My sister lost her elderly long-haired ginger tomcat a few months ago. The cat had been with her through thick and thin, including three moves, a home invasion, her getting married and merging households with her husband's silver tabby and Golden Retriever, the death of both the silver tabby and the first Golden Retriever, the acquisition of the second Golden Retriever as a puppy, and the arrival of Guest Kitty, a small, declawed strong tortoise cat who is very, very sweet. The Big Orange Cat was her heart cat. She mourned him horribly. Now Guest Kitty is also terminally ill.
Guest Kitty had a small fatty tumor on the left cheekbone near her eye that I noticed when staying with my sister and brother-in-law a couple of years ago while Mom was in the hospital in the Big City. When they took Guest Kitty for a thyroid checkup, the vet thought it was a harmless fatty lipoma and told them as much. As such, nothing to do about it but kind of let it alone.
I love this little cat. She got out of the house last summer and we had to blanket the neighborhood with fliers to try to get her home. After a couple of weeks, some people just over the rise found her on their porch and phoned. Guest Kitty came home. We were a little frantic until she was safely back at my sister's house.
Guest Kitty has a parlor trick that's really endearing; she will pat you gently on the shin when she wants attention. If that fails, she'll get on the furniture closest to your face and pat you lightly on the cheek. She also sleeps with me when I'm staying there, hence "Guest Kitty". My own tortoise cat is hateful, so I really appreciate how sweet this one is, too.
Yesterday, my sister called as I was on my way to an out-of-town doctor's appointment. After several minutes of her explaining how sick Guest Kitty is, I said I'd drive on over to the Big City (another sixty miles) to see her. Guest Kitty will likely not be with us much longer- she has what the vet believes is a very aggressive cancerous tumor on her lower jaw. It's enormous, invasive, and the poor thing is suffering. They will have to make the decision soon, because she's not going to live through this.
I picked her up a few times and carried her around their house. She's drooling freely because of the tumor, so we'd wipe her mouth and chin with a paper towel every once in a while. When it was time for me to leave, my sister picked her up. I let her head-butt my chin, and just before I stepped back, that little paw moved painfully forward...and...she gently patted me on the nose.
I may never see Guest Kitty in this world again, but she's a good kitty. I'll really miss her.