We lost our beautiful boy on Tuesday. He was in full renal failure and there really wasn't anything they could do for him. The vet told us that we could throw all the money in the world at the situation and it wouldn't save him; maybe buy him a few more days. But, what kind of a few more days would have that been? He wasn't even two yet. I think that is what makes this the hardest. You don't expect your not even two year old, bought from a reputable breeder cat to die so early in life.
But, it happens.
This is the first of our furry family members that Mr. K and I have lost together. It's hard. I'm doing better today than I was Tuesday, but even just writing the title of this blog brought the tears again. That said, he was such a beautiful soul, so full of life and spirit that I don't want to fill his tribute post full of sad thoughts. I want to celebrate his life. And, so this is our Rufio's story.
We got him from a breeder in England. We had researched like crazy and picked the Siberian Forest cat breed because they were considered to be low allergen. Mr. K is allergic to cats, but absolutely loves them and so for his birthday, we added a new fur kid to our family. We took the train to get him. We met his brothers and the rest of the Siberians the breeder had. We nearly took one of his brothers with us because he was so adorable, but we tried to make the responsible decision and only took one kitten. Rufio, also known as Witchfyre Rudolph Valentino, was supposed to be a show cat. He was also supposed to be the stud for our cattery. None of this was to be because we moved back to Canada. Finding him a wife proved incredibly difficult and we eventually just had him neutered. I was glad then we had for various reasons, but now I'm even more happy because Rufio had kidney disease which can be hereditary in Siberians. I guess the breed is prone to Poly-cystic Kidney Disease. I had no idea.
The first night we had him, we had to stay in a hotel. We missed our train back to Edinburgh and were stuck. We smuggled him into the hotel and set him free in our hotel room. Mr. K and I went down to eat some supper and I worried the whole time that the wee guy would hurt himself. When we returned, he was absolutely fine. We did have food for him, but no litter box. We kept praying that he wouldn't pee on the hotel carpet. He didn't. Instead, he used my shirt I had thrown on the floor before collapsing exhausted into bed. Thankfully, I had been wearing layers and he only peed on one layer.
He was the most inquisitive, animated and brave thing from the moment we got home. He used to try to sneak out the flat door when I took the dogs out, so I'd have to shut him in Mr. K's man cave where his litter box was until I got back. He used to yell his little head off until I got back and released him. He used to roll around in his litter box and eventually take a nap in there. He was mad for chicken. If you weren't paying attention, he'd steal chicken bones right off your plate and take off with them. He used to go under one of our couches so he could crack the bone open and eat the marrow out in peace. Even when he didn't even weigh 3 LBS, he would growl at the dogs if they came near his hideout while he ate his chicken.
We used to have one of those fishing rod toys with the feathers on the end. If he ever caught it, he would grab a hold and pull it under that same couch and growl at you if you tried to pull him back out. He fancied himself quite the hunter. He would get up on to Mr. K's desk and attack the characters on the screen while Mr. K played video games. His favourite snuggle spot, when he was still small enough, was on Mr. K's chest. However, eventually he got way too big and had to be satisfied laying on the couch beside us.
That little spunky kitten grew up and moved continents. He took the move well and made himself right at home in his new, way bigger, house. One of his favourite places to hang out was on top of the laundry hamper in front of the front window. Sometimes I wouldn't get the laundry upstairs, and he would hop up on to the basket and spend part of his day surveying the outside world from his comfy perch. The cupboards in our old place didn't close properly and he would open them up, go inside and hang out. You'd be cooking, or washing the dishes and suddenly a paw would come out of the cupboard door and tap you on the leg. If you were cooking he would push the door open a crack so he could snoopervise. We had one cupboard designated for plastic bags and he would go in there and swim around like a maniac. If you put any kind of box, especially if it still had packing paper, or those re-useable grocery bags on the floor he would try to stuff himself into it. We would never throw boxes out right away after buying stuff online because he got so much enjoyment out of thrashing about in the box with the packing paper.
He only ever got out once at our old place in Canada and it happened to be raining that morning. I went looking for him to give him breakfast and was concerned when he didn't come to his name when I called him. He always came to his name. I think his recall was better than the dogs. As I went through the house, calling his name, opening cupboards and closets, I heard him meow at me. I couldn't figure out where it was coming from. Finally, I woke Mr. K up, since he hears better than I do, and he came looking for him. There Rufio was, sitting on the back deck waiting for us to let him in. He never tried to leave again. Although he did push the second story window screen out one day so he could sit on the window sill outside.
He loved water. Siberians are known for this, but I was still surprised when I'd be having a shower and he'd hop in and hang out. We tried spraying him with the kitchen nozzle for getting into the sink and not leaving, but he didn't care. That triple layer coat of his made him nearly water proof like a Labrador.
His love of food never failed, until the end of course. He would hear a can open, and no matter what it was, he would come running yelling his head off. I think that is pretty typical cat behaviour, but what wasn't typical was how long he was and how that length allowed him to reach up to the counter top. He would hear a can, come running and then stretch himself up to reach whatever was on the counter. He would even get on the counter top, open the upper cupboards and steal the dehydrated meat treats I had made for the dogs. He used to open our hall closet because he wanted the dog food. We had to put a stop to that because dog food is not good for cats, but it was genius how he would know just where to push on the folding closet door to get it to open.
Looking back now, I think he was sick for longer than we knew. At some point his reliable recall dwindled a bit and I thought it was just because he was a cat and that he was growing up. He didn't feel the need to run to us all of the time. Whenever he heard Mr. K wake up, he would jump off of wherever he was and go running to greet him. Again, at some point this behaviour decreased a bit, but we didn't take notice. He was a cat.
Rufio and Otis used to be the best battle buddies. Rufio got less tolerant of the battling, but we thought it was because Otis was a bit too persistent. And, it could have been, but you look back and you wonder. Otis used to grab Rufio out from behind the curtain by the tail. Rufio taught Otis to wrap your arms around your victim and kick with your back paws. Otis still does this.
We got Kira in July to keep Rufio company at night when we were sleeping. He had started chewing things, including my bra straps, and we thought he was lonely. Of course there was a warm-up phase, but after that the two cats would have what the girls and I dubbed a long time ago "Kitten Olympics." They would race around, thundering up and down the hall. Not soon after Rufio started becoming intolerant of her kitten tendencies too. He became more withdrawn and we thought we had made a mistake bringing another cat into the house. We thought his behaviour was all because of her appearance.
I don't quite remember what made us think he was sick, but I remember Otis going to play with Rufio and Rufio growling at him. That had never happened before. He had basically stopped eating, but was still drinking. He had lost a lot of weight and we brought him in to the vet. They ran blood work and diagnosed him then with Pancreatitis which I have no doubt he had, but she never told us how bad his kidney levels were.
They put him on steroids and we were giving him subcutaneous fluids at home. He seemed to be bouncing back. He wanted food again, he had started weaving between our legs and purring again. Oh, he was the best purr machine. Siberians are known for their motors and Rufio was no exception. He was even reaching on to the counter tops again. We moved about a week after his first vet visit and he started declining again. We had been told to reduce his medicine and we had. So, we increased it again as they had said to if he started declining. The vet had told us that his kidney levels were "slightly elevated" and that we would have to get them checked again, but not for a few months if he got better.
When we took him in to the new vet on Tuesday and he read the faxed over records from the old vet, he informed us that a month ago Rufio's kidneys were only functioning at 30 percent. We were angry. "Slightly elevated" levels does not equal only 30 percent functioning. We had a long discussion with the vet about what kidney disease meant and what renal failure meant. We talked about how far gone Rufio was and what was best for him. We talked about how a month ago he was really sick then and that we had done all we could by giving him the subcutaneous fluids. The vet actually seemed a bit impressed that we had done that at home. It was an easy decision in that we knew what we needed to do for him, but it was the most painful decision because letting him go was so permanent.
He was such a beautiful cat. When I had carried him out on Tuesday, wrapped in a blanket with only his tail sticking out, the cab driver thought I was carrying a fox because of how big and full his tail was.
Part of you wonders "what if?" What if we had known a month ago? What if we had known something was wrong months ago? But, ultimately, the vet told us that kidney disease wins and you never know how much time you actually will have with them. Maybe it's better we didn't know because instead of spending the last few months worrying about him and him picking up on that, all he knew was love and happiness.
We left him in the vet's capable hands. The vet said Rufio was so far gone that he didn't even know what was going on around him. He wasn't in pain which made us both feel better.
Aside from Rufio's good looks, massive purr and soft coat, that cat brought so much life to our household. We will miss him very much and will never forget his crazy antics. Kira looked for him Tuesday night which was heart breaking, but I think she is doing okay. She and Otis have become Royal Rumble buddies and I think that is good.
So, Rufio: I hope you found your way across the rainbow bridge. I hope you found Sasha and the other furry family members already up there. I hope you found the biggest pile of plastic bags ever imaginable and I hope there is the biggest box filled with the most paper ever possible waiting for you. I will never forget the cat who turned me from just dog lover to cat lover too.
Here's to you Rufacus Maximus.