A long time ago, back in 2008, I was a fresh-faced second lieutenant reporting to her first duty station. I found an apartment to live in and made sure that I was allowed to get a pet. I wanted a kitten. I grew up in a house with cats and I love them. They’re a great companion and yet are still independent enough to do their own thing during the work day. I went to the stray facility on base and this runt of a kitten with a running nose and eye boogers climbed up my boot and declared herself mine.
I brought Colby home that day and for while it was just me and her. My girl.
When I met Hubs, he knew nothing about cats. But Colby was like “yo dude, play with the ribbon with me and then I’ll lay on your lap.” Game over. He loved me and her. We got 2 more cats, got married, and started having kids. Through that, Colby was there as the HBIC. Completely the Alpha cat to our 2 boys.
Once we started bring babies home, she was always the first one to investigate and decided that while the tiny humans were loud and occasionally stinky, they were chill and we settled in as a family.
Colby had been feeling sick for a while, having trouble breathing and so Hubs took her to the vet. The dude said she had asthma and was put on medication. Once the medicine was gone, she seemed to get worse. Last Sunday, I woke up and she was in the bedroom, struggling to breathe. She was foaming at the mouth and using her entire body to breathe. Hubs took her to an emergency vet and they immediately took her in the back. She was put into an oxygen tent and we waited for the vet to call with an update. On Monday, we were able to visit her and she was miserable. She still could not breathe. The vet was giving her steroids and antibiotics but nothing was helping. When they took an x-ray, they found a huge mass on her lungs and concluded that it was most likely fatal cancer.
We gave her another 24 hours to see if the medication would work but it didn’t. The vet said she was not going to get better and we would not be able to bring her home anytime soon. We made the decision to put her to sleep. Living in an oxygen tent is no way to live. Especially since the oxygen tent didn’t help as much as it should have. We drove to the vet to hug her and say our good-byes. The kids thanked her for being a great cat and I said good-bye to my girl. She was the first pet I’ve ever had as a grown up person and I thought she would around for another 10 years or so. But I guess life had other plans.
Now our house is so empty. It’s crazy how full it seemed with 3 cats and 3 kids and without Colby, there just seems to be something missing. I keep thinking I see her in the corner of my eye and that’s hard. We’re leaving our girl in Hawaii. When we moved here, I never even imagined that. Have you ever had to say good-bye to a pet? How did you deal with it?