My first cat was a beautiful tortoise shell named Boots. Boots had adopted us shortly after we were married. We were with her while she recovered from being shot by, (pardon me) an idiot with a pellet gun. To show her gratitude, she stuck by my husband’s side while he was on his journey through cancer treatments.
Toward the end of his “detour,” “a bump in the road,” she would accompany my husband back and forth to the bathroom during his bouts of vomiting and dry heaves, as the last round of chemo drugs went through his system. Sometimes she would sit quietly outside the door, sometimes she would go and sit next to him in the bathroom. She would wait for him to wash his face, sometimes even watching him from the counter top. She would escort him back to bed, jumping up gently beside him, always laying next to his left calf like a little bundled up “turkey.” I felt like she wanted to say to him, “Can I get you anything?” before she settled down for another 20 minute nap.
When chemo ended, Desert Storm began. She was his couch buddy. He recovered from the poison of cancer therapy by being an “Arm Chair General” of Shock and Awe. Most of the time Boots would lay next to him, sometimes performing “kitty paw massage” on an arm, leg or whatever was available. When something important was happening, she would sit up at attention, her ears swiveling back and forth while she listened to him explain the latest news from the front lines.
She waited in the window at home for us, while we waited for news from the oncologist. I could swear she was smiling when we walked in the front door, somehow she already knew the good news.
Many years later, we knew that she had reached the time when we had to make a decision for her. She was in pain and could not eat. We gathered around her as she slipped away. It was horribly painful, but we wouldn’t have let her go in any other way. It was only right to be by her side.