Little Man Harris-Ferraro

Jun, 2001 — Mon, Jun 29, 2015

Littles: A Relatively Comprehensive History

I’ve never come upon any of my pet cats in the usual way. I don’t think we even had a pet store in our small town, let alone a shelter anywhere close. All of my childhood pet cats were either from the garbage dump (which was the case for my first real pet cat, Thumper) or I found them randomly in a culvert along the highway (as was the case with Bubby). The story of how Little Man came into my life is not much different. I was sitting in the lunch room with my friends one day, somewhere around the end of grade 10 (2001), as far as I can recall. A girl from an “allied” friend group came over to our table and announced that she had these two (or was it three?) kittens and that her father was going to drown them if they didn’t find a home soon. I don’t know if this girl’s father was actually going to drown them, or if she was just saying that in order to add a sense of urgency to the whole thing, but I took her word for it. I said, without much hesitation, that I would gladly take them off of their hands and find homes for them. I said that they could drop them off after school – and they did. Right after school. I think I was barely off the bus when their vehicle came into the driveway. There was no ceremony about it. They didn’t seem attached to them, and there were no goodbyes. They were just dropping their cargo. It took only a minute or two. After that, I just brought them in the house and waited for my mom to come home. I was a little nervous about that, because, you see, I didn’t ask her permission. And we already had two cats, a few bunnies (at least, I think we still had them), a couple of hamsters, and a large tank of fish. I think we may even have had a few lizards around at this time. In any case, we only had a very modestly-sized home and it was already pretty full. I wasn’t sure how she would take adding to our already pretty extensive list of pets. But as is typical of her character, she gave me no grief and completely understood that I really had no choice in the matter. It was just: “Of course. What else could you do?” And that was that.

At first, we had no intention of keeping any of the kittens. We just wanted to find them homes. We didn’t even name them. After all, they were really beautiful little babies. We thought they would find homes in no time. They were still quite tiny, with an apparently somewhat rare blue-cream colouration, as I have more recently learned. One of the kittens, a little girl, was very fluffy and very sweet to look at. She was a very dominant, independent personality. Everyone loved her, straight off. Littles, on the other hand, was a much more subdued personality. His hair was shorter and he was very timid. He took more time to get to know. I guess, he was much more like me in that respect. I can even remember the precise moment that I knew he was MY cat. My baby. At the time, he was still very new to our family, and we had not yet re-homed his sister (which didn’t take long because she was so well-liked). Me and my other cat, Bubby – who really was the lumberjack of cats – were taking a walk through the woods behind my house. And I mean that. Bubby followed me everywhere. When I went to school, I had to make sure he was inside the house, otherwise, he’d follow me onto the highway and right onto the goddamned bus. He was practically a dog and certainly the type of cat that looked after you as much as you looked after him. Unfortunately, he ran away a few months after I left for Toronto. I like to think that maybe he was trying to find me. Anyway, on this particular trip into the woods, I decided to bring the kittens along, to see how they fared. I guess it was a family initiation of sorts. After all, I spent a good chunk of my high school years in the woods behind my house, just exploring and whatnot. The little girl did really well. She was able to cross small streams on her own by exploiting fallen branches and stones, she could climb trees, and she was still very tiny. Little Man, on the other hand, pretty much needed coaxing at every step, so, I ended up carrying him most of the way. After crossing this one stream, I let them explore a little area with lots of cedar trees. The bark was really soft, so they could climb them easily. Well, Littles decided he wanted to try and climb one of these trees. He shimmied up to about chest-height and almost immediately chickened out. He was stuck, meowing his little baby head off. So, of course, I laughed at him a bit, and helped him down. I carried him the rest of the way to the little Becaguimec stream, which runs behind my house, and back home again. And it was that day that I started calling him my Little Man. It wasn’t meant to be his forever name. Like I said, we didn’t mean to keep him. But I guess it stuck. And ever since then he has been my little baby boy.

We lived in that house until the summer of 2003, when I left for university. While I was away, he lived with my mother and I came back to see him when I was on break. After my first year of university, I decided that I did not enjoy my program and subsequently enrolled in massage therapy school for the following year. After making a few friends in my new program, I moved out of my first Toronto apartment and into another, which I shared with Kylene Gagnon, and later, Kayla Moran (also an East Coaster). It was at this time that I decided to move Littles to the big city. We had room, and Kylene also had a cat: Mia, a sweet and beautiful little girl. A tortoise shell. I figured that they would make good friends. She was a bit older than Littles and more serious. Such a lady. I figured she’d be a good compliment to Littles’ shy, but really quite goofy nature. As it often is when first introducing two felines, they didn’t immediately hit it off. It took some time. However, they eventually became pretty good buddies. Indeed, I like to think that Mia always wanted Littles to make a move on her, but Littles being the way that he was, didn’t quite get the message :P Unfortunately, we lost Mia a few years ago, also to cancer, and they never got a chance to play that whole thing out.

I did my first year of massage therapy, decided I didn’t like dealing with clients, and went back to university to complete my arts degree. I changed my major from Environmental Studies to Humanities and enrolled in courses. By the time my major was changed, most courses were already full, so, I ended up taking a bunch of random classes: German history, fantasy literature, a few philosophy classes, and a film class. It was in that random film class in 2005 that I met my partner, Stefan Ferraro. Until that time, I had no idea how possessive that cat was of me. Initially, he definitely saw Stefan as a competitor. If he was ever shut out of the bedroom, he’d either cry until I let him in or he’d stick his paws way under the door and pull my laundry (which I often just threw behind the door) out into the hallway. It was not uncommon for me to wake up in the morning and find my underwear and socks strewn about just outside of my bedroom. Really, he was such a little weirdo that way. It was certainly something we periodically made fun of him for in later years.

That year ended up being exceedingly difficult for me, financially. There was a problem with my student loan, some of my paperwork got lost, and I ended up having no funding for the second semester. In any case, I finished out the year. However, as I could no longer afford my apartment, I moved back home for the summer, and I took Little Man with me (in a transport truck, no less. The driver, who, unbeknownst to me, had a severe cat allergy, just loved that). When we got back to Hartland, he was once again an outdoor cat – which he was pretty excited about. He just loved grass and being outside. When I returned to Toronto the next fall, I left him with my mother in New Brunswick, in part, because he was truly an outdoor cat at heart, but also because I was moving into a much smaller apartment, where having a pet cat just wouldn’t be practical (or fair). This arrangement was maintained for the next three or four years. During this time, Littles became somewhat more independent. Normally so docile and unaggressive, he actually started hunting (and, in truth, absolutely slaughtering) mice. He was a sweet guy, but he definitely still had his instincts. This became more and more apparent as he got older. While I am not one for violence (I was definitely rooting for the mice in this scenario), I was pretty proud of him for being able to take care of himself.

In 2010, after 5 years of dating, I moved in with Stefan. We got an apartment, where we still live today, in the same neighbourhood that I initially lived in with Little Man. That summer, I brought Littles back to the city to live with us. At first I wasn’t sure how Little Man and Stefan would get along. I had pretty much spoiled Littles and I didn’t have many rules for him. Basically, I was worried that our pet-parenting styles would clash. Don’t get me wrong, Stefan really only had one rule: No sleeping on the bed (re: allergies). In the end, this arrangement was more of an affront to me than the cat, I think. Little Man was a good boy, and he loved abiding by rules. He never wanted to do anything that would make us unhappy. He didn’t even like to test the waters much. He always just sort of knew what he wasn’t supposed to do. To be honest, we never really told him not to go on the bed. We just never invited him up, and so he never tried – not even when we weren’t home to watch him (except for that one time, which was pretty funny). Similarly, when we got new furniture, he wouldn’t even try to jump up on it – at least, not until we invited him to do so. He never sharpened his claws on the furniture, he never chewed on power cords, and he never tried to climb the curtains. He never woke us up before we were ready, and he never peed on the floor – in fact, we didn’t even have to litter train him. He just knew what to do. One time, when he still lived with my mother, he got stuck inside and he really needed to go outside to use the washroom. I guess we had left for the awhile and forgot to let him out first. However, instead of sullying the floor or the carpet, he climbed into the bath tub and did his business. How considerate is that?!

In our absence, we could always trust him to know what we would want him to do. We really didn’t have to teach him anything. Except for tricks. He was very trainable for a cat. He knew how to lie down and sit on command. We could even get him to be silent and wait patiently for food or treats (which was really a lot to ask of him. He was such a hungry baby). He was, by far, the smartest cat I have ever met, and that’s not personal bias, that’s an objective fact.

While he was certainly a good, intelligent boy, he did have his quirks. For instance, even though he didn’t typically complain, he did have more subtle ways of letting us know if we weren’t paying enough attention to him. For instance, he would go into the bathroom or kitchen and put his paw under the cupboard or vanity door and wiggle it so it creaked. Or he’d do that same thing with the closet door when it was closed. This door was a little loose so, even when it was closed, it would move a little, making this light banging noise. Eventually, we had to stuff a sock or slipper in the door before we closed it at night, otherwise he’d just sit there, opening and closing the door slightly, so as to make that constant “bang, bang, bang” noise that he knew would alert us to his need for immediate attention. He was certainly very clever, if nothing else.

Before Little Man made the trip to Toronto to live with us, he had his first vet visit in a long time. This necessitated getting him a carrier, something we never had for him. When he went anywhere, we usually just held him on our laps, but we figured that that would be hard to do on public transit. So we got the carrier – and he hated it. He absolutely abhorred the thing. Indeed, on the way to his appointment he decided it was a good idea to poop his carrier – and in one of my best friends’ cars, no less! (Sorry Laura!) He hated that thing for quite a long time after that. I credit Kylene for finally making him like it. I was out East for the holidays, and Stefan was to make the trip out a bit later. After spending Christmas with his family on Lake Simcoe, Stefan dropped Littles off to stay with Kylene until we returned. To make him comfortable in a new space, she left his carrier out so that he would have something familiar around. Apparently, her idea worked and he spent a lot of time in it while he stayed with her. After that, he viewed his carrier in a much different way. It was as though he thought it had some sort of magical protective power. His own personal fortress of solitude. When he was out of the house, as long as he was in his carrier, he thought he was impervious to traffic, bothersome children, and the incursions of other pets. Other than when he was at home, it was a place in which he felt safest.

Maybe two years ago, I took him back home by plane for a visit. The flight was two hours, plus travel to the airport (an hour by bus), and probably another 2+ hours getting through security and dropping off bags and whatnot. He spent this whole time in his carrier – except for when I had to take him out briefly in order to go through security (The security people just loved him, by the way – especially in the Fredericton Airport. He got quite a fussing over there on our way home). The only time he put up any fuss was when we were in the oversized luggage line (apparently that’s where all of the people with pets have to go). There was another lady with a cat just in front of us, and this little kitty was crying up a storm. Littles just looked at us and looked at the other cat and he just kept looking back and forth like that for a while, as if to say, “Is that what I should be doing? Where exactly are you taking me, anyway?” While he was on the plane, he barely made a sound, however. His carrier is very discrete and looks like a smallish black duffle bag, so no one knew that there was even a cat in there. Needless to say, when we finally disembarked, the people sitting next to me were very surprised to know that there was a cat sitting under my seat the whole time.

Somewhere during those years, I completed a BSc and started an MSc. When I started graduate studies three years ago, Stefan really became his primary care-giver. I was always in the lab and Stefan’s area of study allowed him to work from home, so he was able to be with him almost every day. In that time, they became such good bros. Little Man would always sit just outside Stefan’s office and wait for him to take a break or simply leave the room. He would then follow him around the house, looking for the opportunity to sit on his lap. See, Little Man always loved Stefan’s more aggressive belly rubs, and it didn’t matter if he was eating lunch or studying, Littles would always try to get some pettings. This wasn’t entirely self-serving, though. When Stefan’s work was particularly stressful or if he was having a difficult day, Littles was especially cuddly towards him, as if he knew Stefan could use the comfort. He was always very intuitive that way. Altogether, Stefan and Little Man spent quite a lot of time together.

Up until that point, Littles had mostly been raised by women. My mom, me, Kylene, my sister, Jennifer – even the most casual visitors were mostly women. He’d never really been around men – at least not for an extended period of time (except for Mike, my mom’s husband, who I think mostly liked to tease him). In the time Little Man had with Stefan, he definitely became more assertive – not that women can’t be assertive, or teach those traits. It’s just that those he had been around were more of the nurturing-type. Before meeting Stefan, if there were other cats or dogs around, Littles would always be the submissive one. If another cat wanted to eat his food, he’d just let it happen. He would never stick up for himself. He’d much rather avoid the confrontation. Well, that all changed in the last few years. A lot. He didn’t let anyone push him around by the end, not even if it was a larger dog (as I am sure Stefan’s sister’s greyhound, Bella, can attest to. I know Wally, my friends Jillian and Jason’s cat, was also on the receiving end of his late-onset bossiness). He was still the same old squishy-pants that was all about the food and the cuddles, but he also had this obvious pride in himself now. This is about the time we started referring to him as our little lion, because of his big head and square nose and how he always held his head up so high. He was no longer one to be trifled with, that was for certain.

While entirely manly, he was mostly a big cuddly-bum. He wanted to be involved in everything. There was no leaving Little Mans out, no sir. If we left the house, he would invariably try and leave with us (and, oddly, he was always surprised when the hallway looked the same every time he went out the door). He hated getting wet, but whenever either one of us would shower, he’d wait right outside the door in the hallway. Sometimes, he’d even peak in, probably in an effort to determine why we would ever want to do that to ourselves. He even knew when bed time was. If we went to bed, he usually wasn’t far behind. Often, he’d even beat us to it! If it was after 11pm, it was usually a safe bet that he was already lying in his bed in our room, waiting for us to retire. He almost always woke up before us, and he’d usually head to the living room. After we woke and he could hear us stirring, only then would he come back into the bedroom to greet us with his characteristic meow (if you can call it that. We always thought he sounded more like a 1930’s gangster than a cat). He was always very considerate that way.

The worst thing for him would be when I would leave the house for any period of time, especially when I would take my bi-yearly trips back home to the East Coast. I don’t know if it was all of the moving around that I put him through, but he definitely had serious abandonment issues. According to Stefan, he was generally inconsolable during these times. No amount of petting or cuddles (while they were certainly enjoyed) was sufficient. He’d often hang by the door or look longingly out the window, as though he were awaiting my return. If I were gone for an especially long time, he’d often make himself sick, and this sometimes necessitated a visit to the vet. It was so bad that we more recently resolved that it would probably be best if I were to take him back home with me whenever I went, a prospect that I really didn’t mind, though I think Stefan would have missed the little guy.

Littles was never very playful. Though he was certainly a goof, he was also a very serious cat, at least when it came to interpreting the actions of the people around him. If he were a person, he’d be the kind of guy who didn’t understand sarcasm or get jokes. Playing was his version of sarcasm. If you tried to play with him, he’d likely run off, wondering what he ever did to deserve it. That didn’t keep us from trying, though (and we tried everything). In total, there were only three things that he enjoyed, in this respect: (1) Little Stinkies (Thanks to Stefan’s parents, who graciously got him some for Christmas one year). They are these little stuffed fish-shaped things that are filled with catnip. They come in a metal sardine can. He’d just rip those guys apart – and he wasn’t even a big catnip guy; (2) Grey foam weather stripping from the hardware store. It came in these long coils and we used it in the winter time to keep the cold air from coming in the balcony door. Littles had a very deep and unexplained hatred for the stuff. We’d sort of tap him on the nose or paw with it, and that always got him going pretty good; and (3) Something I like to call the “Treat Getting Game”. Really, this was just me sliding his treats across the floor so he could chase it. Simple, I know. But he loved it. It was also a great way for him to get some exercise. The things that boy would do for a treat.

As I mentioned earlier, Little Man was a big weirdo – and not only for his inordinate fascination with my laundry. That just barely scraped the surface of his weirdness. He also slept...oddly. He always had to have his head propped up on something, whether it were a book, against the side of a dresser, or the base of a vacuum cleaner. We have pictures of him sleeping in any number of oddball positions. In later years, he also began sleeping with his eyes open, which didn’t help his case any. He loved blanket forts. They were among his favourite things. He could not abide by a blanket that he could not, in some way, get under. All I had to do was have an unfolded blanket in my hands near him and he’d immediately get excited. He’d be like, “Ok. It’s tent-making time” and he’d jump up on the couch and position himself in preparation. If a folded blanket was sitting on the couch, he’d paw at it whilst meowing desperately until someone unfolded it and made it into a tent. He also loved to spoon. That doesn’t sound weird, but how he coerced me into spooning was. If I were lying on the couch on my back, he’d sit on my chest and drive his head into my armpit until I had to roll over onto my side in order to make room for him. And voila, he’d be spooned. He also didn’t understand windows. One wall in our living room is all windows – the one that faces the balcony. It freaks him out a bit. I’d open the balcony door and he’d sit at the threshold looking at the door frame and either side of the glass, confused. When he was outside, I would sit inside and look at him through the window, and he’d meow and paw at it, just completely perplexed by what was happening. He’d jump up on his hind legs and lean into the window with his front paws, as though he were wondering why he didn’t just fall through the things – like he was surprised that they were both solid and see-through. One time he ran and jumped at the door, headfirst, like he was trying to ram it. And he hit hard, too. I am not even joking. We were pretty shocked when he did it. There are probably other weird quirks that he had that I am forgetting. But, yeah, he was an odd one, alright.

More recently, Little Man had suffered several health-related set-backs. It started with recurrent bladder blockages, which precipitated many vet visits and over-night stays. Having to leave him in the vets’ office for the first time was tough. It wasn’t his first vet visit related to this particular problem, but it was certainly the most traumatic for him – and us. It happened not quite a year ago. He had been sedated and hooked up to an IV after a procedure to remove a particularly bad blockage. His paw was in a cast and he had one of those cone things around his neck to keep him from biting the IV. He was all bleary-eyed and confused due to the sedatives and we had to leave him there that way. He never looked so betrayed. Because I am a big sissy, I cried all the way home. Just sobbed. He was there for two nights in total. While he was there, even with the cast and the sedation and the cone, my boy, because he didn’t take any BS, still managed to pull out the IV anyway. The IV was there to help rehydrate him, sure, but I still secretly thought that that was pretty awesome.

He never really recuperated from that visit. Not 100%. It wasn’t long after that that he started to become very picky about food – which was no good because there were only like two brands that he could eat because of his feline urinary tract disease. His eating issues really came to a head in the last few months. We took him to his regular vet, Dr. Atilla Koroknai, at the Bathurst-Dupont Animal Hospital, where we found out that he had lost nearly 5 lbs in the previous six months (about a third of his weight). He was always a chubby boy, but that’s pretty startling weight loss for a cat. That day, he was diagnosed with feline anorexia and was promptly prescribed some medication to encourage his appetite. For a while, it worked beautifully. He was his regular hungry self – kind of a pig, actually. He even gained some of his weight back. At that same time, we also had blood work done, the results of which indicated that he may have a liver problem (apparently whatever they measured to determine his liver health was about 4x normal). The doctor surmised (or rather, hoped, as we now know) that these abnormal readings were due to his drastic weight loss. We decided to have his liver rechecked in a week. After that time, his readings had improved drastically, but were still abnormal, so we set a date to have him again rechecked.

A few days passed and he was more or less fine – a little finicky from time to time, but improving, for sure. We thought we were out of the woods. However, that just wasn’t the case, unfortunately. On the morning of Wednesday, June 24th, we woke up to find that our baby boy was breathing very abnormally. We immediately made an emergency appointment with our vets’ office and brought him in that day. Because Dr. Koroknai was on vacation, Dr. Elahi, another vet that we had dealt with in the past, was responsible for his care at this time. Indeed, he was our main contact until the very end. During this appointment, X-rays indicated that a fair amount of fluid had accumulated in his chest. He appeared to be suffering from congestive heart failure. The cause was uncertain, however. That day, we had about a half cup or so of fluid drained out of his chest. The doctor prescribed heart medication and a diuretic and we later set up an appointment for chest and, if necessary, abdominal ultrasounds. We were told that if the heart was the problem, it was treatable. If it wasn’t the heart, it could be cancer, in which case the prognosis was not good. We hoped for the best. We were just happy that Littles could breathe again. I’ve never heard him purr as hard as he did that day. He was just so grateful. He just sat in his carrier right after and purred his fool head off the whole way home.

On Friday morning, we took him in for his ultrasound appointment. We left him with the vet to be prepped and were told that if the chest ultrasound didn’t reveal anything, they would call us and ask if we wanted to proceed with the abdominal ultrasound. We hoped that we wouldn’t need it, but again, that, unfortunately, was not the case – though, there was a silver lining. From the chest examination, it appeared that his condition may be the result of a viral infection that could have been dormant for some time. So, we went forward with the abdominal ultrasound, hoping that we could rule out cancer. But, again, it was the worst case scenario. They found a mass in his abdomen, and the doctor informed us of the prognosis: He could live a few days or several months. It was hard to say. The rate-limiting factor was really how quickly the fluid built up in his chest and that depended on how well he responded to medication. It didn’t look good, however, as that day they siphoned off another cup of fluid that had accumulated in his chest since his previous appointment. We were given a steroid and were told to up his diuretic dosage. We were devastated.

Unfortunately for us, our regular vets’ office was set to be closed from that Sunday to the following Thursday. This meant that we would have to manage Little Man’s health on our own for nearly a week. This caused us some concern, especially considering how quickly fluid appeared to accumulate in his chest. However, our doctor reassured us, saying that there would be staff in the office to answer phones on Tuesday and, if needed, he could come in to help us. We thought, “Sure. Tuesday. We can do that.” We hoped. He said he would be in touch and asked us to contact the office on the Tuesday.

At this point, we knew what the outcome was going to be. We didn’t know when, but we knew it was coming. So, we wanted to make sure that Littles still got a few new experiences in before our time was up. The following morning, we made a trip to Home Depot, where we purchased two rolls of sod. We used it to transform our balcony into a park for him, so he could feel the grass under his feet at least one more time. We put nice pots of grass all through the house for him, just in case he wasn’t well enough to go outside. We bought him all of his favourite foods, and some new fancy foods for him to try. We even let him on the bed (the heck with allergies!). Because he was getting pretty weak at that point, we even took a bunch of text books and boxes and built a staircase up to the bed (and because he was so smart, he learned how to use it and what it was for pretty quickly). Anywhere that he usually sat, we made sure that there were blankets for him to lie on. We strategically placed pillows around the apartment that could catch his fall if he tried to jump up or down from somewhere on his own. We did everything we could think of to make life easier for him.

We made sure everything was quiet and calm. We kept our voices down. I sang to him lots: “Little mans, he’s the most handsome, and he’s the most fluffiest, and he’s the most cuddliest...”

We spent time. As much time as we could.

The first two days after his diagnosis, he was ok. He was getting worse, but we thought we could keep up.

The next day, Monday, the irregular, heavy breathing started again – but, at first, it came and went. He had a good sleep in the morning, (finally) and he was still using the bathroom and drinking, though his eating was certainly irregular. He could still walk around on his own, though with some difficulty. He jumped up in the window, unaided. By his own volition, he went outside on the balcony, where he enjoyed the grass and rested in one of the patio chairs for about a half hour or so. It was the longest he had rested in one place all day. He was still stubborn and wanted to do things by himself, things that he really didn’t have the strength to do. I tried moving his food and water closer to where he slept and he wouldn’t have any of it. He almost immediately walked straight back to the kitchen, even though his food was right beside him in the living room, meaning that I had to carry all of his stuff back so he could eat and drink in his normal spot. He still had a lot of fight in him.

However, by late afternoon, he was beginning to get very frustrated with his inability to do things like he used to. I’d never seen him frustrated before that day. He would let out these huffy sounding meows. I guess they were less meows than they were raspy sighs or grunts. All that the little dude wanted in the world that day was a belly rub. He wanted it so bad. We’d be petting him and he’d be liking it so much that, naturally, he’d want to flop over to expose his belly. However, when he rolled onto his side, he couldn’t breathe, so, he’d have to return to sitting upright very quickly. This made him so angry that he would have to leave the room for a bit – but he’d always come back, looking at us, as if to say, “Hey guys, I need some help.” That’s another thing that made him different from other cats. Through the whole process, he never wanted to crawl off and be alone. He wanted to be close, always.

By early evening, he was becoming very weak. He couldn’t walk very well and his legs kept wanting to give out. He could only go a few feet before needing a rest. Sometimes, when I knew where he wanted to go, I would carry him. I had to hold his water bowl under his chin so he could drink. The only thing he could stomach was cat milk, which Stefan had picked up earlier that day. He was becoming more confused and more frustrated.

We knew he wouldn’t last more than 24 hours at that point, and perhaps, he wouldn’t even make it through the night. In preparation, earlier that day, Stefan had done some research on pet services in Toronto, and other vets that we might be able to call if we needed to. As I said, our regular vet was on vacation at the time. Unfortunately, most other vets were not very compassionate and really offered us nothing in the way of assistance. Those who were helpful were far too pricey. Luckily, we happened upon the Pets at Peace website that day, and through them, we were able to get in contact with a suitable mobile veterinarian (Dr. K. Balsara). We initially contacted them in an exploratory sense. We wanted to know our options and what the process would be like. We called Helen at Pets at Peace more than a few times that day. We were so uncertain about what to do. Was it time? Should we have the vet come now? Are we making the right decision for him? Is this what he would want?

We decided it was indeed time and that things were only going to get harder for him. Even if we could get to our vet and get another draining, we knew it wouldn’t last for more than a few days. It was only going to prolong his suffering. Keeping him would only be for our benefit, not his. When we received notice of the vet’s availability, the appointment options were for around 9pm that evening or we wait until after noon the following day. We looked at Littles and then looked at each other and we knew he might not make the night, no matter how much we wanted him to. Even though it was only an hour or two away, we took the evening appointment. She was coming, and it was going to be soon.

Earlier that day, my friend, Kylene, who had also lived with Littles for a time and often took care of him, expressed a desire to come and see him. We made the decision to have the vet come while she was in transit from her home in Barrie and she arrived at our apartment only maybe a half hour or so before the vet arrived. She said her goodbyes. Littles got frustrated at one point and went back into the bedroom to try and get comfortable. We gave him some time, and after a bit, I went back to check on him. I sat with him for a while, petting his back and singing to him. Then he just decided to go for broke and he rolled almost entirely over on to his back. He was going to get his belly rub. He was determined that that was going to happen, as though he knew it might be his last chance. Stefan took his turn with him, said his good byes, and got another belly rub in. Littles then made his way back out to the living room, and shortly after that, the vet arrived.

Dr. Balsara came into our home as though she had been there before. She moved swiftly, but not too swiftly. She listened to our story and pet him and commented on how beautiful he was. She was the one that informed us that his particular colouration, this blue cream, was somewhat rare. She made efforts to make him feel more special to us (as though it were possible). Like she could see his specialness too, and she had only just met him. We appreciated it greatly, even if it was just part of her job. She had me sit with his bed on my lap on the couch, and I held him. Stefan sat beside me, petting him, and Kylene helped the doctor. Dr. Balsara inspected him and administered the sedative, and allowed it a few minutes to take effect. He was quite nervous, having so many people in his space, but we tried our best to calm him. I asked him to trust me. I didn’t cry. I just spoke softly to him and told him it was going to be alright. We were all very brave for him.

Because of dehydration, many of his veins had collapsed, but after very few tries, the euthanasia was administered. And he passed. And it was over. We pet him for quite a while after. Obviously, that was more for us than it was for him at that point. We positioned him on his blanket so that he appeared curled up like he was sleeping. Stefan and I took turns holding him before we finally put his bed back down on the floor in its normal spot. We spoke to the doctor and she gave us all hugs, and told us that we had done the right thing and not to worry. She saw how much we loved him, and because of that I think she loved him a little, too.

We left Littles in his bed for a time. After some good crying and hugging, Kylene eventually went home. By then it was after 10pm.

Helen from Pets at Peace would be there around noon the next day to pick him up and ready him for cremation. This meant that we had him for about 12 hours after he passed. At first, I thought this would be uncomfortable – but, in truth, it was anything but. I needed that time and I am so happy that we had it.

Before the night was out, we put him in a special box that we had procured earlier that day. We folded up his favourite blanket, fitted it into the bottom, and set him on top. We placed a candle and a pot of grass by him and we left the box open over night. Indeed, we didn’t finally close it until Helen arrived the next day.

It was a rough night for both of us. We were at the height of our grief, but we finally went to bed after 1am.

The next morning was almost unbearable. All of his stuff was still around the house. Everywhere we looked, we found reminders of our loss. Even now, we sometimes find ourselves looking for him in his hiding spaces. Like muscle memory, I still look behind the curtains – not because I think that he’ll actually be there – but because that’s what I have been doing every day for so long.

This is the hard part. Not making the life or death decision. Not him taking his last breaths in my arms. It’s learning to live without him. Your brain, because of habit, tricking you into believing, even for a moment, that he’s still around. That’s what’s tough.

About everything else, about how he lived, about how we chose to end it, I am absolutely certain that we did everything 100% right. Everything happened exactly when and how it needed to. Not a moment too soon and not a moment too late – and we do find some relief in knowing that.

We were helped along by many fantastic strangers over the last few days. Our doctors, all three of them, were amazing and attentive. Dr. Elahi called us on Tuesday morning from his home to check on him. He had apparently called the office that day and was worried that we had not tried to contact them yet, so he took the initiative to call us himself. We told him the sad news, and he apologized profusely and sincerely, as though he thought our loss was a personal failing on his part. We thanked him for his efforts and assured him that he had made his last days more comfortable. When Helen arrived to pick him up, she was lovely. Like the doctor the previous night, she listened to our story, commented on how handsome he was, and stroked his fur lovingly. She went over our options with us, compassionately and comprehensively, at our dining room table. She shared very personal stories about her own pets with us, and recounted the reasons why she decided to get into her chosen field. Even though he had passed, she still treated Littles with the utmost respect. We carried him to her car, the back of which was entirely populated with pet beds and pillows. Even though they weren’t with us any more, she wanted to make sure that those pets that she transported were still comfortable. After seeing that, and how she was with him, I trusted her entirely with his care.

We are very sad, and I expect that we will be for some time – but these people, these strangers, helped us immensely and for that we are very grateful.

We are also indebted to the kindness of our family and friends. Without your support – well, I don’t know what we would have done.

Thanks for loving us, and thanks for loving our Little Man. We adored him – he was our baby – and we are so lucky to have had him in our lives for as long as we did.