Friday, May 1, 2009

Sylvester's Last Day . . . Went Out As A Champ!

As I gathered stuff from our house together for the Parma Heights Christian Academy's annual garage sale May 2 from 7 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., the memory of Sylvester's last day of May 5, 2007 came into my mind. I'll always connect this garage sale with a very bad day.

On a warm, sunny Saturday, the day of the garage sale on May 5, 2007, I stopped by dad's house early in the morning to take care of feeding his cats and clean their litter boxes. I always enjoyed doing this but something really crazy happened. Sweet Thing was by the door growling at Sylvester, the cat with feline aids. They could see each other because Harry had replaced the bottom half of the door with Plexiglas.

I was shocked when I felt Sylvester grab my leg as I was leaving and push right past me, chasing after Sweet Thing and attacking him! I was actually planning to bring them into my house the following week and keep Sylvester in our extra upstairs bedroom but with this happening, I just couldn't do it. I kept thinking that Sylvester could be attacking MY cats.

I yelled but, of course, that did no good at all so then since I couldn't get Sweet Thing, the one I really wanted to protect who was on the bottom, I grabbed Sylvester and just held him on the floor between my legs for a bit while he calmed down, which he did. I had a carrier close by and easily got him into it. I told him he just sealed his fate. I had no choice now but to have him put down. With a heavy heart, great sadness and tears in my eyes, I took him to the car.

It was amazing that I didn't get clawed up or bit when I broke up the fight, but I didn't. I believe this was God's way of giving me the courage I needed to make this very hard decision. Sylvester was normally a very laid back, affectionate cat. Of all the cats I knew, he was the only one who would crawl onto my lap and let me pet him and brush him for as long as I wanted. He was also my husband's favorite of my dad's cats because he let Gerard pet him nice and Gerard felt bad for him that he always had to be alone in that one room because he had the feline aids (little did I know that Sweet Thing had it too from being bit by Sylvester).

Sylvester and I went for a ride to the garage sale first to met Gerard's sister as I planned so I could give her something and left Sylvester in the car while I went in quick. I didn't stay and came back out within five minutes. I explained to Sylvester what was happening and congratulated him on winning the fight with Sweet Thing. I told him he would go out a champion and that he was really a nice cat but that he made a big mistake by fighting with Sweet Thing even though Sweet Thing was growling at him.

Then we went to the vet at the end of our street and they were very willing to kill Sylvester when I explained the circumstances. They were nice to me though and let me hold and pet him for quite some time. After they gave Sylvester the shot, it seemed like he just went to sleep and it was very peaceful. I was glad they let me stay with him to the end.

Just a week later, I also had to have Sweet Thing and Softie put down too. I was devastated because not only did I feel bad about not being able to find homes for the cats or a shelter to take them but I felt I really let my dad down. Tears are filling my eyes even now as I write about this painful experience two years later.

In October of that year I saw an article in a newspaper about a cat sanctuary that takes in stray cats including feral cats, older cats, and those with feline Aids to let them live out the rest of their lives in a house without cages until someone would adopt them. Oh, if I had only known about this place sooner. I became a monthly donor which I think dad would be happy about. I figure I couldn't save my dad's cats, but at least by donating to Caroline's Kids Pet Rescue monthly, I am helping to save other nice cats. Doing this relieves me of most of the guilt. Here is a video of this Cat House I took when I visited it for the first time:

If my dad had been in my place, I think he would have just let them go back to being strays but since Sylvester and Sweet Thing were not neutered and Softie was so small with parasites, it could have created even more problems. People tell me I did the right thing; I hope dad would agree.


Mary said...

I hate to have to make those decisions. My head knows I'm doing the right thing, but my heart doesn't understand. Thanks for sharing.

BeadedTail said...

What a tough decision to make. My heart always overrules my head it seems but yet I've never been faced with those circumstances.

Homestay Mama said...

Oh, hard thing to do! I had to put a cat down once--she was so sick I knew it was for her best. For any other reason, I'd have a terribly hard time doing it!

Mrs4444 said...

I'm sure your dad would be proud that you have helped to save so many cats.

Karen, author of "My Funny Dad, Harry" said...

Mary: Exactly!

Beaded Tail: They were quite unusual circumstances. It wasn't all my fault--dad should have at least had them neutered but he wouldn't hear of it.

Homestay Mama: I think this is the only bad thing about having pets, our heart breaks when the day comes we have to have them put down.

Mrs4444: Yes, I think he would.

Sandee said...

That was so very sad Karen. Big hug to you honey. I'd have been a mess. :)

Sue said...

That must have been a hard decision. I'm sorry you had to go through that. If the cats were suffering I think you did the right thing then.

Tina said...

That is such a sad experience.

Sherri said...

Yes, that had to be very difficult, but you spared the cats from having to go through suffering and causing other cats to suffer. I'm sure your dad really does understand.

Karen, author of "My Funny Dad, Harry" said...

Sue, Tina & Sherry: Thanks for your encouraging comments. It was extremely sad for me and very difficult but I just didn't see any other way.

Maria said...

I'm so sorry you had to go through this. You stayed with them in the end. Good for you.

I FINALLY acknowledged your award in my post this morning. I will finish this weekend. Thanks SO much. I think you are pretty awesome too :)

Karen, author of "My Funny Dad, Harry" said...

Maria: Yes, I did stay with them all to the end. It was the least I could do. I felt I at least owed them that much. Sweet Thing knew something was up. He managed to avoid the carrier for over an hour! Even though he was very upset, scared and angry, he hissed at me but never once tried to bite or claw me. I had a very special bond with that cat.

Anonymous said...

Again a good post. Thanks your friend

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