This sticky note has Keelay’s paw print. My sister gave it to me after he passed away. And below is an ed-op article I wrote for the school newspaper at RPI.
My cat was put to sleep on Friday. I got a text message from my dad after I took my GRE the day before: “Keelay has kidney failure.”
Last week was not that great to begin with. It seemed like exams and assignments were piling on every second, making me want to do nothing but implode. I was happy for about five minutes after the GRE—then I checked my text messages.
Keelay was a healthy, happy cat and only 10 years old. The vet said he possibly found a pool of spilled anti-freeze (we didn’t live that far from a local gas station). He wasn’t doing great, and the vet suggested we don’t wait out the weekend.
My boyfriend had driven me to the test center, but had to leave because of class and wouldn’t be back for a good hour and a half. So, I ended up crying alone in the girls’ bathroom until my boyfriend came to drive me home.
My younger sister had left school early and spent the day with Keelay, crying in her bedroom. Walking up the stairs to her room was painful, and when I walked in and saw Keelay, I lost it; he was thin, upset, and suffering—his movements were slow and he very gently drank his water. I kissed him and cried with my sister.
The past few days have been really hard. Scheduling all my homework/exam extensions for Monday wasn’t one of my brightest ideas. It was hard to focus and having a picture of Keelay on my phone probably didn’t help. I spent a lot of time talking to my boyfriend about my cat and how wonderfully quirky Keelay was.
Keelay was an orange tabby. He was big, and a major attention hog. We first met him at the vet’s office while we were taking our other cat, Gabby, for a check-up. I sat down on a bench, leaned back, and squished him as he curled up on the seat behind me. We fell in love with him and brought him home that day. Keelay and Gabby didn’t get along very well, but it was a love-hate relationship. Gabby was the princess; Keelay was the man of the house.
He had been an indoor cat most of his life, but always tried to find a way to sneak outside. But, when my family moved to my grandparents’ house, we let him go outdoors. There was a big field, a wooded area, and less traffic. He went out, had some fun, and always came back. But, my grandparents’ house is not that far from where we used to live, near that gas station. So one day, Keelay went to our old house, came back…
I have been thinking about him a lot over the past few days. He was good-natured, persistent, somewhat smelly, and had those quirky cat habits that we all love: chasing his tail, drinking out of the toilet, and sleeping in the sink. I remember when I was growing up, both Gabby and Keelay slept with me on the top bunk quite a bit (especially when the dog started sleeping on my sister’s bed underneath). I think about the way he woke me up in the morning, forcefully and ceaselessly nuzzling my arm with his nose and giving me kisses.
Keelay came home last week, and instead of making him feel better, we take him to the vet and put him down. Sometimes I wonder. Did he know he was going to die? That’s a rhetorical question, I don’t expect an answer. However, when I received the text message from my dad, I definitely wasn’t thinking that it would be my last chance to see him. I wasn’t ready for the news and sometimes I still feel like he’s at home, playing with Gabby, wandering around in the garden, waiting on the porch to be let in. And then I remember.
“No amount of time can erase the memory of a good cat, and no amount of masking tape can ever totally remove his fur from your couch.”