On a warm sunny day in June 2007, Connor & I ventured to Madison KDH Clinic for me to pick between one of two cats. For those who’ve read “Kitten Chronicles”, you know that the active one peed on Connor, but the other had beautiful markings and slept calmly. The urine vetoed Connor’s first choice, and he & I agreed that the other would be the best pick for my house-mouser.
For a few years, he was a hospitable pet accepting Connor and other guests into our home. However, the summer when Connor spent most of it at home with his father instead of his “favorite aunt” (self-proclaimed…haha), Jasper changed his disposition. He transformed from an animated pet to a persnickety protector of his realm.
His antics have entertained the masses….or at least a decade of third graders, Facebook friends, and family. He’s been the subject of many writing lessons and animated storytelling illustrations in Room 302. In fact, he became the muse to finally kick-start my “one day” dream into reality. “Jasper’s ABC Book” and “Kitten Chronicles” have both sold over 100 copies in the 4 and 3 months they’ve been published. His behaviors and reactions have created chapter titles for three more chapter books as well as four more picture books.
However, life on Main Street started changing this past weekend. Saturday morning, I noticed he was breathing oddly and clenching his stomach muscles. Since he’s known for liking to chew…anything and everything, I guessed he had eaten something he shouldn’t and was having difficulty digesting. I figured it would come out…one way or the other. (Sorry for the image). Then, as I returned home from church Sunday afternoon, I realized his behavior wasn’t his normal. His movement was slow and his napping position less comfortable. I requested an appointment on Monday with his veterinarian figuring they may have to do a procedure to remove whatever he’d eaten that was causing his problems. Yet, on Sunday night, I realized it was worse than that. He jumped up on the bed, as usual, but his meow wasn’t the “I’m here, so pet me” meow…but a “I’m in pain” meow. With tears in my eyes, I pet him, and he lay his head down in my palm. Then, jumped down and left the room.
I was predicting that he would be gone when I awoke, but alas…he was still trying to rest, but not himself. So, I spent the day in 302 awaiting his 3:30 appointment and preparing my heart and mind to be able to do what needed to done that afternoon. So, as I scurried to my car, I pondered whether he’d still be waiting when I walked in the house.
I easily put him in his carrier, which in itself shouted “this is it”. He cried a couple of times on the way to the car, then rode to the vet clinic silently. We waited….he silently sat as he breathed laboriously.
Then, the attentive veterinarian and her assistant removed him from the carrier and examined him thoroughly. As she tried to take his temperature, he was refusing to allow it. I reached out and placed my palm on his face to scratch his neck, and she was instantly allowed to accomplish her task. As I watched their facial expressions, I knew. Then came the words I hadn’t expected….heart failure.
After hearing what treatment would be and aftercare would be and the impact on my lively roommate, I knew I had to do the hardest thing a pet owner must do. Let him go. He’s much too proud and to lively a cat to adjust to the possible life IF all that actually helped. So, I sat…holding his head and petting him as he finally let go of his pain.
In the end, I’m okay. Yes, the tears come here and there…like right now as I share this weekend journey with you. But, with it comes the joy of realizing that his stories are still here. He wasn’t a normal pet whose name you remember but not much more. I could tell you only a few things about Moses, Samson, Shadrach, and Bucky (other cats I’ve had during high school and after), but Jasper? Shoot! Have I told you about…
Let’s face it. To some he will be “just a cat” and they won’t understand why tears fall. But…to my students…to his fans…to those who’ve laughed or been shocked by his behaviors….
Like chasing the mailman down the sidewalk…
Keeping grown men from entering my house without either a spray bottle for protection or a promise that he was locked up….
Or the fact that he could stretch out on my legs and touch both my hip and my foot with his paws…
They’ll understand when I say….
Heart failure may have stolen his life
like an unexpected tornado,
but his legendary reputation
will never die.
Jasper, thanks for trying to rid our home of field mice, protecting it from intruders (mailmen, landlords, and other visitors), inspiring me to chase the dream of writing, and being a part of my heart for now and forever.
Good-bye, my feline friend, I love you.