We had to put Socrates to sleep yesterday. The growth that was obstructing his lower intestine was technically operable, but the operation would have involved some difficult and painful surgery, including breaking the poor animal’s pelvis in order to get at whatever was there. After much painful deliberation (especially because the seemingly normal cat we were visiting for the last time didn’t seem to be in any pain — yet), we decided that it would be cruel to put him through a procedure that would be challenging for a healthy young cat, and more importantly, would leave him with poor urinary function. With his poor heart and kidneys, he might not even have survived the operation.
Socrates was one of two cats that we got from a neighborhood litter shortly before we moved into our house. The litter parents brought the whole litter over to our house so that we could choose among them. One little cat snuggled on my knee, where he stayed for nearly the whole visit. The other cat (who would be called Steffi after one of Pam’s relatives) was chosen mainly because she seemed to be his playmate.
I liked to name cats with S’s in their names because I had heard that their hearing is well-attuned to the hissing of the ‘S’. As I said the previous entry, we really should have called him ‘Francis’ like the Saint, and his chattering sounds at the birds were a real delight to Pam.
While Steffi was a typical cat, aloof, quick to use her claws and fiercely loyal to us (and distrustful of strangers) Socrates was anything but that. As a neighbor (and sometimes cat-sitter) once put it: That cat’s a dog! Outgoing and vocal, Socrates was a constant companion to Pam and me, seeing us through good times and bad. When his sister died in 2001, he helped comfort us, and adjusted to being an ‘only child’ surprisingly well. He did give us a couple scares, and perhaps even lost one of his nine lives the time that he ended up under the floor for about 3 hours (in dreadful 90-degree heat) in the heating/air conditioning ductwork when a careless installer left the opening in the utility room uncovered. He was our soft, purring partner on the sofa for countless movies and episodes of ‘The Sopranos’, and never seemed to scold us when we returned from trips. He came down the stairs every day (again, like a dog), when I came home from work. Toward the end, we had to start calling him ‘Limpy’, because our poor arthritic kitty was having trouble negotiating all of those flights. He did get picky and needy as he grew older, demanding that he get brushed by Pam after breakfast, and refusing to drink any water that wasn’t coming out of the bathtub tap.
His absence leaves a gaping hole in our lives, and our once-homey cocoon of a townhouse now feels, as Pam says ‘Like a Hotel Room’.
A last anecdote that sums it up:
At the animal hospital where he spent his final few days, he was pretty much normal, so on what turned out to be his last night alive, they had a ‘slow’ night. Since he was fine and they had time, they let him out to roam the waiting room and front desk area. I’m told that he was his usual charming and affectionate self, rubbing against all these strange people and purring. The tech said they all ‘bonded’ with him, and apparently there were many tears by the staff before we said our final good-byes. As I always said, he was the cat that everybody loved, even if they didn’t like cats.
So, to my little buddy, my little gray friend, muffin-head, bright-eyes, button, you’ll always be the cat who loved me back, not just as another acquaintance, but as a special friend, and that I’ll always cherish.