We lost a beloved member of our immediate family early last month our friendly, cuddly male cat Cooper.
While some people might question calling a pet a member of the family, it clearly is. We feed them, take care of them, groom them and take them to veterinarian appointments on a regular basis. Just as we did for our kids while they were growing up, we made sure Cooper and our dog, Buddy, both got their checkups and shots.
With our children now adults and living on their own, my wife, Lynne, and I would look forward to having our pets sit next to us on the couch while watching our favorite TV shows at night.
So, yes, our pets are very much part of our families, and the loss of one of them saddens us greatly.
In Cooper’s case, he wasn’t old, even in cat years; he was 10½, and we had him for 10 of those years, having adopted him at 6 months old, on New Year’s Eve in 2013.
Cooper was a rambunctious youngster: he enjoyed running through the house and playing with his cat toys and scratching post, and jumping on and off his cat “tree house,” a contraption lined with soft fabric that let him safely climb at will.
When we added Buddy to our household two years later, Cooper accepted his canine brother, and the two of them played together – though sometimes we’d be forced to break them up when their play became a bit too rough.
Cooper was healthy for most of his life, but in December, we began noticing signs of him having trouble breathing. Lynne took him to the vet’s office, and asthma was originally suspected. But when he didn’t respond to the medicine and his breathing worsened, the vet suspected he had a mass in his throat or chest.
By then, Cooper was really suffering, and even if an expensive X-ray procedure confirmed the mass, we were told that there was no guarantee that anything could be done for him.
So, considering how much he was suffering – he was barely breathing at that point – we made the difficult decision to say goodbye to Cooper. That sad day was Jan. 8, and we still miss Cooper terribly.
He slept with Lynne most nights, but he would roam the house at night, and he loved to come into the room where I sleep downstairs.
I usually remembered to close the door when I got up in the middle of the night, but whenever I’d leave the door even slightly ajar, Cooper would run in.
Since his passing, I still find myself closing the door, and I still expect to see him sleeping on one of his cat beds or other favorite resting spots. I still look for him, as we’d do if he hadn’t shown his face for a couple of hours. I miss him curling up on my lap.
Cooper was affectionate to the end.
On the very morning of what would be his last day, he cuddled up with me in bed, as if he knew how much pain my back was in due to three-plus weeks of coughing.
But that was Cooper, an empathetic, cuddly, cute and loving cat. And that’s only one of many reasons why the entire family will forever love him and cherish our memories of him.
LARRY KESSLER (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a freelance writer based in North Attleboro. He blogs at larrytheklineup.blogspot.com.