Farewell Sonny

Sonny in March. He was a very regal animal.

Sonny passed away on Tuesday at the age of 18. He died of kidney failure due to old age. We noticed him laying in an odd places and having trouble with his back legs on Friday. He looked a bit thin and tired but he was getting old and had been losing weight and sleeping more often anyway. We called the vet and were lucky to get an appointment that afternoon. Blood tests determined that his kidneys were failing and made it difficult for nutrients to reach his muscles, causing the leg issues.

We left him with the vet for the rest of the day to do an IV fluid treatment and then brought him home to do subcutaneous fluids over the weekend. We made him all sorts of different assistive devices out of pillows and boxes but he never seemed to stay in them, preferring to crawl out. On Friday evening he crawled all the way down to the basement and tried to hide under our stairs. It took almost 30 minutes to find him the next day.

He got worse on Saturday and couldn’t even walk. He would drink water but wouldn’t eat, and we had to help him to the litter box. He took his subcutaneous fluids well and we saw what seemed like improvement by Sunday. He was more alert and interactive, still wanted to drink, but couldn’t get up. Even in this state he enjoyed being on our laps; it seemed very comforting to him. He still didn’t look good, but we felt hopeful.

The vet called on Monday and suggested that we could bring him in for a couple days of intensive IV treatments. If his kidneys responded, we could continue subcutaneous fluids for as many months or years he had left. We decided to bring him in and had a good family cry / possible goodbye before we left.

We found out Tuesday morning that he had passed. It was hard, but not surprising. It felt abrupt even though we had already talked about the high likelihood he would pass and had made a lot of effort to spend time with him. We had effectively said goodbye as a family each night not knowing if he’d make it to morning. It felt different to me because he was already out of the house. He didn’t pass in the house and he didn’t pass with us around him. It was different than our other animals and has taken me a bit more time to process and accept.

The boys were sad, of course. We talked (and cried) with them several times over the weekend, explaining what could happen and what might. Zach had built a particularly close relationship with him in the last year, running down to snuggle with him every morning and throughout the day and cuddling with him on the couch. Sonny was often part of Zach’s five minute break from remote learning when it got stressful.

Adam was more outwardly emotional and spent more time crying with us, while Zach asked a lot of questions about what would happen and when. When would we take him to the vet? Why was he sick? What was the medicine? Why can’t he walk? Adam would take the answers and knit them together into a story – “Sonny can’t walk because he is sick and his legs hurt too much so he wants to lay down. We are giving him medicine to make his legs better.” It’s not quite what was happening, but it was enough to give them an understanding. They were really good with him and tried to make him comfortable with blankets and petting. It was very sweet.

Sonny was a great cat, one of the friendliest I’ve ever known. He was the son of Sally’s Mom’s cat Agfa, who had a quick one-night-stand before his neutering appointment the next day. Sonny was only a couple of years old when we moved to Arcola Street together and started college. He was here for it all – the dogs, our house, our marriage, the kids. He lived with my grumpy old cat Sebastian, Sally’s angry cat Eclipse, and of course, our sassy little kitten Cher.

He was gentle and rarely hissed, if ever. He never clawed and didn’t bite. If he wanted your attention he would reach out his very long paw and gently stroke your face, no claws. He had a tiny bob tail (like a bunny). People occasionally asked if we cut his tail off. We did not. His dad had a half-tail so he got a bob.

He had very soft, very thick, fur that shedded all the time. I didn’t let him on my lap often because he left so much hair afterward, but in his later years I didn’t have a choice. Once Holly passed, he decided that he was top of the totem pole and sat on my lap whether I wanted it or not. He was persistent, trying five, six, seven times in a row until you gave up. He also kicked Cher out of our bed for a few months and started sitting at our dinner table.

I’ll definitely miss his furry orange self and his affections. Hopefully we’re lucky enough to have another cat so good-natured. Farewell, my friend. Tell Hannah and Holly that we said “hi”.

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