I wasn’t looking for a cat the day I met Andre. I think I was looking for a car charger for my Blackberry in Best Buy. My husband, Chris, was next door at Petsmart buying dog bones, or at least that is what he was supposed to be doing. Instead, he came into Best Buy with a big smile on his face and no bag in his hands and said, “You have to see the kittens!” Kittens? It was odd that my husband was excited about baby cats as he was the dog person in our relationship.
“We have a cat already, and she’s old,” was my reply. Our cross-eyed Siamese, Kidder, was about fifteen at that time. I knew she would not appreciate a youngster.
“But they’re so cute!” It was like my husband had been drugged with some cat-loving potion. I just shook my head and followed him next door to Petsmart.
A lot of Petsmarts have cat adoption rooms, and this was the case in Indiana. The local ASPCA had several cats who needed homes. This room had a row of windows and was located right next to the dog food and treats. There were three levels of cats in cages. Chris led me to his favorite, all the way at the end of the row in a bottom cage.
My husband was interested in Andre’s brother, a much shyer version of the cat we would eventually adopt. Like Andre, he was a long-haired gray and white beauty, with a beautiful mane. Unlike Andre, he was incredibly shy. I crouched down to peer in this kitten’s bottom level cage. He scurried to the back corner. My husband wanted to pet him and get to know him, so the Petsmart person took him out. The kitten immediately ran under the cages.
I sat on the cold floor and tried to lure the cat out. He moved farther away from me. I looked up at my husband, who was standing next to Andre’s cage, and said, “This cat will never make it in our house. We have two dogs and an old cranky cat.”
That’s when Andre, one level up from his brother and a couple of cages over, started grabbing my husband’s shirt. My husband moved a little, but Andre kept pushing his paw out and trying to grab my husband. It was like he was saying, “Forget about my brother; take me!”
“Now that one stands a chance. He doesn’t seem to be afraid of anything,” I said, and I was right.
When Chris and I got Andre home, we set him up in the guest bathroom with a baby gate. This way the dogs could see him and he could see them, but they were still apart. I figured that Andre wouldn’t want to jump the gate, and that our old cat Kidder would not jump in. I was wrong on the first part.
We were barely home for ten minutes when Andre jumped the gate and walked right up to our Pit Bull/Black Lab, Mario. Mario was used to cats, but the only time he had ever seen a fluffy tail like Andre’s was on a squirrel. Mario hated squirrels. So, he lunged at Andre. Andre was not impressed or afraid. He got on his hind feet and directed eight pounds of kitten fury in Mario’s face. Andre boxed Mario’s face until he winced and backed away. From that moment on, Andre was the boss.
Chris and I soon learned that Andre hated medical interventions more than he hated large dogs. Andre’s first vet visit at 8 months old went great. Everyone in the vet’s office loved him. After all, he was a handsome boy with smooth, fluffy fur. He was a lover, just like he was at home. Andre snuggled with the vet, the assistants, and even the receptionist. He seemed to love people. For some reason, his loveable behavior at the vet’s office changed the next year when we brought him in for a checkup.
As soon as I put his carrier on the examining table and opened the door, Andre hissed and opened his mouth like a snake with unhinged jaws. Every time the doctor laid a hand on him, he tried to bite the doctor or the assistant who was holding him. Finally, I helped two vet assistants hold him down. Andre was insane, and totally not the sweet boy he was at home. Every annual visit was worse than the last. I decided that since Andre was an indoor only cat, he would only see the vet if he was sick. So, of course this is the cat that developed colon issues at age five.
When I first noticed Andre straining in the litter box, I thought he had the dreaded urinary blockage that male cats are prone to. After a few vet visits, it was discovered that he was constipated. Because of his behavior, Andre had to be sedated for every visit. He would not tolerate a simple physical exam, never mind the ultrasounds and x-rays needed to diagnose his severe constipation. And let’s not even talk about the enemas. A few times, my husband, my son and I had to give Andre glycerin suppositories at home when the Miralax and Cisapride, the go to regimen for this level of constipation, was not working. We learned to cover him with a beach towel and work quickly so we could avoid battle scars.
When Andre turned eight, his megacolon was formally diagnosed. During this time, Andre could no longer defecate on his own. The medication was simply not working. The only thing that would work was the glycerin suppositories, and even they didn’t work all of the time. Our only other choice was major colon surgery. This would involve multiple visits to the specialist, in addition to the surgery itself. As I may have mentioned, Andre did not tolerate medical procedures well. The recovery from this surgery would be brutal, and being sedated multiple times in a short amount of time would be hard on him. Chris and I made the very tough decision to end Andre’s suffering.
My husband was with Andre in the end. I preferred to keep my last memory of hugging Andre in the dining room before putting him in the crate for his final trip to the vet. I told him how much I loved him, and how sorry I was to be sending him off to the place he hated most. Andre snuggled me, like he had his whole life. He put his paws around my neck and squeezed. According to Chris, Andre fought the vet and his staff up until his last breath. He fought the injection that was supposed to calm him down, and he fought the final injection that ended his life. Andre came into our lives like a lion, and he went out the same way.