Two weeks ago, my cat, Alfie, fell off the bed. Actually, I’m being imprecise, because he never quite made it up. He jumped, missed, and fell on the IKEA-wood platform base that supports my mattress. He yowled and slunk away in what I presumed was embarrassment.
Soon, his daily routine changed. He started sleeping more, staying in the same place all day. The couch where he’d looked out the window into our backyard remained empty. We went days without seeing him. Finally, we found him in the litter box, sitting in two days of excrement.
The vet examined him and prescribed prednisone for what she believed was a hurt back. Alfie walked around her office, just like normal. For a short time, I thought his health was improving, but then he stopped using the litter. Days passed with no bowel movements. A return trip to the vet, this time with an X-ray, showed severe nerve damage and fluid in the chest cavity. The prognosis was bleak. We decided to put him to sleep.
I remember the day we got Alfie, how he, of all the cats at the rescue, wanted to play with us. Then, when we got him home, he was so scared that he wouldn’t leave the carrier until two in the morning, when he woke us up. For the only time in our lives, Kristy and I were happy to get up in darkest night to wave ribbons in the air.
Every night after that, Alfie hopped into bed and crawled into my armpit, where he would purr until I fell asleep. If I was staying up too late, he would stand at the top of the stairs and meow until I called it a night.
I was with him as he drifted off for the last time, rubbing his neck and watching his eyes go blank. He was soft and warm, as he always had been, his chin tucked in, like he was getting comfortable for a good night’s sleep. I’m glad he’s at rest. I’m not sure how I’ll sleep tonight without his contented rumbling by my chest, knowing I will never hear it again.