One hot July day back in 2000 (I was not yet 17), my mom and I went up to PetsMart to get her the tuxedo kitten she had always wanted. While she was playing with the litter of kittens, I wandered into the room where the adult cats were being held and casually walked by glancing at them, stopping to pet them if they seemed accepting. While browsing, I saw this sweet face staring up at me.
When I extended my hand to pet him through the metal bars of the kennel he was being held in, he willingly accepted my touch. After a few minutes I left to check on my mom. Seeing as she was still playing with the kitties, I went back to see my friend. As soon as I entered the room he threw himself up against the metal bars and started purring louder then I’ve ever heard a cat purr before.
That was it.
The next thing I knew, I was unlatching the gate to his kennel where he willingly fell into my arms. I walked out of the room holding that cat and my mom knew we weren’t leaving without him in tow, and we didn’t.
It was unknown how old Simba was when we got him, but they estimated he was about a year old. July 30th of every year we celebrate this sweet boys birthday, this year he’ll be turning 16 years old.
Simba isn’t like any other cat, and I don’t say that with a bias, I say it because it’s true. He has without a doubt one of the best personalities you’d ever find in a cat. He loves to have his belly rubbed, car rides, and his favorite thing on the entire planet is to be brushed…yep, you heard me correctly, he loves being brushed. In fact, he’ll love anyone anywhere (even the vet) if you’re willing to brush his fur for him.
If you can see it, he’s wearing a harness. Simba hates cat carriers, but loves to be walked, in fact he’ll walk on a leash if you’ll let him (like a dog). He also has the coolest mustache that always attracts comments. Simba is also a lover. He’ll willingly jump into anyone’s lap that’s offering it up.
Together, we’ve been through a great deal. Simba was the leading man in my life for a very long time, and if you promise not to tell my husband, sometimes he still is. When I think back to some of my hardest, most emotional moments, he was there, always willing to snuggle next to me through my tears, listen, and accept me for who I was. (He also loved participating in the joyous occasions too, I’m telling you, Simba is people).
He was weary when E came home, but accepted her because she was a part of me. He’s very tolerant of her, though not always thrilled when she makes very loud noises or tries to tug on his tail. But, alas, through years of teaching E that the quickest way to Simba’s heart is by offering to brush him, he’s warmed up to her…sort of.
And honestly, it was a pretty rapid progression. Simba got very skinny, very fast and stopped grooming himself (which is not who he is, this cat used to be full of static because he groomed himself so much- hence why he loves being brushed). He also started losing large amounts of hair. After consulting with his vet we switched him to an all wet food diet of a specific brand (he has thyroid and digestion issues, so he needs very simple, easily digested, all natural food). When we made this switch he put on some weight, grew all his hair back and was starting to look like his old self.
Until he didn’t.
Simba now has lost even more weight (which I didn’t think was possible), has stopped grooming himself, has a hard time making it all the way into the litter box, and is having a hard time standing without leaning side to side of walking straight. He’s still eating, but minimally, and he still loves that damn brush, for now.
Today, I made one of the hardest phone calls of my life. I called his vet and explained the situation. While we scheduled it as a consultation, I think his vet, myself, and Simba know what the next steps are, and I hate it. While I’ve lost pets before, none were pets that I have been so intimately bonded to. None were pets that picked me as he did on that fateful July day. None were as special and unique as my Doodle bug, Simba.
So, as we prepare for his appointment next week, we’re spending our days with lots of sunshine (he loves to sunbathe), all his favorite food selections (he prefers giblets with gravy over pate’s), and lots of brushing. While I know the likely outcome of that appointment is what’s fair and humane for my sweet boy, thinking of a world void of my Doodle bug, isn’t one I’m looking forward to.