Lightning was part of a litter from our neighbor’s grandson. He brought the cat over to show us.
The kitten had five toes on each foot, which I though was interesting. Then he climbed up on my lap and fell asleep. Those probably decided me that we should get him.
But he played me for a sucker: he never slept on my lap ever again.
He was an orange tiger, looking a bit like a small lion. Somewhat timid, but would get aggressive toward any cat in his territory (i.e., whatever he could see out the window).
When he was two, the vet found the heart murmur; officially Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. It got worse when he was three, and we went to a cardiologist, who put him on medicine. By my calculations, I pilled him over 15,000 times; he actually was pretty good about it. Oh, he objected, and tried to spit things out, but didn’t scratch or bite and let his mouth be pried open.
When he was young, he was a terror, running around the house at full blast (hence his name). He also was a leaper: the refrigerator was routine, but I still have no idea how he got up on the curtain rods. He rarely used his claws as a weapon, preferring to bite. He also loved to sneak outside.
Once he gave me a nasty bite: we had been away for a few days and ran outside. When I grabbed him, he chomped down on my arm, probably mad at me. But a few minutes later, he was purring as though he were apologizing.
He slowed down over time, but was in pretty good shape until last fall, when he developed a thyroid condition. Medicine helped, but he was losing weight that wasn’t related to the thyroid. He was down to 8 1/2 pounds today, less than half his top weight and down five pounds since November.
He was not a cuddly cat, but did like sleeping in our bed with us.
The last few days were tough. The funny thing is that he suddenly was keen to go outside again. On Saturday, he sat on the front mat in the sun for about 20 minutes in 15 degree weather.
And when we got the diagnosis, we knew there was only one option. While they were getting the shots, he wanted to get down from the examination table (it was the most active he’d been in days), so we let him down. He lay on the floor, which is where they gave him the sedative. He calmed down and we were able to say goodbye before the vet returned. It was actually the first time either of us had had a pet put to sleep, and they were very kind to us.
On the way out, I checked the wall to see his name among the oldest cats in the practice.