Thinking of Desmond this week

Yesterday marked two years since that awful day Desmond died. For those of you who don’t know the story, it was very sudden and completely unexpected. Up until that day, Desmond had been a healthy, happy cat. He would have turned 3 years old a few months from then and had never had any health issues before that day. He was a little more relaxed than the other two cats–opting to stay snuggled up in bed when everyone got up on a Saturday morning–but we never saw any reason to worry about something like that.

I’d spent that Saturday at home, working on an a freelance editing project, and my husband, Chris, had gone out for one of our friend’s birthdays. Around mid-afternoon, I got up to use the bathroom and found Desmond crouched on the tile floor, panting like a dog with his mouth open. He looked uncomfortable and was clearly having trouble breathing. I sat with him for a few minutes and tried to make him feel better. He climbed into the litter box and immediately relieved himself without his usual litter box dance and dig. I knew something was wrong, so I packed him up and took him to the vet immediately. Once there, they told me Desmond had a large amount of fluid in his lungs. The performed a procedure to remove as much as they could, but they told me they did not get all of it and it was likely the fluid would continue to cause labored breathing.

The vet told me it was difficult to determine exactly what had gone wrong without performing lots of tests, and even if we knew an exact cause, it was likely Desmond would be terminally ill for the rest of his life, however long that might be. She said her best guess was a previously-undetected heart defect that was causing his heart to fail. When your heart can’t deliver enough blood to the rest of the body, fluid begins to back up and spill into your lungs, causing congestive heart failure. She recommended euthanasia.


Bawling, I called Chris to tell him how suddenly I was being asked to make this horrible decision to euthanize our beloved Desmond, who had seemed completely fine just hours ago. He told me he trusted me to make the right decision. I asked to have some time alone with Desmond to decide. I looked into his eyes and listened to him as he struggled to breathe, and I knew I had to make the call. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. To this day, I still wonder if I made the right decision. Maybe I should have taken him home to have one final night with him? But maybe that would have been selfish on my part.

I still can’t believe it has been two years since that day. Even Jack and Ben seemed to mourn his loss. Weeks after we said goodbye, I convinced Chris we needed a new kitten to love–not to replace Desmond, but to just make us smile again. I wasn’t even really looking for another tuxedo–in fact, I had been in talks with two separate individuals who had kittens that needed homes. One of them was a cute little orange ginger tabby kitten. The other was white with gray markings. Both of those conversations fell through, and then I came across a picture of Hugo.

Two small kittens, one gray and one black and white

I knew I had to have him and I picked him up that very night. Hugo helped make us feel whole again after losing Desmond so suddenly, but we still feel his loss. I think about him every day. I’m not a religious person by any means, but I like to think maybe I will see him again someday.

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