Friday, August 2, 2013

Oliver Friday: Some sad news

For part of this summer on this blog, I had instituted a weekly photo of my cat, called Oliver Friday.  When I began this, I did it with the knowledge that it would not last forever.  I did it as a way to pay tribute to the sweetest cat in all the world.  I knew it would be temporary because last February we found out that Oliver has cancer.

One day as Oliver was cuddling with me before bed, I noticed a lump on his ribcage under his arm.  I was unsure what this was, as Oliver is a pretty big cat, and he has a lot of extra body mass rolling around his frame.  It didn't seem right, so I made an appointment with the vet.  After a biopsy, it was revealed that Oliver has a sort of a fibrous sarcoma.  The vet was concerned, as this type of tumor is typically associated with the area in which animals are vaccinated when they are young.  Apparently the vets now vaccinate in a leg or arm in case a tumor starts growing in that area, and they have the ability to amputate a limb if necessary.

You can see his tumor here.

Ultimately, Andy and I decided that we were not going to treat the cancer.  We were going to let Oliver live the rest of his life in relative peace until it was time to let him go.  He's had a long and happy life, and we did not want the end of his life to be full of medical procedures.  Since then we've been monitoring him closely.  It's so difficult to know how he's feeling, but there have been little signs.  His meow sounds a little different, diminished, almost scratchy like he's tired.  He's begun laying primarily on his left side now that the tumor has increased in size.  He has smaller tumors growing under his belly, which indicates the spread of the cancer.  He's eating less, but he's still eating.  We've decided to let him go in a couple of weeks.

A little background on Oliver's life:

When I was about 16, I was coming home from marching band practice, and while stepping onto my front porch, I noticed a tiny gray and white kitty all alone.  I quickly called to my mom and brought him inside.  Concerned that this little guy had wandered away from someone's house, the next day I posted flyers around the neighborhood and surrounding area, looking for his owner.  I'll never know where he actually came from, because no one claimed him.  At that time we had a dog, Abby & another cat, Charles.  My mom was gracious enough to let him stay, and I named him Oliver, because he was just a little orphan!

Certain memories:
-My aunt predicting his eventual size from the size of his paws as a kitten.  "Look at how big they are!  He's going to be a big cat".  Considering he's been about 18 lbs for the majority of his life, I'd say he lived up to that prediction, (and it's not all fat, I swear).
-Having a sleep-over with my friends and Oliver attacking their heads while they slept, haha. :)
-When he was a kitten he'd play tug of war with toys while growling like a dog, play fetch, play so hard he'd pant, and jump so high he'd soar!

In a couple of years, I successfully launched from home with my entrance into college, under the pretext that when I was able to, I'd take the cats from my mom's house (she wasn't too fond of the fur).  Years went by, Abby and Charles passed on, and Oliver was the remaining animal in my mom's house.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to take Oliver until a couple years ago, when I was actually living in a place that I could have my own pet.  As soon as I moved into this current apartment, I immediately drove back to Michigan to pick up Oliver and bring him with me to Chicago.

At this point, Oliver was now 12 years old.  I knew that I'd have him for as long as he had left, and I was determined to make the rest of his life as enjoyable as possible.  Over the past two years, I've seen him grow and flourish in my home.  Although he has remained a scaredy cat till the end with strangers, I have successfully worked with him to eliminate his fear of the sound of traffic, ceiling fans, the outdoors, and much more.  Although he is still afraid of strangers, he is actually a lot better than he used to be and does come out to see people occasionally.  I've also spoiled the crap out of him.  I've got cat grass, fresh & dried cat-nip, a basket full of toys (which he mostly ignores), treats, and the best food for his old, aging body.  I'll leave boxes and tissue paper on the living room floor for days/weeks because he likes to sit on them.

He's always known me and remembered me his whole life (every time I'd go to my mom's house).  However, these past two years, with the absence of a cat-companion, I became Oliver's "person".  He chose me to be his companion, just like he chose our family 14 years ago on our front porch.  Oliver has been such a extremely exceptional pet, it's been hard to imagine him not being here anymore.  I know it will take a long time to stop seeing him out the corner of my eye or to expect him to be right around the corner.  I'll miss him scream/meowing at me for food/comfort/play time.  I'll miss having conversations in general with him:

A typical conversation:

"Who's that kitty?!"
"Who's that little boo boo?!?!"
"What do you want?"

He's such a talkative, loving, and interactive cat.  I keep telling people, they can have their energetic aloof cats, I'll take my old, gigantic, slow & lovey cat every day of the week.  I've never met a cat like him, and I'll never find one like him again.  I'm going to miss him so much.  Here's to celebrating his 14 long years of life.

I'll miss you, little guy.


  1. That picture in the box? The best ever. Melts by my heart.

  2. A beautiful tribute, Laurie. Each picture is so endearing it brings back wonderful memories of this exceptional cat and how he is now woven into our own life stories. We all love him dearly and he will be very much missed. Thank you for sharing his life story as I now have him close to my heart. <3 you Oliver.