Sunday, July 31, 2016

The One Where Chandler Crossed the Rainbow Bridge

What started out to be a super fun weekend with my friend Caitlin ended up taking a very sad turn on Friday. Caitlin flew in from Boston on Thursday for a long weekend visit, and I was so excited to see her--it had been two years since the last time I saw her! I'll write all about her visit tomorrow, though, because I want to keep this post about Chandler.


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!



57 comments:

  1. I am so sorry to hear about Chandler. He had a wonderful life with you and clearly was very loved! Thanks for writing such a lovely remembrance of him.

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  2. I am so sorry for your loss. Pets become part of our family, it's hard to lose them. I really enjoyed reading about Chandler, it's obvious he was a very special guy.

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  3. Crying for you as I read this. Virtual hugs to you!!

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  4. Losing a pet, especially unexpectedly, is heartbreaking. My cat Sadie got sick in January. She was only like 9-10. She was perfectly healthy and then one day I didn't see her and I didn't see her for a week and finally she came home and looked a mess. I think she might have eaten aluminum. Still don't know. But the vet said she had had a stroke likely and her heart was compromised. My parents were away (it was their cat at our house) so I waited 2 days until they came home so my mom could say goodbye. I cried all weekend and just held her and snuggled her.

    It'll get better eventually. I still miss her but I don't cry anymore.

    Aw man I really miss her again now.

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  5. Katie, my heart is broken for you. I recently wrote a comment on your Instagram about losing my fur baby, Gil, in October. I still find myself randomly crying over him not being here. He was only in our fsmily for four years but those four years felt like a lifetime in love and memories. You and your beautiful family are in my thoughts and prayers.

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  6. Heartbreaking to lose a pet, I'm so sorry for your loss. Thinking of you!

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  7. So sorry for your loss. Losing a pet, in any circumstances, sucks.

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  8. I'm so sorry to hear about Chandler. It leaves such a hole in your heart when you lose a pet. A big hug for you, Jerry, and the boys.

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  9. This breaks my heart. My little chihuahua died in 2012, and I still cry about her on occasion. She was my baby...I had her from a tiny puppy. It's so hard to lose them! Hang in there.

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  10. So sorry about Chandler! Hugs to you and your family.

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  11. Oh Katie, I am so sorry for your family's loss of Chandler. I know he lived a wonderful life with your family. Losing a furry family member is so very hard. Sending peaceful thoughts and virtual hugs to you and your family.

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  12. I'm so sorry to hear about Chandler however I loved the story about Estelle getting the food out for him. I will hug my fat cats extra tight tonight.

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  13. I'm so sorry to hear about Chandler however I loved the story about Estelle getting the food out for him. I will hug my fat cats extra tight tonight.

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  14. I am so sorry Katie. An animal loss hits HARD. I've loved reading about your cats for years. Know you and your family are in my thoughts. Rest in peace, Chandler.

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  15. I am so, so incredibly sorry. I started crying as soon as I saw the post title. And started laughing when I read about Estelle feeding him snacks!!! And back to crying by the end again...

    You know we just lost Tootie (Toulouse) June 4th. He was only 9. I'm not up that far in my blogging, but it's going to be a big mess when I do. I posted about it on my instagram, that's about all I could handle. I sobbed all day today- it's been almost two months, and I'm probably just hormonal or something but I just miss my kid. Chandler was special, the odd duck of the family, and so was Tootie. Tootie walked on a leash and loved dogs and liked going to PetSmart and the only time he caught a bird he caught it soft-pawed because he didn't know better. (Basically he gave it a hug!). It is so heart breaking to lose someone you love, no matter who they are or what their species.

    I hope the boys and you and Jerry are okay and hang in there. I think the thing I have struggled with is questioning whether it was the right descion and the thing I tell myself is: When we adopt these sweet babies, we promise to give them the very best, very happiest life. And part of being their guardians means we will give them the gentlest endings they can. And by taking charge of it, You and Jerry did that. You have him the softest, peacefullest most gentle ending you could. Tootie died purring. That's the best we can do.

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  16. I'm so sad for your loss! Losing a pet is truly heartbreaking! I

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  17. So sorry for the loss of your sweet kitty.

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  18. I'm so sorry for your loss. I started crying just reading about it. Our pets are definitely part of the family and Chandler sounds like he was a awesome kitty.

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  19. I am SO sorry to hear about your kitty, it's never easy to lose a loved companion. 😰

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  20. I'm so sorry to read of your loss. Being a cat mama myself, your story brought tears to my eyes. Hugs from Kansas.

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  21. This still makes me so incredibly sad for you and your family. When I saw your Instagram post over the weekend, my heart immediately dropped. The way you talked about him on your blog made us all love him! I'm keeping you in my thoughts. I know your family will pull through this together <3

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  22. Oh Katie, I am so sorry. My heart is broken for you guys.

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  23. I'm bawling my eyes out reading this! Chandler had such a wonderful life with you all and this was a great tribute to him :) Thinking of you and your family. I know how sad and painful it is to go through this.

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  24. I am so sorry for your loss.

    Chandler looked so much like my Ross (he was born in 1995 so shortly after Friends started). I had to put him down in 2008, 10 days after I found out I was pregnant with my son. It was so hard.

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  25. I'm so very sorry, Katie. Thankfully Chandler was able to live in a home where he was loved very much.

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  26. What a beautiful tribute. I'm sitting here crying...SO sorry for your loss. Its definitely the hardest part of having a pet. :'(

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  27. I'm so sorry Katie. Pets are family and it hurts like hell when they die. Prayers for you and your family.

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  28. Oh my gosh. I'm so so sorry. I can't imagine not being able to be there. {hugs} to you. Those pics with Chandler when the boys were little melted my heart. I got all teary eyed. There is nothing like the bond between kids and animals. Chandler had a great life!

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  29. I'm so sorry. I've always loved your cat stories -- I have two of my own. I'm glad he had such a long and loved life. Gentle hugs to your family.

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  30. So sorry to hear about your family's loss, Katie. This is a beautiful tribute to him and what he meant to your family.

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  31. I'm so sorry to hear about your loss!!!!!!! Hugs to you and your family!!!

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  32. I am so sorry to hear about your family's loss. Chandler was obviously loved by all of you. I hope that your sweet memories will bring you comfort as you grieve.

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  33. I am so sorry, Katie. We lost our big, beautiful, chill cat this spring. He went outside for a bit and never returned. We live in the middle of corn fields and the coyotes have been very brazen this year. On top of that, our German Shepherd got out of the house yesterday and we have not found her. It's been a hard pet summer....so, I totally feel your pain. Hugs!

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  34. Katie, I am crying for you. From someone who also treats their pets like family, my heart goes out to you and yours.

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  35. This is heartbreaking. What a blessing for Chandler to have such a loving and kind family to give him a wonderful life. It looks like he gave a lot of love in return. My heart aches for you and your family.

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  36. What a beautiful tribute to this sweet sweet kitty cat! He had a wonderful life thanks to you and your family who made him happy everyday. I am sooo very sorry.

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  37. So sorry to hear about Chandler. Looked like a real sweetie.

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  38. Awww so sorry to hear about Chandler!

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  39. So very sorry for the loss of Chandler, but loved the title of your blog--Just like another episode of Friends. I hate it that you feel regret for not spending more quality time w/Chandler at the end. First of all, you had no idea. And second and more importantly, Chandler was so lucky to have made his home with your family these years and he knew it. Prayers and love Katie. Pam

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  40. I am so sorry about Chandler! He enjoyed a great life with your and Jerry and the boys.

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  41. I am so sorry. Having gone through a similar situation of having to put my 15 year old cat down suddenly after thinking it was something simple, I know it can be such a shock. They become so ingrained in your life and your memories, the loss can be really tough. My thoughts are with you and your family. Virtual hugs coming ya'lls way.

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  42. My sympathies. Losing a pet just plain sucks.

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  44. Very sorry for your loss of Chandler! Thru your post he seemed like such a character!

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  45. Katie, I'm so sorry about Chandler. I know it has to be hard, especially since it was so unexpected. Just remember that you gave him a wonderful life, and you did the right thing not letting him suffer. I loved the story about Estelle giving him food, so sweet!

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  46. Oh Katie, I'm sorry. I had to put my two oldest cats down last year. They were both quite old, but you never really expect it, and it's so hard. I bet he is chasing rabbits and squirrels in the next world...Hugs to you and your family.

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  47. I'm so sorry Katie. Big hugs to you and your family.

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  48. I'm so sorry Katie. Big hugs to you and your family.

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  49. Sigh, so sorry for your loss Katie. My heart hurts for you, Jerry and the boys. Like you said, it's especially difficult since you didn't get to say goodbye and poor Jerry had to do it all alone. I've had exactly one cat in my life, but, of course, he was the best cat ;~) Actually, very similar to Chandler in personality. He had kidney failure and was obviously very uncomfortable so we put him down at the ripe old age of 18. Hardest.Thing.Ever! We cried for a half hour afterwards in the office and the staff were so sweet, it has to be hard for them, too. Crossing the rainbow bridge is never easy, but you have all the great memories and pictures so he'll never be far away. Sending cyber hugs. ~Janet xo

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  50. It's so hard losing a pet :( So sorry that your fur baby is no longer with you.

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