Requiem for Rikki

Seven days ago I wrote the note below to my cat. Two days later, I noticed his ears and gums were yellow. The next day we went to the vet, and the day after we learned that Rikki’s liver was failing him. On Friday, two days ago, a veterinarian came to my apartment and helped me end the long life of my best friend.

Thank you for letting me know, Rikki. I miss you.

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How long have we been together? Outside of that unfortunate break when I was married to that guy, I mean. Not sure, because I don’t have records going back that far, and my memory is as faulty as ever. But I want to say somewhere around 17 years.

 You got old quickly. This time last year you were diabetic, but you were still kind of fat. Sometime in the last three or four months you’ve grown very skinny and very frail. I feel your bones when I pet you, and when I pick you up and hold you it’s like holding a small, soft, furry bag with sticks inside.

I keep looking for signs that you’re not having fun anymore, but I don’t really know what I’m looking for. You still love to eat…more than ever, you love to eat. And you can still jump up on things – especially if you think you’ll get food when you do. But you look tired, and old, and sometimes when I watch you breathe and it seems like you’re breathing too fast, I wonder if there’s something painful or uncomfortable going on inside of you.

I wish you could talk.

I’ve cried at the thought of losing you too many times to count, and I’m crying now thinking of it again, as you lay to my left looking tired and annoyed,and Alex sits on my right, licking my arm and perhaps wondering when I’m going to look into his eyes the way that I look into yours. I tell myself not to keep thinking of death…to enjoy your life while we have it.

Anyway, I still love the way you feel when I hold you, even though there’s not as much you to hold. I’m learning to love the feel of nothing but your fur, skin, and bones. As long as these things contain the vital stuff that still keeps you alive so that I can stare into those big dinner plate eyes from time to time and truly feel like we are connecting in some way that I’ll never be able to describe to anyone, or even understand myself…I’ll take it. As long as you’re OK with it. Please do let me know when you’re not OK with it anymore.

6 thoughts on “Requiem for Rikki

    1. And thank you, Jonann, for taking such good care of him over the years. I know Alex is grateful that you’re stopping by during this crazy week for us. As am I!

  1. Thank you for sharing your inner thoughts and feelings in such a brave way with all of us. I lost my best friend, Jennifer, and never stop thinking about her. I know how it feels to lose a best friend! the picture of Rikki is beautiful and the one you use for your new company is an honor to him and how beautiful he was. Rest in peace Rikki! From someone who just knew you from afar! Ariel

    1. Ariel – thank you for these sweet comments. I recall you speaking of Jennifer, and her name has always stuck with me. Rikki will indeed remain the face of Northwest Pets DC as long as we’re in business!

    1. Thank you, Sharyn. I know you had to deal with this recently yourself when you lost Angus. Your comments recently regarding your experience wit the vet were very helpful to me in determining my course of action…thank you.

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