Yesterday, our beloved Toulouse died with his head in my hands, looking into my eyes. Unbeknownst to us, he had a tumor in his mouth. He had been misdiagnosed in January with a pancreatic problem. A new, warm, loving, kind vet helped us with him this week.
Toulouse (pronounced too loose) first graced our lives three years ago when he was about 8. His former owner had died and he was taken to a shelter. That shelter called the Purebred Cat Rescue who placed him with a foster family. At the time we found him, I had been looking for a siamese kitten. But I saw his picture and fell in love. I talked to Jeff and I was allowed to pick him up from his foster family. Jeff likes to say that Toulouse always acted grateful to be in our home - that he never forgot how life could have been. He is convinced that Toulouse was a wise cat and I agree.
As luck would have it, my dad picked up a siamese kitten for me on the exact same day we brought Toulouse home. That would be Mucha (moo kuh). They were good brothers who fought, played and loved together. Mucha has been mourning his loss this past day, crying for him - looking confused. Last night he would crazily attack some of his toys and then glance over his shoulder, to see if Toulouse was coming. It is very sad.
I'd like to talk a little about Toulouse.
The day I brought Toulouse home, he seemed to know he had found his new home. It happened in one moment when I was trying to tempt both cats with cat toys. I happened upon a glitter ball and as soon as Toulouse saw it, he grabbed it in his mouth and took off.
Toulouse was silly about glitter balls. He would walk around the house and basement for hours with one in his mouth, meowing. Occasionally he would drop the ball down and bat at it. For a big cat, he was so cute playing with those balls. He would allow us to throw a ball to him and he would bat it back at us, sort of like baseball.
Toulouse was beautiful. He had a bit of a big cat look around the mouth. He had large, beautiful, wise, green eyes that he seemed to blink slowly in all his wisdom. Though small for a Maine Coon, he was hefty. His fur was patchy and his tail skinny when we got him but his fur quickly thickened and his fluffy tail was beautiful.
As I was so smitten with Toulouse when I saw him, he seemed to return the love to me. I was his person. Jeff says that not only did he love me, he was in love with me. It took him about a month or two to really warm up. He would initially spend his nights sleeping in the basement but eventually graduated to sleeping above my head. At night, when we would sit on the couch, Toulouse used to sit near me. Then he would allow himself to touch me and then eventually would lay on me, knead bread with his strong arms for what seemed like hours on me and then sleep behind me on the ledge of the couch.
Toulouse was like many other cats with his cute habits. Every morning when I would open the front curtains, he would beg for me to lift him to look out the window so he could inspect what was happening during the day. That would last for about 30 seconds and he would be satisfied. He would then bask in the sun. Any time you touched him, he would churr in response. Sometimes I would wait a few minutes between pettings just to hear him do it.
We have a great thing Toulouse used to do caught on video. Our front screen door has glass on the bottom. In the summer, he and Mucha -fated to be indoor cats- would stare outside, watching the world through the glass. If we opened the door in the winter, Toulouse would saunter over, try to peer through the window and, if foggy, he would sit on his hind legs, take both of his front paws and clean the glass.
We don't think Toulouse was in much pain until his last two days. He was super brave - grabbing at a glitter ball in his sickest. Our hearts are broken for this beloved cat who we only got to know for three years. He is as dear to me as any cat that I had growing up that lived to 18 or 20. I forgot how raw this grief can be. Aidan wants to bury him in the yard. When his remains are returned to us, we will bury him in the garden, near the garden wall that he loved to traipse across last summer.