The Life of Darwin
Before I even had a chance to write about our new kitten on my blog, we had to say goodbye to him. I still want to write about him here because I want to always remember our short time with him and let his little memory live on.
Paul and I were thinking about getting a kitten and decided to go look at the kittens that were up for adoption one Saturday.
Sidebar: I've never really been around cats-a few of my sisters are allergic so I've always been a dog person. My old boss had a mean old cat (a Calico) that would hangout in our office and block the doorway so we would have to walk by her. She did not like us, and would hiss and yell at us any time we got near her. Needless to say, I never thought I'd want a cat, nor would did I think I would love one.
So, back to the adoption. Our local pet store sometimes has the animal shelter come with the cats and dogs that are up for adoption. In the parking lot we could look through the truck windows at the different cats they had, and picked one out that we wanted to hold. He and his brother were in a kennel together. Paul got the brother out first, and gave him to me to hold while he got the other one out, the one we liked.
Funny thing happened, the one we weren't initially looking at, (the one I was holding) was the one I instantly clicked with. He was so cuddly and snuggled right up to me, purring, and was loving every second of being petted under his chin. I was in disbelief because I found myself wanting to take him home already!
It didn't take long for us to decide. A few minutes later we walked out with our kitten and all the paperwork and supplies the shelter provided for us. We bought him a collar, some toys, and everything we needed for our new little guy.
We named him Darwin and he had our hearts from day one. He insisted on snuggling up right under our chins, curling up and sleeping right on us. He was constantly purring, and when he was sleepy he was always kneading, whether it was my neck, Paul's beard, or the blanket he was on. He would knead and knead for what seemed like forever. It was the cutest thing.
For someone who wasn't much a fan of cats, and for it being such an impromptu adoption, we really did end up with the perfect kitty. He gave me hope in kittens! He was our first pet together, our little baby. What we couldn't have known was that he was sick, and there was nothing we could do.
The first week or so he had a cold. His nose was runny and he was stuffed up. It was kinda cute hearing him mouth-breathe, but we got him antibiotics from the vet the very first day. After about a week we went back to the vet because the cold wasn't waring off. So we got a different antibiotic for him, and it seemed to be working.
Then after a few more days of his congestion and sneezing gone, we noticed his right eye had an issue. His inner eyelid wasn't opening, and was just staying on his eye, like he was sleepy or something. Except that it was all day and just the one eye. So back to vet we went. She thought it was just part of his cold, and his eye was inflamed, so we got ointment to put on his eye.
It didn't help, and it seemed to just get worse. Then we noticed he was sleeping more. A lot more. It progressed so quickly, but in a matter of a few days he was literally sleeping all day long. He always slept a lot, but he wasn't playing anymore, and he just didn't have any energy for anything.
Paul tried to get him up and when he saw that Darwin couldn't even lift his paw to walk he knew something was really wrong. He rushed him to the vet where they told him that it sounded like Darwin had FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis) which is a viral disease that affects their immune system and brain and is fatal. They took his blood and had it sent out, but it wouldn't be back until the next day. I was able to leave work and rush over to be there to help make the decision for what to do for that night.
We could take him home, knowing it might be our last night with him, or we could give him a night in the hospital and start him on really strong antibiotics in case it was something they could fight, so they could get started right away. He had lost weight, had a fever of 103°F, and we knew we couldn't take him home out of selfishness. We wanted him to be comfortable and feel better, no matter the outcome.
So we said goodnight to him, and they started him on an IV for the night. We went home with our empty kennel and living room full of kitty toys, and cried and cried. We knew the odds were slim. We were preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best.
The next day was torture waiting for the phone call. We knew what they were going to say, but we didn't want to admit it. That afternoon though, we got the call. Darwin tested positive for FIP and also leukemia.
We were lucky to have almost a whole day to come to terms with things, even though we were hoping he didn't have FIP, we were preparing ourselves. It wasn't easy, but the animal hospital was very sensitive to our situation and they made it really nice. We had a big room all to ourselves where they brought us Darwin, and left us until we were ready. Even though being in the hospital brought down his fever, and they were able to get him to eat twice, he looked drastically worse than the night before. He was dazed and confused, and his eye looked like he had gone blind in it. He recognized our voices though, and we spent all the time we needed to cuddle and kiss him until we were ready.
There was nothing that could be done for him, and he deserved to be comfortable and for his suffering to end.
Darwin brought so much love to our lives in such a short time. Just 4 weeks and he left us heartbroken. We have happy memories of him, and could never replace him. We decided that we would wait until after our wedding in June before we get another cat.
We couldn't bear to go home and see his toys knowing he was really gone. We went to my parents house to see my dog, knowing she would ease the pain. A few hours later, we got a phone call from the man that ran the shelter adoptions. He apparently does the cremations and saw our name and recognized it.
He was so sorry for what had happened, and told us about how rare that is for them. He was going to be at the pet store the next day with 4 new kittens, however, and offered to give us "first dibs" and no charge. We said we would think about it.
Here we had just said we would wait a few months, and then we were considering getting another kitty the next day. We thought a lot about it, and while we knew Darwin could never be replaced, we knew there were more kittens that needed homes and we had a home that needed a kitten.
We went the next day and left with Oliver.
Oliver is so different than Darwin, and I'm glad. Darwin will always be our special, perfect, kitty that we had together.
Oliver is rambunctious, energetic, and silly. He doesn't like to be held so much, and is only cuddly when he is sleepy, so I take full advantage of it when he does want to cuddle. He's curious and very smart. We've fallen in love with him, but it's a different love. Darwin will always have his own room in our hearts, and Oliver has opened a new one.