Yesterday, after around 13 years of having a great friend, we had to put our cat Dakota to sleep.  We rescued Dakota back in 2000 at the local Humane Society in Tampa, FL.

I’ll never forget the day that my wife was begging us to get a dog.  We weren’t married yet, but we went down to the local animal shelter on Armenia Ave to see what we could find.  Unexpectedly, we went past the cat cages and there was Dakota rubbing her face all over the cage putting on the charm.  Right there, I saw an instant companion – Or at least I thought I did.

When in the visiting room, I was holding Dakota in my lap saying “Jenny, this is a lap cat.”  Really, Dakota was NOT a lap cat.  At the time, she was extremely scared but I had seen enough charm in her cage that I knew she was friendly.  My wife had a different opinion.   So, needless to say, we didn’t adopt a dog that day (that would be a few years later).  When we got the cat home, she hid under the chair for 3 days.

Slowly, Dakota became adjusted but definitely had some behavior issues and we thought we brought home a nightmare.  So it was off to the vet to get her checked out and see why she was acting like she was in heat.  Surely she was already fixed, right?  WRONG!  The cat was still going into her heat cycle!  So, she got fixed a 2nd time.  I guess only part of her ovaries were removed?  I don’t know but that’s what the vet said.  The Humane Society was shocked but actually felt horrible and reimbursed us for part of the procedure.  After all that, she became a much more balanced (still some minor issues from time to time) cat and really became a sweet companion.

Dakota really didn’t get along with other animals but around 2004 we adopted a Great Pyrenees (Chloe).  I never wrote before about Chloe but we lost Chloe in October of 2010.  Chloe had a heart murmur that eventually took her but she lived a good long life to the age of 11.  Well, when we first brought Chloe into our home, the cat was furious.  But Dakota was able to adjust and get along with the dog the best she ever would and I think they actually had made some kind of bond because every now and then, we found them hanging out in the same room together.

Not too far after Chloe passed on, Dakota started to exhibit some strange neurological behaviors.  The vet thought she might have had a mini stroke but it was apparent that Dakota was becoming arthritic as well.  It seems that this was the slow decline of her longevity.  She was no longer able to jump up without losing her balance and she was beginning to have problems the litter box and upset stomach. Dakota also had a ravaging skin allergy which we were treating her for with Atopica.  So after a period of about a year and a half, and after exhausting all remedies and providing as many comfort stations as I could, it was apparent that she could no longer live a normal life with dignity.

Yesterday, I took Dakota to the vet to see what else we could do but the realization came that really, there was nothing else.  Dakota could no longer tolerate examinations and the medication we gave her was starting to change our relationship with Dakota.  So we made the decision to let her go but I know in my heart of hearts it was the right thing to do and we did everything we could to make Dakota as comfortable as possible.  I guess Dakota could have kept going as she never quite lost her appetite but her digestive problems were the most significant concern and I could no longer stand to see her straining.

Just a few weeks ago, for the first time ever, Dakota actually laid in my lap and became my “lap cat.”  Dakota, we will always miss you.

— Pat from Fleming Island, FL