Friday, July 25, 2014

Our Valiant Survivor Finds Eternal Peace

Why does a beloved cat ever have to leave? I know, everything that’s born has to die, every story has a beginning and an end, no one lives forever and it can’t reasonably be expected that even those we deeply care for will always be by our side, but the heart
says otherwise. Yes, they will all leave one day but not yet, not today, not tomorrow, not next week, not next year, not ever…

Suddenly and unexpectedly, Speki has crossed over to the other side. Or maybe it wasn’t that unexpectedly – he
must have been at an advanced age although no one had any way of knowing exactly how old he was. He had FLUTD and liver problems, his lymph nodes had been swollen since he first arrived at the shelter, he’d definitely been through hell and back in his supposedly
long but not easy life… But when some gorgeous furry creature, beautiful inside and out, tugs on our heartstrings, almost all objectivity is lost and perhaps we see just what we want to see and don’t even want to think about something we can’t bear to think of – and
that is, sooner or later, a sad but inevitable end of a fairytale.

Speki was one of Etela’s cats, one of those amazing fighters which managed to survive a devastating fire that destroyed the cat and dog shelter they lived
in a little more than three years ago. They witnessed a fierce blaze consuming the only home they knew while listening to the terrifying crackling sounds of a house in flames, the horrendous noise of exploding glass and the loud barking of hundreds of dogs
scared beyond scared. But there was no one to help, no one they could turn to; far away from any human settlement, the horror they endured was theirs and theirs alone. They must’ve been aware that dozens of their mates didn’t make it and died a dreadful
and painful death; they had no way of knowing that weeks later someone would come to their rescue. Discouraged and desperate, but not defeated, they were living one day at the time, ultimately determined to survive, to live and tell their story of anguish and
hope, a story that could be seen in their haunted but wise and forgiving eyes.

Unfortunately, for Speki and two other kitties, the tragedy they went through, the biggest tragedy that could happen to any living being, was not the last one.
Before several massive rescue missions took place, all three of them were picked up from the site of the fire and sent to some “wild” shelter near Belgrade in which, instead of finding safety, care and love, the only thing they found was yet another horror.
Three months later they arrived here, confused, emaciated, terrifyingly thin, full of worms and fleas, with ear mange and a fungal disease. Speki was in the worst condition of all due to his neuter surgery (done some time earlier), which left him with an infected
incision, tons of pus and in dire need of an urgent revision of his wound. Up until now, I still don’t know whose fault it was and I don’t care; the point is that no animal in the world should live out a real life horror movie twice. And that’s exactly what happened to him and
his two unfortunate friends.

When Speki finally reached this veritable safe haven, his life took a different turn, a turn for the better. No more pitch darkness in closed, dirty rooms, no more sadness and inhibition, no more
just dreaming of green grass and clear skies. He had all the open space he wanted, where he could do everything he could think of - sleep on the roof, rest in the shade, leap through the new fresh snow and enjoy the warmth of the heated cat rooms during the
winter if he felt like it. He had found his earthly heaven, where food bowls are always full, where tranquility rules and last but not the least, where someone cared. While obviously enjoying his new life, he gained a lot of weight and became a gorgeous and magnificent kitty
boy yearning to love and to be loved. Wildly affectionate and determined to cuddle whenever possible, he used to jump on people’s shoulders and climb on their heads, all of that accompanied by loud purring. Big and strong, he was sweet as can be.

But nothing lasts forever and even the happiest stories must end sometime. There were no warning signs at all, nothing to prepare me for finding him motionless and unresponsive one morning, still alive but barely conscious. I
rushed him to the vet with a dark feeling of impending doom, as I somehow knew he wouldn’t make it back. The vet confirmed my worst fear – Speki’s body temperature was 35.4°C and although he was being given warm infusions from the moment we
dashed into the ambulance, he was rapidly sinking into unconsciousness and we all knew his time had come. In those rare split seconds when he was himself again, he was trying to lick my hand, but those instants were getting shorter and more scattered and
we simply could not let him be dying for hours. On the vet’s suggestion, I had to make that heartbreaking decision every cat owner fears, the one that none of us will ever forget – to mercifully put him down. Even though I knew it was the final act of compassion and
the last gift of love, my heart shattered into a million pieces while I was watching him through tears as he was crossing to the other side. But however hard it may be, I feel we must take responsibility for those who can’t decide for themselves; I wanted him to pass
away peacefully, beautiful, dignified and loved until the end, and that’s exactly how he left.

The shelter doesn’t look the same without him, life is not the same. He was so special and so full of love that he simply couldn’t be
overlooked and I still can’t believe he’s not here anymore. Or maybe he is, in the warm breeze, in the deep blue summer night, in the quick rain shower, or in a sparkling rainbow? Someone with such a strong desire to live, astonishingly brave and with a heart of
gold, can’t just leave those he loved…

Fly free now, my shining star, my wonderful furry darling made of affection, warmth and light. Go bravely on and soar in total freedom until we meet again.

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