimes life tends to get in the way of blogging.

So, back to Oscar's story...

Jessica and I didn't want to get rid of this cute little kitten we had been raising, but it was clear we couldn't keep him in the apartment. Our roommates were starting to reach their limit and were hinting at what kinds of "accidents" might occur should we happen to leave kitty (he was still unnamed at this time) home alone.

One day Jessica came to me and said that she had decided to give me (and Scott) the kitten as a wedding gift. She asked our roommates to please consider letting him stay with us for just a little longer, since I was moving out in only a few short weeks. They reluctantly agreed.

The next couple of weeks were filled with last minute wedding plans, exams, and pet lessons from Jessica. She helped me get him vaccinated, taught me how to train him (he was just starting to use kitty litter), the best kinds of food to feed him, and anything else she could think of.

During that time, he had been given a name, finally. It was actually Scott who suggested naming him Oscar and I thought it suited him nicely.

Soon enough it was time to load up all of my belongings into my navy blue Oldsmobile and leave Utah. Oscar was tucked safely in his cool purple cat carrier, and we were off to start a new life back in Ontario.

By the way, did I mention I also had a pet turtle named Chuckles? He was coming along for the big move too. The three of us drove up to Edmonton to pick up Scott, and then we all set off to drive home together.

I wish I could tell you that getting home from Edmonton was uneventful, but that would be a lie. Scott and I had an adventure that rivaled John Candy and Steve Martin's in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.

That, however, is another story for another day. Suffice it to say that we did eventually make it home safe with Oscar and Chuckles. Sadly, we had to abandon the Oldsmobile in Kenmare, North Dakota.

Oscar was a fun and playful kitten. We used to have this ledge in our house that he would run across and play games. He would bat at our hands or a ball, and was pretty coordinated.

He used to catch birds and mice and once in a while he would bring them back to us as a gift.

After he destroyed the living room furniture and curtains we decided to get his front claws removed.

This didn't stop him from catching birds, mice, or getting into fights with other cats in the neighbourhood. Oscar was definitely known as the alpha male around here. He wasn't scared of anyone. He was always a fighter.

One of the things I loved most about Oscar is how gentle he was with our kids. When our oldest daughter was born, someone suggested that we bring a hat home from the hospital for Oscar to smell before we brought Samantha home to meet him.

It must have worked because Oscar loved our babies from the minute they were born. We have a picture of him "guarding" Samantha while she sleeps in her carseat, just a few days old.

Oscar was pretty indifferent to other kids that came over. He would never hurt them, but he would usually run and hide in one of his favourite spots until they left.

But he loved our kids. He would let Nathan grab his tail, lay on top of him, tickle him, touch his paws and nose.

Oscar loved to come to the family room in the evenings and see if Scott was there so he could jump onto his lap and get some attention. The only time he came to my lap was when I was pregnant. Oscar loved laying on my pregnant belly. But as soon as I had the baby, he would go back to Scott's lap.

Before he got sick, he used to love going outside. Last summer, just before we left to go out West, we noticed that he hadn't been eating very well. By the time we got back from our trip he had stopped eating dry food altogether.

Soon after that we started to notice changes in his behaviour that were concerning. He rarely went outside. He spent entire days laying in one of his favourite spots. He loved to go on our bed, in our closet, under Samantha's bed, or under Clara's crib.

We took him into the vet, but after treating him for an infection, and then later pulling two of his teeth, he still wasn't improving. He was losing weight at an alarming rate, he wasn't eating, and he just seemed to be miserable all the time. He was vomiting constantly, and because he wasn't eating food, it was mostly bile that came up.

We had some more testing done and the news wasn't good. The vet broke the bad news that Oscar either was either fighting cancer or severe organ failure.

The rest of the story is too sad to write. After watching him suffer like he did, I'm glad that he is in a good place now.

It's kind of weird being able to take a glass of water to bed and not worry about Oscar knocking it over at night. And I miss not having cat food on the grocery list. And every time I don't have to move his water bowl when Clara plays in the kitchen, I miss him again.

I like to think that he had a great life with us and that he was happy here. He sure was loved. Not just by Scott and I and our children, but by neighbours, extended family, and friends. He was a very special cat and will be greatly missed and fondly remembered for years to come.

In loving memory of Oscar, March 13, 1999 - Jan 8, 2010.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Story of Oscar: Part 1

Some of you know that last week our family said good-bye to our cat, Oscar.

It was a bittersweet time. It's always hard to lose someone you love, and we were very sad to see him go. But we were comforted slightly in knowing that he would finally be free from the suffering he had endured at the end of his life.

I think it would be an appropriate time to share Oscar's story.

It started in March of 1999. I was going to University and Scott and I were 2 months away from getting married. My roommate, Jessica, who worked as a Vet Technician, came home one day with a tiny animal in her shirt pocket.

I almost had a hard time recognizing him as a kitten, as he was only three days old, his eyes weren't open yet, he didn't have a lot of fur, and frankly he looked more like a drowned rat.

Obviously I hadn't had much experience with baby animals up until that time. But that was about to change.

This poor kitten had been abandoned by his mother, as she was only about 9 months old when she gave birth. His only other sibling had not survived the abandonment. But Oscar was a fighter.

He came home with Jessica and the two of us started taking care of him right away. We made him a warm home out of a shoebox, a hot water bottle, some soft towels, and a couple stuffed animals.

We bottle fed him every two hours around the clock. This was no small feat, as we were both full time students, Jessica also worked quite a bit and I was planning to move back to Ontario just couple of weeks before our wedding.

But we set our alarm clocks and took turns getting up with him at night. We ran home to feed and check on him in-between classes and during lunch breaks. We coordinated schedules and made it work. We saved our pennies to pay for his food and supplies.

Within a few weeks it was apparent that he was growing, thriving, and starting to get really cute.

However, in the meantime, we found out that the apartment we were living in had a strict NO PETS rule. And even though Jessica and I could most likely have kept him a secret from the management under ordinary circumstances, at least for a while, we had another problem.

There were two other roommates living with us at the time who despised cats and were horrified to have one in the house. They were constantly giving us a hard time about the kitten and threatening to have him evicted.

More about Oscar in Part 2, coming soon....