We called them “The Boys”…

… and The Boys are together again.

On September 11th, 2012, we put our beloved cat, Jakob, to sleep.

It was a harder decision to make that Tuesday than it was when we made it for Berkeley last December. Jakob was no where in the same state of “sickness” as Berkeley, but he was suffering all the same. To let him die slowly would have been cruel and inhumane. Did (and does) that make the decision any easier? Absolutely not. Do I feel guilty? Extremely. Did we do the “right thing”? Most definitely.

We got Jakob in June of 2001. He was a birthday gift for Berkeley, who was going to turn a year old on the first of that August. Jakob was born in April, and we had known the man we got him from for years. Roy worked with my sister and he also did the flowers for our wedding. I knew I wanted to get Berkeley a playmate, and that he needed someone to keep him company. We could hardly leave the house without having to trick him so we could slip out the door, or be forced – many, many times – to take him with us where ever we were going. Berkeley made a lot of trips to fast food drive-thrus before Jakob came along. I had my heart set on an orange kitty, and I was down in NC visiting my parents (Sean and I were stationed in CT at the time). I looked through all of their local newspapers, hoping to get my hands on that seemingly elusive orange kitten. I remember one person had put an ad about free kittens to a good home in one newspaper, and had listed the different color types available. There was an orange one! I called, but “he’s already been given away” was the response. Then, out of the blue, my sister Michelle said that one of Roy’s cats had had some kittens in April. She believed there was an orange one in the bunch. I told her how much I wanted an orange kitten and she talked to Roy and we made plans (my mama, my sister, and I) to go to Roy’s and pick out a kitten. He had Jakob in his hands when we arrived. I instantly knew that this kitten was going to be mine. Jakob had a few siblings I also looked over, but Sean and I were living in Navy Housing at the time and we were only allowed two pets. I knew that I was only going to be able to get one more kitty, and I had no doubt that it was going to be that orange one.

I took Jakob back to my parents’ house and gave him a name on the way. I remember I rode in the backseat with him, and he crawled up under the passenger seat for the whole trip.

Baby Jake asleep in my parents’ bathroom.

Jake and Berk in their room at my parents’.

Berkeley took to Jakob surprisingly quick. Jakob was a little afraid of Berkeley at first, but soon the two became buddies. The person Jakob loved the most though was my mama. I still believe to this day that he thought he was going to be her cat. She and I drove to Maryland when it was time for me to return home, and we stayed overnight in a hotel. Berkeley and Jakob spent just about the whole night jumping back and forth across our beds. The next day, when I loaded Jake into the carrier with Berk and prepared to head north… oh, man. The look on Jakob’s face said it all. He wanted to stay with my mama! But I tried to soothe him and tell him he was mine and that he belonged with me and Berkeley. We headed north and Mama headed south, and I think all of us cried for at least half the trip.

We celebrated Berkeley’s first birthday shortly after that. Jakob grew to accept that he was ours, but he kept to himself a lot. I remember Berkeley would wander through the house calling out for Jake. I’d have to help him find the kitten, and when we did they would start to play. Those are some good memories of Jakob and Berkeley running up and down the stairs, jumping all around the room, how Jake would try to bathe Berkeley but Berk would end up getting angry and they’d start to fight.

Me and Jakob ready to celebrate Berkeley’s first birthday!

Berkeley and Jakob investigate the presents.

Birthday feast!

Traveling cats – always packed and ready to go!

Berkeley wanted to nurse. Jake was along for the ride.

The Boys

Jake’s first Halloween. He and Berkeley dressed for the occasion.

I miss this.

All tucked in and ready for bed!

The Boys, waiting for us to return home. Kinda creepy!

Family visits were few and far between because of the distance, but whenever we got together Jakob would always seek out my mama. When Sean and I went down to NC for my granddaddy’s funeral we took the boys with us and had to leave them there for a week while we had to go back up north (we were coming down in another week any way for Christmas and we didn’t want to force the cats to make the trip that many times). Jakob re-discovered his love of my mama’s bed. Berkeley pined and waited for our return. They even got to know their older “sister”, Samantha, a bit during the visit.

Sean, Jake, Berk, and Sam. Sam says, “OMG! Who are these strangers on my bed?!? I’m gettin’ outta here!”

A little later… you see who has won.

I always thought of Berkeley as my “traveling cat” because he went so many places with us. But I’ve come to realize that Jakob traveled a lot too. From NC to CT and back several times, then from eastern NC to western NC. When Sean got out of the Navy we returned to North Carolina and moved into my (now empty) grandparents’ house next door to my mama and daddy. We fixed the place up a bit with some paint and such. When Jakob and Berkeley began to fight more than play I once again felt the urge to add to our family. Berkeley was sort of mean to Jake during that time. I know that not one day passed when Berkeley didn’t try to dominate Jakob by popping him on the head. So, we decided to get another kitten to “take the edge off”. We ended up getting two, Bruce and Claudia. They were huddled together and were the last two in a litter of four left to be adopted. I couldn’t bear to separate them, and I’m glad I didn’t. Claudia ended up falling absolutely in love with Berkeley (he tolerated her), and Jakob and Bruce became inseparable. Berkeley tolerated Bruce (but not as well as he tolerated Claudia – Bruce is just my little peace maker and tends to get along with any other cat)… but Jakob HATED Claudia. It was funny how it worked out that way. I don’t know if he was jealous that she took his place as Berkeley’s side-kick or if it was his way of trying to move up a position on the cat hierarchy. We experienced a lot of what I called “a circle of violence”: Berk would bully Jakob, then Jake would bully Claudia. Sometimes Claudia would bully Bruce but other times she would just run off to Berkeley, like she was tattling. Sometimes the circle started with Jake bullying Clauds.

Me and the boys – good times!

Bruce, Berkeley, Claudia, and Jakob. Notice how Jakob is now considerably larger than Berkeley. He was a big boy!

Bruce and Jake: buddies!

Not only my clean clothes! Ugh!!

Very comfy… very fat.

Fab Four (Jake, Bruce, Berk, Clauds)

Fab Four, take 2.

Jakob looks on as Bruce tries to cram himself into Berkeley’s carrier. About five seconds later, Bruce got the bejeezus beat out of him. But he sort of asked for it! The carrier was Berkeley’s personal space and he invaded it. Jakob sort of watched like, “I told you what would happen, but you wouldn’t listen! Stupid kid!”

Bruce, Jake, Claudia, and Berkeley on our bed.

Berkeley, Bruce, Jakob, Me, and Claudia. No wonder I wasn’t getting much sleep!

My favorite picture of Jakob. He was a handsome boy!

Claudia has entered the picture (literally). Notice how Jake’s expression has changed!

It became a common occurrence to hear Jakob and Bruce “talk” to each other on their way to the food bowls. Bruce would lead Jakob to the food, but then play around and sort of keep Jakob from eating (just enough to keep Jakob’s interest). The only time we ever had an indication that Jakob was unhappy was when he began to poop on the floor of the room my computer was in. I think he was trying to tell us that there just wasn’t enough room in that tiny house for all those animals and two humans. It was fortunate for him that we were planning on moving any way. In 2005 we moved across the state of North Carolina and bought the house we live in today. It’s not a big house, really, but it’s much larger than the glorified cardboard box we were living in eastern NC. Jakob stopped pooping on the floor, so I know he was happy to have his space again.

2006 was a bad year for our family. I had a car wreck and had to drop out of college (partly because I no longer had a way to school after the wreck, partly from depression from an event that happened shortly after the wreck), I had a miscarriage (that’s the event), Sean lost his job… just bad things. Late in the year, near Christmas, we noticed that Jakob was having trouble breathing. He would wheeze and cough, and he had lost a bit of weight because he stopped eating (can’t eat if you can’t breathe). We took him to the vet and had an xray done. It was the cherry on top of that sundae of a year: we were told that Jakob had lung cancer and that he probably wouldn’t see the next year. (We also found out that at some point, Jake had had a kidney stone and that one of his kidneys was no longer functioning because of it.) I remember crying when the vet told us, as I just couldn’t believe we were going to be losing another one of our babies that year.

Berkeley and Jakob, Christmas 2006. We were sure that it was going to be Jake’s last.

We were prescribed steroids (prednisone) for Jakob, to make him hungry and to basically force him to eat. We were given the option to do a biopsy on the tumors in his lungs (to determine whether they were benign or malignant), but the vet warned us that he might not survive the surgery. We decided against it, and boy – I’m glad we did! Jakob somehow managed to pull through. He even put back on some of the weight he lost. But he still had moments of wheezing and coughing over the next six years.

Jakob enjoying some catnip.

I think he was trying to tell us something, LOL!

He loved sleeping on his back! Sometimes, we would catch him lying upside down next to the wall and one of us would say, “Jakob’s been defeated!” I can’t remember exactly why we always said that, we just did!

It looks like he’s smiling! He always did love a soft, cuddly bed!


Jakob making sure that Andy’s crib was ready for his arrival.

Berkeley was my main babysitter. Jakob was my backup plan!

Apart from the occasional wheeze or cough, over the next few years Jake seemed okay. We didn’t really have the money to take him back to the vet like we should have, and that’s something I’ll always kick myself for. And when Berkeley got sick, most of our energy became focused on his health (and then Andy was born, taking even more focus away from Jake). Jakob never seemed to mind though. He really was the most easy-going and laid-back cat. And when Berkeley passed, Jake was affected sure, but not like Claudia (she’s on antidepressants now). We decided that it was time for Jake to have a check up, a dental cleaning, all that good stuff. It was then that we found out that Jakob had developed a heart murmur. Nothing too serious, but it could cause complications later on (such as an enlarged heart, a stroke, etc.). We were referred to a specialist and made the trip down to Matthews, NC. Andy wanted to be loud and playful, and we had passed a park on our way to the specialist and I told Sean to take Andy there to play and that I would stay with Jake. We were forty minutes early for the appointment (we overestimated how bad the traffic would be and how long it would take to get there) so Jakob and I ended up sitting in the waiting room for over an hour, as the specialist was running a bit behind. Jakob didn’t complain not ONCE. I remember sitting there, thinking how very different Jake was than Berkeley when it came to going to the vet. Berkeley would have been raising hell! I was thankful that Jakob was the way he was – he was just what I needed after the trauma of losing Berkeley and all of the vet visits we had with him leading up to the day he passed.

Jakob exploring the exam room, waiting for the cardiologist.

I was relieved to find out that Jakob’s heart murmur and high blood pressure were nothing to be too concerned with yet. He was prescribed meds for the HBP, and we were told to call next year for a follow-up appointment concerning the murmur. While we were there, they also xray’d his lungs again (still, no one knew what he had going on in there). I asked for a copy of the xrays. I’ll post links rather than actual pictures, as the pictures are quite large and in order to really see the detail I don’t want to scale them down. You can easily see the “clouds” in his lungs in these xrays. These were taken in April of this year, and we don’t have the xrays from 2006 to compare them to, as our vet office discards things of that nature after five years.

X-RAY 1     X-RAY 2     X-RAY 3     X-RAY 4

Ultimately, it was these clouds that did him in. We were given a precious six extra years with Jakob, but in the end, it was just too much. By September, Jakob had lost so much weight that you could feel every bone in his body. He stopped eating and we pretty much had to force feed him. His kidney levels began going up (yes, I thought, “Oh great! Here we go again with the kidney failure!”) and his heart murmur grew louder/worse. He started wheezing more loudly and more often than he had in 2006. He couldn’t even make a trip across the house without having to lay down and rest. I think we took Jakob to the vet every two weeks or so for the last month of his life. Finally, on the day we put him to sleep, one of the vets told me what I had been needing to hear: that he wasn’t going to get better. I knew it, but I needed someone to tell me. I was pretty much waiting for Jakob to get as bad off as Berkeley was when he passed before I was ready to let go, but I realized that I had been hating myself since last year for letting Berkeley suffer as long as he did. I wasn’t willing to let Jake suffer the same way. He was going to starve himself to death if I didn’t help him, and that is certainly no way for ANYONE to die. And the clouds in his lungs were so bad that the xrays taken that day showed that he was completely eat-up with whatever they were.

Jakob’s last visit to the vet. He weighed 7 pounds, 1 ounce. Berkeley had weighed 7 pounds and 6 ounces when he passed. And Jakob was a bigger-boned kitty. 😦 He had practically wasted away to nothing.

I started on this obituary on September 15th, just a few days after we put Jakob to sleep. As you can tell, it’s taken me over a month to finish it. I feel guilty about that, but then I remember how slow and calm Jakob always was, and I don’t think he’d mind that much that I took my time. He always took his. He was a sweet and loving cat, and I’ll never forget how he used to paw my arm when I played timed games at my computer, or how if you stopped petting him before he was ready he’d lick your arm (he had the roughest tongue!). Nor will I forget his silent meow, and how if it was something REALLY urgent he’d lead you to the problem (he once came upstairs to get me when we lived in CT to show me that I hadn’t closed the dishwasher all the way and that water was leaking all over the floor). Bruce seems to be doing better with the loss than I thought he ever would, and I think that’s partly because of our younger girls (Annie, who I mentioned earlier this year, and Luna, who we adopted from my parents this July – Bruce has REALLY taken up with Luna and she’s brought out the kitten in him.) He did go around the house looking for Jakob a couple of days after Jake passed, and he did it again recently when Andy and I were looking at pictures on my phone. We saw a picture of Berkeley and I spoke to it the way I used to speak to him, and when we saw a picture of Jakob I called out, “Hey, Jake!” the way I always did. Bruce came running into the room frantically, looking for his buddy. It broke my heart.

Overall, I’m more at peace now with Jake’s passing than I was with Berkeley’s a month after he was gone. I know Jake’s in a much better place and he’s no longer suffering. It’s kind of a relief to not have to worry so much if I’m going to be able to get him to eat or if I’m going to hurt him when I shove his pills down his throat. I still miss my Baby Jake, and I swear I’ve seen him around the house a couple of times since he passed (I’ll walk into my bedroom and think I see him lying on the bed or in my computer chair – two of his favorite sleep spots). I’ll never forget him, and how much happiness he brought all of us. Rest in peace, Jake… I love you!


5 Responses to “We called them “The Boys”…”

  1. 2 Anonymous
    24 October 2012 at 6:05 pm

    I miss them both too, I love what you wrote. Hugs

  2. 4 Gayle
    24 October 2012 at 8:08 pm

    All I can do is cry. I miss My Baby Jake and will always love him. </3 from "Grandma" Gayle

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Sim Goddess

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