My baby Oscar was approximately ten and a half week old when he died last month.
I had previously lost both my two long-time companion cats of terminal illnesses within a year and a half of each other, the second passing this last Jan. After Tigger's debilitating illness and my desperate efforts to save him, which had included several specialists, major surgery, a feeding tube, and intensive home care, I was emotionally and financially drained when I finally had to say goodbye and let him go. I was not looking for another kitty. My boys were gone, I wanted no others.
Then in May this tiny little kitten was found in a dumpster and my friends "volunteered me" to take him because I was the only one who didn't have any resident cats that could catch anything the kitten might have been carrying. Considering where he came from I knew what I would name him before I even saw him. It would be Oscar. I called him baby Oscar.
He was only little. Between 10 days and 2 weeks old. Blue eyes open but ears still mostly lying down on the sides of his tiny head. A baby who needed to be bottle fed multiple times a day from early morning to late at night. And if at first I'd considered only fostering him until he was weaned and then putting him up for adoption, bottle feeding and addressing the health issues that became apparent quickly cured me of that crazy notion. It was an intensely bonding experience and in no time he was my baby.
Oscar grew into a curious, playful, good natured and loving little kitten. His good nature was all the more impressive considering that health problems, primarily but not exclusively intestinal, required multiple vet visits, treatments and medications. Yet he was still friendly and cooperative with everyone. The staff at the vet clinic and the specialty clinic all loved him.
When he was 10 weeks old he was finally considered well enough to receive his 1st vaccine. He was feeling great that day. He was so playful and energetic I was concerned I couldn't offer him enough stimulation. And I am racked with guilt because it had been me, me and my big mouth to pipe up and ask my vet if Oscar shouldn't get his first vaccination once he was feeling better and she said yes.
Four days later, after terrible suffering, he was dead, apparently from a severe immune response with a secondary anaerobic bacterial infection at the site of the vaccination. It was agonizing to watch. My vet tried her best to save him but he just got worse and worse. It's been a month since I took him for that damn shot and I still lay awake at night. I still can't believe he's gone.
Even though we were only together for 61 days my grief is as sharp as when I lost my boys who had been with me 15 years each. He opened up my heart again. The close attention he required had quickly created and cemented a powerful emotional bond. He was only a baby but he'd grown old enough for his wonderful personality to emerge. I'll never get to see him grow up. Never see what color his eyes would finally settle on. Never see how his changing gray coat with all the silver guard hairs coming in would eventually look. I loved him so much and I miss him terribly. I can't help feeling that I failed him. If I hadn't been so damn conscientious about getting him vaccinated he'd be home with me now.
His life had barely begun before it was done.
It is good to share
with others who can appreciate this kind of grief.