I've now had to put two cats to sleep in the last 5 months. If you know me well, you know that underneath my smart-alecky, nothing-bothers-me exterior, I am the biggest sucker you've ever seen for an animal. I cried reading the dust jacket for Marley and Me. I was nearly inconsolable when I read Charlotte's Web as a fourth-grader. The Secret of Nimh almost put me over the edge. I read the first four pages of the Black Stallion and put that crap back on the shelf. Old Yeller? Won't touch it with a ten-foot pole. So, when I found out a month ago, that Newton had renal cancer, I was pretty upset. And then this past weekend, when a sore on his paw broke open and started oozing, I knew the end was near. None of that made it any easier to make the decision to put him to sleep. My brain understands that it was the right decision. His quality of life was poor. But my heart still hurts. So, if you want to keep reading, here are some of my favorite memories of Newton.
When we first got Newton, he had already been named "Murphy." Another family had adopted him, but for some reason got rid of him, all before he was 10-weeks old. We didn't like the name "Murphy" and wanted to stick with the science theme. We debated naming him "Copernicus" and "Neutron" before settling on Newton. We were pretty sure that he had been stuck out in the garage because he had a black grease spot on his one leg. After a bath (boy, that was fun) we realized that spot was just a black patch of fur. For his entire life, people thought he had some sort of dirt on him.
Not long after we adopted him, he ended up with a cold. And it wasn't just the sniffles. Newton never did anything small. He had a full-blown, boogers-and-snot head cold. He'd sneeze and sneeze and sneeze and then a projectile of boogers would fly across the room. We found crusty boogers on everything. I finally took him for some antibiotics when I woke up one morning coated in kitty boogers. Endearing, huh?
Newton grew into a monster-sized cat. And poor Galileo, who had lived a peaceful existence for an entire year, now had to share his humans and his house. Newton liked Leo. Leo tolerated Newton.
Newton didn't realize he was a cat. He didn't do the normal cat things. He wanted to be around people. If you came to the door, he came to check you out. He especially enjoyed visitors with fake fingernals. (He had a serious case of elevator butt around those with good fingernails.) If you ignored him, he would seek you out. And at 19 pounds, he was hard to ignore. When I would try to take photos of him, he never stayed put. He always walked over and investigated the camera. I got to the point to where I would have to sneak pictures. As soon as he saw me, he came over looking for some love.
Also, he would shed like a fiend, so if you ignored him, you'd end up with a leg full of soft white fur. And he hated kitty treats. What cat hates kitty treats? He just turned his nose up. He was too good for that. He loved to be brushed, but he would only tolerate it for so long. When he'd had enough he would eat the brush.
There are two things that I am going to miss terribly: The first is our afternoon naps. When the kids were babies, I would put them down for a nap and then I would go take one myself. Newton was always waiting for me in my bed. My kids are now 11 and almost 9, yet he never forgot that tradition. I would come home from school and lay down on the couch, and it would take about 30 seconds for him to come find me and plant himself in the middle of my chest. I got to the point to where I napped better with that 19-pound weight one me.
The second thing that I am going to miss is the noise. He was the noisiest damn cat I ever met. He talked back to me. And he purred like a dump truck. His whole body vibrated when he purred. It used to make J absolutely insane. We'd go to bed at night, and a couple of minutes later, the entire bed would shake when he launched that massive body up on the bed. Then he would try to sneak up by my head to sleep. The problem was that he completely lacked a silent mode. It felt like the whole room shook from his purring. And then he'd throw in these random noises that sounded not-of-this-earth. And J would shove him off of the bed. And Newton would wait for J to fall asleep and then crawl right back up by my head. Over the years, I got used to the noise.
Rest in Peace, Newt Patoot. It's going to be a quiet night.