Mr. Featherbottom: 2009-2013

As previously reported in Facebook, because that’s where breaking news happens, Mr. Featherbottom passed away on Thursday after a very brief illness. He was approximately 4 years only. He was only with me for a little more than 9 months. I had Aremid for 16 years. I’ve had Zellouisa for 16 years. Herman is 12 going on 13. I figured he would be my insurance policy against losing all my pets at once. His run in the household was shockingly brief.

I am only being honest to say that I resented him at times for his aloofness and seeming lacking of affection. He was the prototypical cat in ways, whereas I was used to cats who clearly adored me and gave back to me as much as I gave to them. But I also realized that Mr. F couldn’t help how he had been treated for the first 3 years of his life. He didn’t dole out much love and would keep to himself, but he was also extremely trusting and would not hesitate to make himself completely vulnerable by falling asleep splayed out on his back.

It may have been for the best that he played the role he did. He crowded out Zellouisa for food and raised Herman’s anxiety level by blocking his path, but, generally, he did not angle for attention and didn’t mind at all that I gave most of mine to H & Z.

He never curled up in bed with me or cuddled on the couch or cuddled at all. It wasn’t his thing. Maybe that would have changed if he had ever become the prime pet, maybe not. He was a beloved member of my family, even if I never had much cause to say “good boy”. I called him “big boy” a lot, but it was said with affection…mostly. I would kid with him that he would just take and take and take. This was true, but I came to accept that he was here to simply be a cat.

He was a big boy, indeed. I struggled to strike the right balance between getting geriatric Zellouisa enough calories and keeping Mr. F’s obesity in check. Pancreatitis can be caused by obesity, and Mr. F hadn’t been to the vet since I took him home last September. But his weight had stabilized months ago, and, considering he had seemed fine as recently as last weekend, my vet thinks this acute onset was caused by something out of my control. Had his diet contributed to “the worst case of pancreatitis” she had ever seen, it would have been because he had eaten a tub of lard, she said. It was a freak thing. Fine one day. Ravaged by disease the next.

He had been noticeably ill on Tuesday. I brought him to my regular vet on Wednesday. An ultrasound early Thursday confirmed the suspicion of pancreatitis, and it was as bad as it could be.

I shall note that I did not have to have him put to sleep. The alternative would have been to send him to the 24-hour veterinary hospital, like where Herman had been last week for a couple of days. Except Mr. F would have had to have been there for 5-7 days, being tube-fed, and in constant discomfort. He had already been in tremendous pain for 48 hours. And…to be perfectly blunt, the financial cost would’ve been staggering. IF I had not just spent a staggering amount on Herman’s surgery…IF I had had Mr. F for years…IF we had established the same strong bond I had with my other pets…maybe I would have done whatever it took to save him. BUT…it was also likely, given the severity of his condition, that, having survived this trauma, he would have been left with massive organ damage and constant health problems. I don’t have to justify my decision, but I want to be honest about my thought process. I could have tried for a different outcome. On so many levels, though, it just wasn’t worth it.

I actually contemplated not going out to the vet when Mr. F was put down. He wouldn’t care, I thought. But I quickly changed my mind. I owed him that. And he was actually more alert than I suspected he would be. He let me give him a belly rub for awhile, so I think he was aware of my presence. But eventually he did move away, and he eventually turned his back on me, which was typical of him. I don’t begrudge him that. Unlike with Aremid, I didn’t stay to watch the end. I knew that by the time I left the parking lot, he’d already be in an irreversible state and gone within a few minutes.

Mr. Featherbottom deserves a more loving tribute than what I’ve given him so far. Let’s see…he loved belly rubs. He loved to eat. He’d crowd out Zellouisa, but it was amusing to watch. He would get his rear in the way of the food I was trying to put in the bowl. He’d zig-zag between my legs as I’d walk, and I stepped on him a few times as a result.

It was a week or two after I got him before I realized that the adorable ridiculously high pitched squeeks he emitted were signs of unhappiness. He expressed discomfort with mousy noises, not growls or whails. He didn’t particularly enjoy being picked up, but I’d do it just to hear these sounds.

So he was adorable…all the time. He way eye candy if you enjoy watching cute cats. Sitting in a loaf with his big butt or splayed out on the floor in a squashed position. Curled up asleep. Stretched out on his side. Perfectly content on his back, full belly exposed…

Mr. Featherbottom took full advantage of the storm door I had put in back in December, as he’d lie down in front of it and gaze outside even know he never expressed any interest in going outside. I’m not sure if he had ever set foot in the outdoors. He would play kind of a game of chicken with Herman where I would come back home with Herman after a walk, and it was entertaining to see which one would give way first. Sometimes Herman would get to the door and turn around in fear. Other times, Mr. Featherbottom would bolt.

I wish we had more time. I was so curious if our relationship would evolve, what he might be like in a few years when he was the prime pet. I’m not going to know. Poor guy. I hope he was happy here.

Mr. F


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