On this day, Q, my baby boy, my pretty kitty – has been put to sleep.
On July 13th, 1999 my friend Krista and I had lunch to celebrate her 10 year sobriety birthday in Rockville somewhere and afterward we stopped at the PetSmart, which is where I first saw Q. Q and his brother, another black cat, were in a cage together at the PetSmart. As soon as I approached, Q stood up and started purring and rubbing his nose and body up against my fingers and the cage… he was so adorable. His brother just sat there, he maybe looked up and found nothing of interest and went back to sleep. Well I really wanted to take the little guy home, but I wasn’t sure Gary would be up for it… so I didn’t. I was prepared at home already, I had purchased litter, a litter box and scoop in anticipation of getting a cat, but I really didn’t think Gary would say yes.
That evening when I arrived home I told Gary I almost brought home a cat, and he asked why I didn’t… so then I was pretty upset, someone was bound to take that cat, he was so lovable and needy. The next day after work Krista and I returned to the PetSmart, intent on finding the perfect cat for me. We were both very shocked to see Q and his brother still there.
I filled out all the paperwork, listened to all the advice from the PetSmart experts and loaded Q into the cardboard Garfield and Odie inspired cat carrier and Krista dropped me off at the Metro. He was relatively quiet on the Metro and I was soon exiting the Metro on the escalator up on Q Street NW and that’s where he got his name. His full name Q Ten Appel, Q for the street he came home on, Ten as it was Krista’s 10th Sobriety Birthday and Appel for me… or QT for short.
That night Q was pretty scared, he wouldn’t come out from under my bed and so I just left him alone. I would get down on the floor and look at him, trying to coax him out but he wasn’t interested, it was safe, dark and warm under there and that was all he needed. I had, when he first arrived, shown him to the litter box and the food, neither of which piqued his interest at the time – but that night I awoke to the sound of him peeing on my bed… poor little guy, I thought, I showed him to the box and tried to talk to him about how important it was to go there and woke up long enough to put my comforter cover in the laundry.
Q knew his name, and in the summer I would start to call his name while walking up the hill to the house. He would always run to the window and sit in the sill waiting for me to arrive, meowing the whole time. When I’d get tot he door he would run up purring away and giving me a kiss by rubbing his snout up against the side of my glasses, each time he did this I would say: “Good Boy Kisses” and eventually he learned that when I said that I wanted a kiss, which he would then proceed to do.
At night when I would prepare for bed, Q wanted nothing to do with me, but as soon as I switched off the light after reading a few chapters he would be on the bed and lying next to me, he had to be touching me somehow and then he would start to purr up a storm.
When the alarm would go off in the morning he would expect me to lie down next to him and give him attention, even me going to the bathroom was frowned upon, as he was the important thing here and I’d better realize it pretty soon.
He was my baby boy, I loved him very very much.
I brought him home a sister a year or so after he had been with me, I assumed he was lonely. This was not very well accepted for the first few months, but eventually Q and his sister, Mouse, grew to love one another and grew inseparable – he knew, however, that he was top dog.
Q was not at home only twice that I can remember, once Gary and I were going to be in Las Vegas for a few days and he stayed with Gary’s parents; and once he stayed at a co-workers (Diana) house. When he was at Gary’s parents he was very happy about having a basement to explore, but when he and Mouse were at Diana’s they didn’t leave from underneath her couch unless she was in her room sleeping. Q was never much of a social cat, he didn’t want anything to do with any humans except Gary and I and if anyone knocked on the door he would bolt out of the room he was in, into the safety of under a bed somewhere.
In Chesapeake, where Q, Mouse and I lived for under a year, Q was found to be pooping in my bedroom closet, no explanation and I scolded him for it and tried to keep that door closed.
Back in DC we found piles of poop in secluded places in the house where Q had gone for some reason, but other days for weeks and sometimes months at a time he would go in the box like Mouse. Nothing changed, no difference in litter, food, routines… but occasionally you would see him run out of the box like he was in pain and soon after you’d find a pile of crap somewhere that it shouldn’t be.
In December of 2007 Gary and I went on a cruise and my friends Mark and Robert stopped in every day to take care of the cats. Robert knew one of them wasn’t using the box, but assumed he or she was just not going. When Gary and I returned from the cruise we discovered 5 different spots where Q had gone to the bathroom on Gary’s bed, that’ll teach him for taking me away for a week.
It had continued to get worse and one morning I rolled over in my bed and there next to my pillow where Q would normally sleep was a small turd.
I spent $350 on an Xray, changed litter, changed food… nothing was helping. He was miserable when this was happening, I was pissed and things were getting destroyed… so I had to make a decision, that decision was to put him to sleep. I didn’t make the decision lightly, I thought very carefully about my options and the cost associated with this issue.
So, this morning Gary and I drove out to 1201 NY Ave and handed Q over to the Humane Society. They said they would put him to sleep and I did not want to be present for that. I kissed him one last time on the forehead, gave him a very big hug and walked out the door. Then I cried.
Now here I sit at home and I know it will be hard for a while. I imagine Mouse will be very lonely, but I will do my best to keep her occupied and happy.
Goodbye Q, I’ll always hold you in my heart and I miss you already.