The Cat Who Wanted To Be My Dog

Despite being allergic to their fur, for years I had thought about getting a dog or cat, but wasn’t sure which one to get. I was single, lived alone and knew that a pet would provide some well needed companionship. While I had both cats and dogs as a child, my preference as an adult male was to have a dog. After all, they are man’s best friend. The problem was that at the time I worked long hours and traveled extensively in my job, which did not allow enough time to take care of a dog. I had a friend who had bought a dog only to have to give it away after a few weeks of ownership, realizing that she could not give it the attention it needed.

After years of debating with myself and going back and forth on what to do, I finally decided it was time to make a commitment and choose one over the other. Another friend (someone who has since become my wife) convinced me that a cat would make a great pet and be best for me. I agreed, but in my heart, even though I realized it would not be the best choice, I still wanted a dog. My future wife and I visited a local animal shelter and picked out a kitten. I intentionally selected one that did not meow incessantly as the last thing I wanted was a cat who would never shut up. I knew that would drive me crazy. I named her J.B. At the time, I had no idea of the level of financial commitment I was making and what an important part that cat would play in my life. Shortly after bringing J.B. home, I took her to the vet for her first check-up. As a result I learned that she had a serious respiratory condition as well as viral herpes in one of her eyes that caused continuous tearing. I then found myself regularly taking J.B. to the vet for follow-up tests and medication. Before I knew it, I had spent over $3,000 to keep her alive through tests, meds and surgical procedures. What had I gotten myself into? I kept telling myself and those around me that maybe I had made a mistake and should have gotten a dog. There was, however, something special about J.B. I sensed she knew that I had committed myself to making her healthy. As a result, in the years that followed, we developed a very special bond. Somehow J.B. knew that I had wanted a dog and, I am convinced that, as a result, acted like one. She was loyal, meeting me at the door when I would come home, following me in and out of rooms and up and down stairs. She would play fetch with a pipe cleaner, seeking it out, returning it and dropping it at my feet with the hope that I would throw it once again. She would lick my face in the morning in order to wake me up and feed her. I had a leash for her and would take her outside for walks, which she loved. One of her favorite things to do was to jump on the sink, have me turn on the water and then drink out of the faucet. When someone would visit me, she had to check them out, acting as my protector. When we first got married, my wife felt that J.B. was jealous of her, protecting me and sleeping between us. She even would drink out of toilets if the lid was left up. J.B., not my wife. In the years between acquiring J.B. and getting married the cat was my best friend and constant companion. She was always there for me. Whether it was moving to several different homes, taking extended trips when she would be left behind for up to several months, being checked in and out of numerous kennels or relocating to another state she was understanding and accepting. The one thing she never accepted, however, was my getting a second cat to keep her company while I was gone. She never liked that cat and always let her know who was the #1 cat in my life. I always felt that she was thankful for the financial sacrifices I had made for her and gave me her unconditional love and loyalty in return.

Last year, at the age of ten, J.B. began to exhibit behaviors that indicated health issues. I took her to the vet where tests were conducted. The diagnosis was that she had kidney disease, a common malady for cats. The vet gave her fluids and I took her home to give her medication. After several days, she once again started eating regularly and gained back enough strength to move around the house, but she was never quite the same. Though a little slower and weaker, one thing that did not change was her love for me and her outward signs of affection. This summer she began to exhibit the same behaviors that she had shown last year. The vet explained that while she had bounced back somewhat last year, the kidney disease had not been “cured” and was once again symptomatic. I hoped that what we had done last year would be enough to help again, but it was not. J.B. had used up a good deal more than her allotted nine lives. She was weak as a result from not eating. If she could not or would not eat, I knew there was very little that could be done for her. After several days of prayer and discussing the matter with my wife, I made the difficult decision to end the life of this loyal, loving friend. I took J.B. to the vet for the last time. We made eye contact and I said “good-bye.“ I gave her to the nurse as I could not bring myself to be in the room when they administered the drug that would give her eternal peace. I like to think that she knew I had made the right choice for both of us, but to this day I grapple with guilt wondering whether or not there was something I did to cause her illness or if I could have done more than I did to help her. In the end I realize that I did everything I could have or should have done for J.B. not only then, but over her entire life. During that time I spent over $10,000 to help keep this wonderful companion well and extending her life as long as possible. What I received in return was truly priceless. While she was a cat, J.B. acted like a dog and was indeed this man’s best friend.

David from OR