If you want to know what happened next, I’ll tell you. If you don’t, just skip to the next paragraph. First they gave him an injection of a muscle relaxant. In a few minutes, he laid down and became still. As I petted him, I could feel him softly purring. I suspect it was the most relaxed he’d felt in a long time. After another minute or two, he dropped off and his breathing became much slower. Then the vet carefully shaved off the fur on one of his front paws and injected the drug used to stop the heart. Brownie was far beyond any awareness of this. The only outward sign from Brownie was one last deep sigh right after the injection hit. And with that sigh, his breathing and his heart stopped. The vet removed the needle and quietly excused himself, saying that he’d give me a few minutes to say goodbye. I must confess that I cried then and there as I said goodbye. I told him what a good boy he’d been and how much we loved him. It’s an odd thing – I cried more tears over this cat than I did when I heard that my mother had died. I mean no disrespect to my mother when I say that. I’m not ready to put all of that into words, but for now, suffice it to say that this was what I needed to do today.
It is traditional to speak glowingly of the recently deceased, but in Brownie’s case, there’s a difference, which is that I would have said these same things when he was still with us. He really was the most cheerful, positive cat I have ever spent time with. Cats as a species are not known for their self-pity, but Brownie was even less so than his feline brethren. Perhaps because he was never mistreated, he had an instant affinity for almost every other living creature – especially people. He could usually be counted on to eagerly welcome any visitors, while our other cats might be seen very little or not at all.
He also loved routines. CC and I always said that he should have gone to Hollywood; he would have proven to be an exceptionally trainable cat. For example, if he spent the night in my bedroom, there was a particular sequence of blanket negotiations, head-butting, etc. before he would settle down, but if he were down the hall in CC’s room, the routine was completely different. He relished his routines – perhaps I should call them rituals instead. His most memorable ritual was surely his stalking of pens. You read that right – pens (never pencils!). In the middle of the night, he would go searching for them, pawing around on desktops until a suitable prey had been identified. He would bat it around on the floor for a while, and if he didn’t bat it under a couch out of reach, he would finally carry it to the foot of either CC’s bed or my own and drop it on the floor with a clatter and a triumphant meow. That meow was noteworthy too because his normal meow was frankly pretty pathetic – it was usually no more than an abbreviated “Mep!” but it became a fully voiced syllable when he had conquered the wily pen. I should also mention that if we got to a point where we couldn’t find a pen anywhere, we could usually move the couch or the love seat and find a solid dozen or so that had been batted under there.
I could tell more stories about Brownie, but I think I might quickly try the patience of even my most indulgent readers, so I will stop here. It has been a tough stretch these last few months – in addition to a few people in my life passing away, we lost our cat Tick-Tock in May at the age of about 18, and now we’ve lost Brownie after 14 years. The animal count is down to two gerbils and our most recent feline arrival, whose name is still not a done deal, by the way, though I think we’re leaning towards Brunswick.