Eleven years ago, I was planning to move to Canada. It was the end of October and my cat, Colonel Mustard, was coming with me. He was going to be a buddy to Matt’s cat, Delta. Then one weekend the Colonel stopped eating. His belly was distended and he had little energy. First thing Monday I took him to the vet to find out that he had FIP, an incurable disease that my doctor explained to me is often referred to as feline AIDS. It broke my heart to do it, but the only choice I had was to say my goodbyes to Colonel Mustard the very next day.
Matt and I discussed getting another cat once I moved up to Canada. Though I’d given him to Matt, Delta really never warmed up to me. She was a one-human cat without a doubt. About a month after arriving in Ottawa, Matt and I took a trip to the local OSPCA shelter where we found Sigma. She was beautiful gray colored cat with the faintest stripes that gave a hint to some tabby heritage. It was obvious to look at her that she was still recovering from a starved existence; her ribs were showing through her skin and coat of fur.
We asked to take her out of the cage where she was happily meowing at us through the bars. She nuzzled into Matt’s arms immediately and we knew we’d found our cat. We got her chipped and ready to go home where she met her new friend, Delta, briefly before a three week period of isolation that was recommended after bringing her home. Delta wasn’t at all happy about the new arrival, but I knew she’d come around - and she did.
Sigma was so easy-going and friendly that she and Delta rarely did anything more than play fight. They respected each other’s boundaries and each had a role in our world that they were comfortable with. I never could determine which one was the dominant or submissive cat. They both took on both roles depending on the circumstances. The greatest validation of their close relationship was also the point at which the relationship ended. When we returned from Florida after my mother’s funeral, Delta wasn’t eating and had lost a considerable amount of weight. Our vet suspected cancer and we said our goodbyes - one heartbreak on top of another.
Matt didn’t want another cat right away, but it became clear that Sigma really missed Delta. Sigma is a very social cat. She likes people and her feline friends. It was only a few days later that we decided that we couldn’t leave her home alone every day while we were at work without a friend. That’s when we brought home Theta - a cat who is surprisingly similar in temperament to Delta, but with a greater attachment to me than Matt. Over the years with Sigma, she has gone back and forth in her loyalties from time to time, but she is now firmly and overwhelmingly Matt’s cat.
I have a theory that her devotion and adoration are due to his role as food provider. He is the primary food giver and food is very, very important to Sigma, which is why the last few days have been so difficult.
Friday while I was away Matt noticed that Sigma wasn’t eating. Anything. She’s hungry, wants food, but won’t eat at all when he’d give it to her. After a trip to the vet, Matt was told that something is wrong with her teeth. It’s not the first time this has happened, but previously she seemed to recover after a short period of eating soft wet food. This time, she eats nothing. The expense of finding out what’s wrong with her, and the potential of being unable to fix it (cancer) has led us to decide to, once again, say our goodbyes. Today. Because food is so important to Sigma - she cries almost exclusively when she wants food and is very vocal when she does - we both feel awful that she’s gone without for several days.
It’s hard to be in this place again where we have to say goodbye to a beloved pet. Sure, they can drive you nuts at times, but they’re part of the family nonetheless. We may have to explain to Brandon why Sigma is no longer around, which is a challenging conversation to have with a child who is truly too young to understand. But she will be better off and that’s the most important thing to us.
So, goodbye my sweet little cat. No other cat I’ve had has been as genuinely kind and nurturing as you. I can count on one hand the number of times you’ve hissed or swiped your paw at anyone. After 11 years in the family, that still amazes me what a truly sweet cat you are.
You will be missed.