In June of 2008, I was freshly 19 and living on my own for the first time in Cedar Rapids, IA. I vividly remember the day that I brought home my first cat ever. It was a historic day in Iowa, as the city of Cedar Rapids experienced the worst flood in its history as the Cedar River crested over 31 feet. I remember driving out to the country to check out some free barn cats, but as I was driving, I examined the mountainous clouds above. They were a mix of black and gray, rolling through the country sky quickly as the radio warned of possible flash flooding. I decided to turn around and back home, but not without a cat. I stopped at the local pet store, and saw a little gray tabby cat and asked to hold him. He was so calm, and laid on my shoulder, purring comfortably. This was the cat for me, and for the next 11 years, Ziggy and I would share our lives together.
In November 2019, I was getting ready to meet some friends back home for a kid-free weekend where we could have some fun. I noticed Ziggy was breathing with much more effort than normal, and my vet school training thus far had told me this could not wait. I sadly texted my friends that I would not be able to make it this time. We rushed off to the vets where I waited patiently, but nervously. I knew that a cat in respiratory distress is more often than not one of two things: feline asthma or congestive heart failure and Ziggy had the latter. The left atrium of his heart was quite big and there was fluid building up in his lungs as his heart was not strong enough to pump all the blood out. After some medication and oxygen therapy, he was breathing more easily and we went home on medication.
Ziggy did well for a few months until he stopped eating as much. Then other things began to change, including his overall energy levels and his typical personality. After a week, I knew that I was going to have to make one of the most difficult decisions any pet mom has to make—euthanasia. As veterinarians, we are there for our clients when that time comes for their pets. We comfort our patients as we reassure owners that this is the best thing that we can do for our beloved family members. Ziggy was my first “real” pet that I got on my own, and I struggled to make that decision. Even through all of my training, I knew in my heart this is what he needs to end the pain he was in, caused by his heart failure. The struggle never goes away. Euthanasia is never an easy choice, but I am so thankful to the veterinarian who was able to come to my house and let my sweet kitty pass peacefully at home with his family surrounding him.
Ziggy was the best cat ever. He was nothing but the best to my boys and he loved everyone he met. He visits me in my dreams some times and I miss him all the time. May you never forget your first fur-child, who brought you all the joys that pet ownership brings.