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Dateline Seattle: Sylvester

(Note: This article was written by my high school classmate at the Ateneo de Naga, Manny O. Aureus, who lives in New York. I took the liberty of sharing his story because it shows how owning a pet can teach us how deal with life and death.) Goodbye, Sylvester Today, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017, as I meditated in church, I thanked Almighty God for giving me Sylvester. Sylvester was my beloved pet cat whom God had given to me. Sylvester gave me more than eight years of laughter, happiness, goodness and love. I believe that he is now in heaven enjoying his “happy hunting grounds.” I believe animals have a place in heaven, for the Bible cites many passages about animals in heaven. For example, Revelation mentions the time when Christ and the armies of heaven will come in white horses. And the passage about the wolf that will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard that will lie with the goat. Genesis says that animals are all part of God’s creation. Before I had Sylvester I was not really fond of cats because I had an allergic reaction to cats. My wife was fond of cats. She always loved cats ever since she was a child. I remember telling her once, in jest, that she had to choose between me and adopting a cat. But things turned around when a stray cat gave birth to several kittens at the back of my office. My employees did not want them, although they kept on feeding them, but when I told my wife about those kittens at the back of my office I ended up bringing home 2 of them. I was waiting for my allergies to erupt, but surprisingly, no allergies came. So for me that was the beginning of life with Sylvester and his sister Kitkat in our home. Many things began to change around the house. Our faces began to lighten up and boredom was conquered by the presence of Sylvester who was very playful. I even told my son secretly that we now have an excuse if we broke things up or messed things up in the kitchen. Sylvester did it. Whenever we had visitors, Sylvester was always there to entertain. A couple of years ago he won the Halloween costume contest at my wife’s office. He was the only cat who won among the cats and dogs that joined. He received a $500 prize in pet services but the sponsoring pet company was mainly for dog grooming so my wife gave away his prize to a co-worker whose dog lost in the contest. Sylvester was about three years old when I retired. He was always there beside me when I was busy with my computer. He kept me company when I was recuperating from bypass surgery. He developed a habit of sleeping at the foot of our bed every night. Sylvester would always occupy a big part of my heart and a small part in the hearts of thousands of people who have laughed and smiled as they watched his you tube funny cat boxer video. Several weeks ago Sylvester was diagnosed with lymphoma which had already penetrated his lymph nodes. This type of cancer spread fast. He deteriorated rapidly and we tried to make him as comfortable as possible by giving him all the attention and care he needed. My wife and I wanted to bring him to be euthanized but we always felt some guilt. In fact the week before he died we decided to bring him the next day to be euthanized. That night I told my wife what we thought was “impossible” by saying that if Sylvester came up our stairs on the second floor to our bed, we won’t bring him to the vet to be euthanized. I said impossible because he could not even walk 5 feet to his litter box. To our amazement, about 11 pm that night as we were about to sleep, Sylvester slowly appeared in our bedroom door and crawled to our bed and lay down by my feet. My wife and I could not believe it. She immediately got a small warm blanket and partly covered Sylvester who looked very tired but kept purring loudly in comfort and happiness of being able to lie down again in his warm spot by our bed. We both patted him and he continued purring as he lay down and fell asleep until morning. One windy day about three days before he passed away I placed him outside our small garden and watched him while he was still awed by the falling leaves. A couple of squirrels caught his attention and this made his frail and failing body instinctively try to chase them. The day before he died, I saw him looking at his favorite spot in the house, so I carried him to his favorite window spot and let him stay there for a while. Then I carried him around the house and to another favorite spot by our kitchen window. That night I told my son I was bringing Sylvester to the vet the next day. My son was going out of state that night so I said he better say goodbye to Sylvester. As my son brushed Sylvester’s hair and patted him, we could hear Sylvester’s purring as if he knew this was the last goodbye. I left the house to bring my son to the airport and when I came back my wife told me that Sylvester cried out in a strange sound several times. We were not sure if he was in pain or just plain crying. This was the first time she heard him cry ever since he got sick. She was telling me this while Sylvester was now lying comfortably in our sofa wrapped in a warm towel. That night around 11:30 pm I checked on Sylvester again and brushed his head while he purred softly as if he was assuring me that everything will be fine. Around 4:30 am, Saturday, I woke up and decided to check on Sylvester. I did not see him on the sofa but saw him a few feet away lying down and not breathing. He was still warm but lifeless. I tried pumping his heart with my fingers to no avail. I woke up my wife and told her to come down. We both gently placed his lifeless body in his small bed and covered him with a blanket. I said a little prayer for him and waited for the break of dawn to make arrangements for my beloved cat that has brought me so much happiness. Indeed he was God’s gift to us. Farewell, dear Sylvester. Thank you for all the joys you gave to our house.

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