Monday, March 11, 2013

RIP Rocket

Rocket's favorite spot
If you read my book IT STARTED WITH A CRUSH, the Maine Coon in that story, Manchester aka Manny, was based on my beloved Rocket.
The family's cat, an overweight Maine Coon with a tail that looked more like a raccoon's than a feline's, rubbed against the front door. His green eyed gaze met Lucy's. 
Rocket died yesterday morning on our drive to the emergency vet. It was finally time, we'd made the decision we hadn't want to make, but Rocket decided when to cross the Rainbow Bridge himself.

Years ago, the cat had electrocuted himself by chewing an a lamp's power cord and nearly died. Then  a few weeks later eaten a poisonous spider and nearly died again. But he survived. I guess part of me thought he was stronger than his liver cancer.

On Saturday, I attended my local RWA chapter's Spring Workshop with Donald Maass. That morning I'd seriously considered staying home with Rocket, but my daughter told me she'd take care of him. And she did. She gave him his meds and managed to get him to eat lunch. But he meowed a lot and followed her around like a lost puppy. She held him for hours. She thought he missed me.

Rocket loved Christmas trees
As soon as I got home, I heard the meows. I picked him up. The meowing stopped. But he wouldn't eat. Something that had been going on since Thursday night and had warranted a vet visit on Friday. He seemed restless, unable to get comfortable. He wanted to be with the dogs, who licked and loved on him. That night, I put him to bed between hubby and I, in the spot he'd claimed as his own the past weeks, and rubbed him.

A few hours later, hubby woke me. He said he found Rocket on landing. It looked like he'd fallen off a box where he liked to sit. Hubby thought it was time for Rocket to go to the vet and be put down. I didn't want to believe it. We'd been to the vet on Friday. I was sure he had a little more time. That this was just a blip like the others he'd get over.

In bed, I held Rocket in my arms, his head where he could feel my heart beating. He stopped meowing. He stared up at me, at peace. I don't know how long we were like that. I talked to him and loved on him and cried. I realized my hubby was right. It was time.

While I got dressed, hubby stayed with Rocket. Our sweet kitty could barely walk. We didn't want him to be alone for one minute in case he tried to get up and fell. At one point, Hubby told me to come quick. We thought we were going to lose Rocket right then. His breathing got really light, but he was still with us, as if he'd passed out for a moment. I gave him more love, pets and kisses. I told him all the things I'd been telling him for the past week, how wonderful he was, how much he was loved, how much joy he brought me, how sorry I was I couldn't make him better.

Rocket has never been a fan of car rides. He hates being put in the cat carrier. The last thing I wanted was for him was to be upset. I woke up Mackenna to see if she'd go with me since hubby had to get Rose to a swim meet that morning.

She was tired, but got up and was ready in a few short minutes. I phoned the animal hospital to let them know we were on our way then we wrapped him up in a blanket. I held him one last time, talking to him, rubbing him and kissing him, then handed him off to Mackenna.

He meowed in the minivan, tried to get out of the blanket then finally settled. We told him it wouldn't be long. That he would feel better soon. And he was very loved.

Mackenna held him close, cuddling him. As we hit the freeway, she thought he had died, but I had her take a closer look. His breathing was shallow as if he'd passed out again. I reached back and touched his head. I thought he would hang on a little longer.

But a few minutes later, he was gone.

The rest of the drive was a blur, a mix of tears and sadness and guilt that I'd waited to long and he'd suffered too much.

When we arrived at the vet, I took Rocket from Mackenna. They led us to a room so we could have a little time with him. I hadn't planned on him dying on the way. I was expecting to be the one holding him, not my daughter. I also realized it was exact anniversary of the death of our foster kitty, Crystal, last year

Needless to say, yesterday was not a good day. I'm not sure today will be much better. But I know Rocket's not in pain and I hope that the almost 16 years he was with us were good ones for him. They were for me.

Rocket has been part of my life since June of 1997. He was a tiny, flea-covered kitten when I brought him home. I named him Rocket because I used to be a propulsion engineer. At my first job out of college, I worked on a rocket engine cycle. I thought it would be a cool name for a cat. It was perfect for my Rocket. He also had other names. He became my fat cat, my big boy, my handsome guy, my sentry. My sister used to laugh at how fat he was. I always countered he wasn't fat, he was big-boned with a lot of fur!

He was never far from me. He slept at my side until Smalls passed, then took her spot at my head. He was quite a character with a strong personality. His high pitched meow didn't quite match his stature. And his legs seemed too short for his big body. But he was the most beautiful cat to me.

I went back over my blog and realized Rocket had garnished a few posts over the years:

Trapped                            Feeding Time               • Happy Anniversary To Me
Cookies, Cats and Dogs   • Kitty Lost and Found    • Craft Kitty         • Ninja Kitty
Kitty in Trouble                • Imitating the Dog          • Cat Toys           • My Side of the Bed

A Bigger Bed                   • Cats and Dog                  • Pain                 • Gold! Silver! Again! 


At the end of February when I wrote the Wish post, I wished for Rocket to keep eating. And he did for awhile. I'm so grateful for the wonderful years we had with him, but especially the extra time at the end.

People claim cats are aloof or uncaring, but Rocket wasn't. If one of the kids cried, he meowed and went to their sides. Mine, too.

And today, I have to tell you about Spirit and Yoda, who along with Smalls and Rocket, were our original four cats until fosters and feline friends started coming in and out of our lives as needed.

Spirit normally sticks close to me, but today I've been licked and headbutted and nudged. She will not leave me alone at all. Yoda normally likes to run and wander through the house and chase Beauty. But not today. He's been within eyesight of me all day long. Neither Spirit and Yoda have left me since I got home from the vet this morning. We even had to carry Yoda to his spot to eat dinner, something that is unheard of. I have know idea how they know something is different today, but they do and it's been a huge comfort.

RIP Rocket. We love you and  miss you so much, big boy!