It’s been a tough holiday for me. My kitty Rhu (Rhuarc, if you want to get technical) became ill a couple of weeks ago. He stopped eating and eventually masses were found in his chest. My parents, to whom I am grateful for many things in my life, took him to the vet while Rob and I were in New York City for our birthdays. Ultrasound found the masses and fluid in his chest. They took him to a 24 hour care vet hospital, where his chest was drained and he was watched. Mom and Dad took care of him until we got back. Analysis of the fluid wasn’t conclusive but it was a definite possibility that the masses were lymphoma. Chemo and surgery were mentioned as possible courses. I wasn’t willing to entertain either, since they would most likely be extremely unpleasant for him and only extend his life by a little bit. Not to mention the fact that they could easily take up all of my life savings. I hate that part of it, but that’s how it is.
So, after talking to my vet, I started him on steroids, which can shrink masses like the ones in his chest. But either the masses were something else or he was too far gone, because he continued to decline, eating little and showing labored breathing. I made the decision to have him put to sleep and we took him in the day after Christmas. Rhu had his own plans, though, and passed away on his own on the examination table before they could administer the dose. A few twitches and then he went still. My little guy was gone.
Rhu was a light in my life for the thirteen years that I had him. He was born stray on the island of Maui, Hawaii. I lived there for about seven months in 2000 and adopted him from the shelter there. I remember looking in the cage with all the kittens in it. He was the only orange one. I took him out (which you weren’t supposed to do but I didn’t know that) and walked around a bit holding him in my arms. He just calmly gazed up at me with his baby blue eyes. I was his. As I filled out the paperwork to adopt him, someone else came up and requested him. But I got there first, ha! The shelter staff said he was about 8 weeks old and might be a true blue-eyed cat. I took him home the next day. Alas, his eyes turned greenish-gold within a few days. I didn’t care.
Rhu grew bigger and fluffier. You would never have guessed the kitten I brought home would turn out to be a long-haired cat, but that’s what he was. I hated Hawaii, though, and moved back to the mainland before too long. Rhu, of course, came with me. I had left my cat Amys, adopted when I was just finishing grad school, with my family in Maryland, due to the restrictions on bringing animals into Hawaii. Rhu and Amys were introduced for the first time at my parents’ house in the fall of 2000. There was hissing involved. It wasn’t pretty, but they eventually learned to tolerate each other. The two are named after married characters in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, though I think of them as brother and sister. Ahem.
The two kitties and I moved to Boston, New York City, and then ended up back in Maryland. We all got older and here we are. Amys is fourteen, Rhu was thirteen. Except for some thyroid issues that are controlled by medication, she’s doing great. Rhu wasn’t so fortunate. He had upper respiratory issues in the last few years. This latest illness hit him hard and quick.
I’ll miss him terribly. He slept with his head on my pillow nearly every night. He was the only cat I’d ever seen that loved bananas.
Rest in peace, little guy.