On Friday morning, Chandler was showing signs of a urinary tract obstruction. An obstruction is an emergency situation, because if the urethra is blocked, the bladder could burst. Thankfully, the vet opened at 8:00 in the morning, so I asked Jerry to take him in right away (since Caitlin was visiting, I didn't want to have to change our plans). From what I'd read online, I was thinking they'd probably give Chandler antibiotics, and depending on how bad the blockage was, possibly keep him a day or two until he was better. It never occurred to me that it would be the last time I'd see him.
Caitlin and I went to the state park for a long walk, and about a mile into the walk, I got a phone call from Jerry. He was at the vet's office, and he told me that the red bulge I'd noticed on Chandler that morning was actually a tumor that had come out of Chandler's urethra. The placement of the tumor had blocked the urethra. The vet said that it was very likely cancerous, and that because of Chandler's age, the tumor's location, and the amount of pain Chandler was in, he would recommend euthanasia.
I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach. It was the LAST thing I expected the vet to say. I knew Chandler was getting old, but I thought we'd at least have a few more years with him. I didn't know what to do--if I would have known he wouldn't come home, I would have given him his favorite wet food, and special treats; I would have cuddled and loved on him all night; I would have let the kids say good-bye to him. I thought about going to the vet right then, but Jerry said Chandler was in a lot of pain and they needed to do it right away.
I kept asking if he was SURE that the vet didn't think there was anything else we could do, and the vet insisted that if it was his own cat, he would choose euthanasia in this situation. The vet said he would likely die over the weekend if we brought him home. Both Jerry and I were crying on the phone, and I felt so awful that I wasn't there. We agreed that having him put down was the best decision, and it was heartbreaking.
The kids had stayed the night at my brother Brian's house, and I didn't want to ruin the fun time they were having, so we decided to wait until that evening to tell them. I was especially worried about Eli, because he adores our pets, and he's very sensitive to their feelings.
Jerry spent a few minutes alone with Chandler before the vet came in to administer the injection. Jerry said once the vet gave him the shot, it was over with very quickly and peacefully. We chose to have him cremated.
We had to make this decision a couple of years ago for Paolo, which was sad, but we'd only had Paolo a few years... with Chandler, the feelings hit so much harder.
Jerry and I adopted Chandler from the animal shelter in 2003, shortly after we got married. He's been with us through everything, from bringing new babies into the house, who grew up to love him as much as we did, to bringing in other pets. Chandler was always the "constant" around here.
He used to watch Baby Einstein with Noah when Noah was a baby, and I think he liked the show more than Noah did. Noah loved having a cat, and Chandler became his buddy--even now, 12 years later, Chandler preferred to sleep on the boys' beds. Whenever the kids were sad, and wanted a pet to love on, Chandler was always the go-to--because he allowed himself to be cuddled, hugged, and petted.
In his younger years, Chandler was agile and loved being outside. He could catch a bird mid-air, and a couple of times he even came home with a snake he'd killed. One winter, we had a really bad snow storm, and Chandler went missing. For four days, we looked and looked for him. I went around the neighborhood knocking on doors, passing out fliers, calling the shelter, hoping someone had seen him. On day five, once the snow started melting, I opened the door to go outside, and Chandler was there--fat, warm, and happy. I couldn't believe it! Someone had to have felt sorry for him and taken him in during the storm. After that, I started keeping him indoors only; I worried that one day, he wouldn't come back.
I'm not sure why he became such a fat cat, but it was a big part of his personality, and we loved that about him.
I did put him on a diet after attending the "True Nature of Cats" seminar at the Purina headquarters--I fed him twice a day, and I stopped leaving out a bowl of food for him to constantly graze on. The other cats didn't have a weight problem, so I didn't want to keep them from eating. I discovered that Chandler was too lazy to use a puzzle feeder (a dish that the cats have to work to get food from--the one I had was made of several long, skinny cups that the cats would have to reach into with their paws and pull some food out.)
I left the puzzle feeder out for the other cats, and Chandler just ate at his normal feeding times. He actually lost five pounds over several months! The next time I weighed him, I saw that he had gained two pounds back, and I was stumped as to how that could happen. He was still eating the recommended serving. And he was using the treadmill regularly ;)
One day, I discovered what was going on: I saw Estelle and Chandler sitting at the puzzle feeder. I watched as Estelle reached in for a piece of food, and ate it. Then, she reached in and pulled out another... for Chandler. Back and forth, she would eat a piece, and then give Chandler a piece. She was feeding him because he was too lazy to get it himself! I thought it was hilarious, and I realized Chandler was just meant to be a chubby kitty, so I stopped trying to make him diet.
Chandler was the most easy-going cat we've ever had. Phoebe and Estelle can't stand each other, but each of them liked Chandler. And Chandler had a friendship with Joey, as well! There were several times I caught Chandler licking Joey's head.
I'm not sure how much the other pets can sense about Chandler being gone, but ever since Friday, Phoebe has been hiding out in my bathroom underneath a bench--something she never does. And Joey hasn't been acting like his normal self, either--he's been much more mellow and quiet.
This has obviously been a big blow to our entire family. I don't even think it has fully sunk in yet. Jerry took the boys out for a very fun day yesterday--mini golf, batting cages, and the movies--while I showed Caitlin around Detroit. It was nice to do something to take our minds off of Chandler, but now that we're getting back in the normal routine, it feels so odd. He is missed so much already!