Likes: Likes people, being loved, eating, sitting in the window, playing, when momma combs him, exploring outside, stalking lil' sis.
Pet-Peeves: When hoomans don't get up early enough, not being able to go outside, insulin injections and bg ear poking, riding in the car, most other cats. He has a big dislike of human feet - if I touch, "pet" or go near him with my foot, he just hates it...??
Favorite Toy: Anything really. A snake stuffed with catnip, cords and a leash, shadows, most anything...
Favorite Nap Spot: Various chairs, outside under bushes, at night near my head, my lap.
Favorite Food: Most anything. He's never been picky and always had a big appetite. He likes cat food and many human foods. He loves sliced turkey, loves any canned and raw food. I have to watch him because he wants to get into everything...
Skills: Chasing shadows, sleeping on the pillow near my head, being super sweet, waking Momma up in the morning, biting my nose in the morning when he is hanging out on my chest, and also he loves to lick my ear lobes.
Arrival Story: Gumpy was a stray kitten. He appeared in our garage in 1994 at about 6 weeks old. His sister Kali (at the Bridge now) showed up a day or two before, and then Gump appeared. I think these kittens were dumped and wandering around in the woods near our house for a few days. I was in my mid-twenties at the time and happened to be living at my parent's home for a while. I believe some neighbors dumped these kittens. Gump showing up in my life was a gift. He is the most loving and special cat. The first night I found him, he slept with me and he was almost frantic and desperate for love and connection. He was frantically licking my ears ("nursing") and face and wouldn't stop. He wouldn't leave me alone. I finally put the covers over my head and he started digging frantically at the covers to get near me. He still enjoys licking and sucking my ear lobes at age 16. MOL. He also was ravenously hungry when I found him and I think being without food affected him. He has a great appetite and is not a picky boy....
I named him when I saw the movie Forrest Gump, which came out the year he was born. I didn't take enough time to name him, and might have named him something different at this point. But he is my Gumpy boy. He is just the most sweet, gentle, adorable, peaceful little being.
Gump was diagnosed with diabetes in fall of 2006. I learned a lot about feline nutrition and health after this diagnosis. He was on insulin for about 3 years, getting two and sometimes three injections a day. Though his insulin needs kept decreasing over time and in the winter/spring of 2010 he started staying in normal BG numbers on his own and it continued. He actually went into remission and ceased needing insulin and has remained in remission. I still test his BG several times a week, if not everyday. Gumpy got sick in late 2010 and was diagnosed with pancreatitis, but he seems to be doing well when he's not having a flare-up. Many diabetic kitties also have chronic pancreatitis which may flare up from time to time. Gumpy has also developed kidney disease. His kidney values had been going up little by little, but by January 2012 he clearly had some pretty serious kidney issues and he also developed high blood pressure (which can be controlled with meds). He's slowed way down, but he's hanging tough and has been stable with fluids, low phosphorus food, some supplements and meds. His appetite is still good which is so, so, so important.
Gump is my soul kitty, he's been by my side for the last 18 years. There's so much to say...but he's very loving, gentle, affectionate, sensitive, smart and fun too.
I wanted to thank everyone for all the kindness and support in dealing with the loss of my sweet, precious, beautiful boy. Thank you for everything - all the gifts, stars, rosies, pawmails, poems, photos, comments and also for diary entries.
I will be working on thank yous, but I’ve just been so physically and emotionally drained that I haven’t had a chance to send out any thank yous. I am very grateful for everything. For every comment, every kind message and gift. Having this place to share our fur babies and their lives - the joy, the fun and the pain - is a beautiful thing. It doesn’t change the loss, but it so helps knowing others understand and care. I also feel grateful to have been able to share my sweet boy with others.
Some purrsonal thank yous:
I wanted to thank Tasha and angel QT for posting very touching and caring diaries which helped ease my pain. I need to repost the writing/poem Tasha posted called "You Have Chosen Tears". So beautiful and healing.
Thank you to Sammie & Lady’s dad for the pawmails and for the lovely poems. Those poems are very comforting to read. Thank you for the caring pawmails from QT and her mom, Kaci’s mom, Natasha, Bella & Ruffy, Tully, and Monster. Thank you so much for caring and taking the time to pawmail. Thank you to Calvin and his caring Mawmee for getting wings so quickly for Gumpy. Thank you to Tigger’s mom for reaching out to me when she was dealing with so much loss herself. Thank you to Angel Alfie's mom Eva for being there that day through email and phone and trying to help me. Thank you to Tully’s mom for always caring about my tuxie boy (and me). Thank you to Lacey & Alex for posting about what was happening and for your understanding. Thank you to Annabelle for writing a diary for Gumpy. Thank you all!! I may have missed others - please let me know and I’m sorry if I did.
Thank you to Zach, Zoe & family and the GreenPaws group for the gift of the two lovely Angel's Breath Achillea plants! I’ve planted them in an area to keep them more protected through the winter, though I may end up moving them once they get established. Gumpy's Angel's Breath plants by the garden fairy. What a kind, thoughtful thing to do in memory of my boy who loved being outside. I look forward to watching them grow and bloom with abundant white flowers. Thank you!!
I also just received another wonderful, special gift in the mail. Look at this lovely and wonderful custom throw/blanket!. I cried when I opened this. Such a unique and caring thing to do for us! I love all the photos that you picked! I will cherish this and will be enjoying it so much! So wonderful to have those photos right there and in such a large scale, too. Thank you all!!
Thank you also for taking the time to comment in our diary. All of those comments mean so much and have helped me. I’m feeling a little better, but I'm still crying often about not having Gumpy physically with me and still questioning some things. The hurt will never be fully gone because he was so much to me. Even though intellectually I knew that cats don’t really have long life spans and I knew his little body had dealt with a lot which was weakening him, part of me thought he was my strong, sweet boy who had overcome so much and I thought I’d have him with me longer. Part of me thought maybe, maybe I could have him with me much longer. Maybe he could overcome more. But of course he couldn’t. I’ll write more....
I have what’s left of him back with us now. I found a nice container, but I feel numb when I look at it. It’s not him, but I’m glad ‘he’ is back here...in a some form, I guess.
Thank you also for all of the fun balloon and pirate gifties. I’m sorry we just haven’t been up to sending out those light and happy gifties. But thank you for thinking of us. I’m always grateful for that. We’ll get back to doing more of this.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for ALL the kindness, love and support. Thank you for caring and being our friends. Everything is appreciated. I’m sure my little angel boy is also grateful for the kindness you’ve shown us.
P.S. I’m sorry if I’ve left off anything or anyone.
I kept re-reading what I wrote in that last diary and it sounds as if I feel at peace with my beloved boy being gone because I talked about it being peaceful. I felt some peace because of the vet being able to come to my house and because it wasn’t an awful death, but it doesn’t change the awful reality and the deep loss, and I’m really not at peace about this.
I'm now reeling and trying to figure it all out. Did I let him go too soon? Should I have given more time for the meds for anemia to work? They can make a big difference. It feels like it was too fast. Maybe I should have given myself more time that day so I could settle with the decision and have a little more time to say goodbye and be with my baby. I should have taken him to the vet sooner! Weeks ago. I didn’t because he was eating well and seemed to be holding steady. I should have known he needed to be closely monitored at this critical time! I'm angry at the vet for not being more proactive. What if I would have started him on the anemia meds sooner? I made mistakes with his kidney disease all along and I wasn’t aggressive soon enough in starting his treatments. I feel like I was always behind in learning about this disease. Why did I mess around trying to find a different vet, more holistic? He needed stability. Was there something I was giving him, some supplement that I didn’t look into enough, that maybe had some toxic effect? Was I not careful enough and was he damaged from something, something when he went outside (which he loved), or some toxins when I was working on my house to get it ready to sell? Was moving the stress which pushed his body over the edge? I could have done that better and maybe kept him at my parents for a while. Did he miss his home so much that it set him into decline?
There is so much that’s haunting me right now.
I know I should feel fortunate to have had him for 18 years. But why did he deteriorate so quickly this year and the last few months? I could have done more for him. And there were mistakes. And did I do the right thing on Wednesday??? Was it rushed or was it a clear decision?
It’s horribly hard not to have the presence of the love he brought to every moment for 18 years. It hurts so much and it’s worse when I think of what I could have done differently. I walk in the door and look over to his little beds and expect to see him look up at me. I look around at all his food, meds and supplements. The toys. I just miss that irreplaceable loving presence. I miss that sweet face, those paws, that soft beautiful fur. The purrs and licks. I miss how he would look at me, I miss how lately he would stand in the kitchen near my legs as if to just be close to me. I miss holding him even though he had gotten so bony and fragile. I miss how he licked and sucked on my ear lobes, which he had done since day one. I miss his little click, click, click of him walking across wood floors. He was just that once in a lifetime cat. Love wrapped in fur is what I called him.
Part of me feels bad for even thinking this, because he had a good life for 18 years and he didn’t have some other awful situation or die in an awful way, and had a better life than many could hope fur. But this is what I’m going through right now. And it can be just as awful if maybe I let him go too soon, as going through an awful death experience.
I wrote more detailing what I feel I did wrong, what mistakes I made, and questioning what happened at the the end. I might post it, for ME (and for him) to get my feelings out. I have some concern posting this, but I need to put this out there since it appears to me that I wrote about being at peace with this and I’m really not.
What will help me know I didn’t let him go too soon? How can I let go of my guilt over the mistakes I made with his care? Maybe this is part of the grieving process. Bargaining is what I think it's called. It feels like more than just a phase of a process though.
Gumpy left me yesterday afternoon, at home in my arms with the help of our vet. I wish I could have had him for much longer, but his little body had had enough with all he has dealt with the past 6 years. He fought for a while, but the time came and we needed to help him. It was deeply sad and my tears haven’t stopped, but it ended up being peaceful as well.
The last couple weeks he was getting more lethargic, but he was eating well so I thought he was holding steady. I had so hoped that his kidney values would remain stable or possibly improve a little with the treatments we were doing. But with the additional issue with his kidneys that happened recently I wasn’t sure.
I didn’t think he was doing too badly because his appetite was still good (he was actually eating until the day before he passed, though he could hardly stand). But by this past weekend he started going downhill. Gumpy had some arthritis and challenges walking for the last year or so, but by Saturday his back legs were so weak he couldn’t get into the litter box. The next day, Sunday, his front legs were also weak and he could hardly walk; he was stumbling. From this point I was carrying him into the litter box and by Monday not a lot was coming out. I made an appointment with my vet for Tuesday and I was thinking that maybe the leg weakness was anemia or low potassium which happens with CKD kitties, and maybe it was treatable.
I took him to the vet on Tuesday and she thought the weakness was probably more related to his CKD in general, but they looked at some of his blood values in-house and he was becoming more anemic. We started him on Epogen for anemia and I had hope that he could improve, but we also needed to see what the rest of the bloodwork looked like. Maybe he could start walking again and I could also do more for his arthritis.
But he was worse when he got home from the vet on Tuesday afternoon. Now he wasn’t really interested in food. He ate a little sliced turkey, but not any cat food. I thought maybe it was a reaction to the medication?
That last night was really difficult. He wasn’t doing well, and I had him close to me on one of his kitty beds/cushions on the bed. I was very scared that he would pass there during the night and I didn’t want to be asleep while it happened. I stayed awake for a while and then I kept waking up to check on him and it was distressing because he kept wanting to get up and move, but he couldn’t. He let out a few little meows of frustration or pain and I was scared he would die right there. I kept telling him to hold on until the morning and we’d help him.
I pretty much knew by yesterday morning. He wouldn’t eat his regular food, though he did eat a little more sliced turkey which he always loved. I still needed to hear from the vet about the rest of his bloodwork. She called me yesterday about 12:45pm and all his kidney values were way up. His body was shutting down. I had asked her about it the day before, and while on the phone she told me she had a block of time in the afternoon and she and a vet tech could come to my house to help him pass. I had to process this huge decision, but I called her back and told her we needed to do this today.
He was already leaving and we needed to help him the rest of the way.
I called my dad who is retired and he came over. Also my mom who will be retired soon was able to come from work.
I showered my precious little boy with love for an hour and a half. I told him I loved him forever. I thanked him for being here for me for 18 years and told him he was the most wonderful cat I could ever imagine. That he was such a blessing and a gift. I told him how I’d miss him so much, but that he would be at peace now. I prayed that he would be gently carried into his transition. I told him to take my love with him. I told him this and much more.
Dr. Taylor is a sweet vet which is a one reason I like her. She took her time and was gentle and caring and let me know what was happening. We sedated him, and then he left gently at home in my arms while being loved and held and surrounded by family. As much as I didn’t want that moment, it ended up being as peaceful as it could be.
Thank you so much for all the loving, caring words and gifts. It means a great deal to me and to my forever sweet boy.
It’s going to take a while for this to sink in, but I do feel a sense of peace here even though I’m in deep grief too. 18 years together is a long time.
Love and gratitude ~
Jen (and also sweet Gumpy)
P.S. Thank you to Eva and Lisa for letting everyone know what was happening.