Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Boomer`s Story

We adopted Boomer from the Salt Lake County Animal Services Center when he was approximately 4 months old, in 1995.   We had two other cats but had just lost a kitten to heart disease, so the kids, who were all still living at home, wanted another.  My ex hub Scott and daughter Megan picked Boomer from his litter because he was the most friendly and “sweet”.  That trait was part of his personality throughout his life.

The biggest trouble Boomer ever got into was as a kitten. I used to cook hamburger (in this case, for tacos) and drain the grease into an empty frozen orange juice cylinder for it to harden so I could throw it away.  I apparently left it out on the counter one evening, and Boomer stuck his head in and got it stuck a bit.  He was able to shake it off, but he had taco-flavored grease all over his head.  I tried to wash it off (as if a kitten will hold still for THAT!) Luckily, we had a grown cat named Stan (whose brother Ollie had already been adopted when we got Stan).  Stan was a “daddy” to Boomer, and over the course of about 3-4 days, he bathed (licked) Boomer`s head several times a day until Boomer was clean.  

Like many cats, Boomer liked to curl up in sinks, lay in our laps, and as a tabby he was very vocal and talked to us all the time.  When Bruce and I married in 2003, Boomer was already 8 years old. He joined us at the dinner table almost every night. Not ON the table, mind you.  He just sat in his regular chair and kept us company, very well-mannered.  Occasionally he would get meat scraps after the meal, but mostly not.  

I have a lot of pictures of Boomer`s first 8 years, but they are in scrapbooks and have not yet been digitized. But here are some others that I particularly like. 

Boomer with Rudy (a Christmas reindeer decoration)

Inspector Boomer gives 2 Paws Up to the downstairs bathroom remodel. He always ‘helped’ our contractors, especially loving to watch plumbers.

You are NOT going on vacation without me!

Mom, I`m so glad you’re back from vacation!

Am I cute enough for you to let me lay in this box of lace?

It`s a guy thing. 
I love my Dad, too!

Laying outdoors in the sun with his stone friend.

Summer 2012.  Last of the healthy days.

In the fall of last year, Boomer began losing weight. At first it didn’t concern me too much, because Dr. Dan (whom I wrote about here) had just told me a few months before that Boomer was in great health for a 17-year-old cat, and if he didn’t know better, he would have guessed that Boomer was only about 10 years old.

But Boomer kept losing weight, and when we first took him to the vet (a nice, young new vet that bought the clinic after Dr. Dan died) in November, they discovered a mild infection in his gums.  He had to stay overnight there to be anesthetized and have his teeth cleaned (something we did regularly anyway). While Boomer was away for that 24-hour period, I went grocery shopping and for the first time heard the song “Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele. In fact, I heard it TWICE in that shopping trip, and it made me wonder if that song was going to be associated with my worrying about Boomer. Little did I know.

Boomer came home and began eating, and we had a nice Christmas.  But then in February he began losing weight again, so back to the vet for another checkup and blood test. His blood work was mostly good, but had one odd number that indicated there might be a kidney problem or something else.  So, in March they did a chest x-ray, and the diagnosis was confirmed; Boomer had a mass in one of his lungs. (This was about the time that Bruce was diagnosed with cancer, too, so I was a wreck).  Bruce kept his sense of humor and called himself and Boomer the lung cancer twins.  Yeah.  So not funny.

A steroid shot (depo-medrol) was administered, and gave Boomer his appetite and personality back. For the better part of six weeks, he was his old self.  I think of that period as being like an Indian Summer.  The days are lovely, but you know they are numbered.   We enjoyed those days intensely!

The vet said that Boomer could continue getting shots, but the effects would be less dramatic each time and not last as long.  During this period, I began noticing something odd. Often when I would go to the grocery store (which is about 3 times per week because I mail out my Etsy shop orders from the USPS outlet there), I would hear “Set Fire to the Rain” quite often. Not every visit, but once every 2-3 visits, at least. I began listening to the words. It definitely reminded me of Boomer, and the fact that I was losing him.

The second depo-medrol shot lasted about a month, and after I returned from my cruise in June, Boomer got his third (and last) shot.  He was having good days and bad, but we decided that since he had more good with only an occasional bad, we went ahead with that shot.  It only lasted a week, maybe two. Then he began withdrawing from us. Selfishly, I wanted him to last until his 18th birthday.

I researched cat behavior to learn how a cat acted when he was in pain, and Boomer was acting that way, huddled and tucked in on bad days.  It was a struggle that had gone on in my mind for weeks - when was it time to say goodbye? How could I make the decision to end the life of this creature I had loved and cared for for 18 years (and who had loved and cared for me, too)?

I cried on his birthday, July 16 and made up my mind that I would have to do the humane thing the next day. So, on Thursday, July 17, wouldn`t you know it - Boomer was having a good day. I wrestled with my thoughts all morning, until just before noon. Then I called the vet’s office, talked with them and made the euthanization appointment for 3:00 that afternoon.

Here is a picture (one of dozens) that I took of Boomer just before we left in the car:

July 17, 2013.  Just before visiting the vet for the last time. Weight: about 5 pounds.

The face Mommy will always love
I believe Boomer knew where we were going, and why.  He just laid on the front seat of the car, on a blanket in the sun as we drove there.  No meowing, no nervous behavior.  

The burial case I made for Boomer from Laurel Burch fabric.

We went into a special room, and they inserted an IV into Boomer’s front paw. Then they gave us a while to be together.  I just held him close and cried.  That is an understatement. By then I was sobbing so hysterically that I couldn’t talk or catch my breath. Boomer just snuggled into me.  Finally Boomer calmed me down (cats can do that, you know) and we called in the doctor.  Boomer nestled in the blanket they provided, and his eyes were large and open, expectant and frightened.  The doctor administered the shot and then . . . it was over.  There was no light passing out of the eyes, no gentle heave of a last breath.  Just nothing. Until I moved to hold him closer and his body was floppy.  That`s when it became real.  I looked upwards, imagining his little spirit ascending,  and said goodbye.

I set fire to the rain
And I threw us into the flames
When it fell, something died
'Cause I knew that that was the last time, the last time!

I will always be angry with myself for not holding his fragile little body longer. But they brought in a cardboard casket, placed him in and I took Boomer home to bury him outside by our bedroom window, under the apricot tree.  Just a few feet away from where I sleep.

The top of the cardboard casket

Sometimes I wake up by the door,
That heart you caught must be waiting for you
Even now when we're already over
I can't help myself from looking for you.


Boomer’s final rest

I set fire to the rain,
Watched it pour as I touched your face,
Well, it burned while I cried
'Cause I heard it screaming out your name, your name

I visited his little grave every day for the first month.   Then it was every couple days, now it’s a couple times a week.  Soon I will have to put the little cat marker (look familiar?) away for the winter.  

My friend Diane from Canada was visiting me a couple weeks ago and stayed for about 5 days.  I told her about Boomer and the song.  That week we went to the store twice, and heard the song played both times.  I can almost listen to it without breaking into tears.

I miss you, Boomer!

Cathy maroon


  1. I'm sitting here with tears. What a wonderful tribute you have written for your Boomer. I firmly believe that our beloved pets will meet us again one day.

  2. Such a beautiful tribute to an amazing, funny, and vocal furby. Thank you so much for sharing this. I know how you have grieved for the loss of this special one of God's creatures. I saw him in good days and bad and even up until the end, he always talked back to his Mama. You are a special soul, Cathy, and you will be a blessing to your new little kittens. They need you and you need them. How special that you have Darla for you and Alfie for Bruce. They are truly one of God's Tender Mercies. Hugs, Bev

  3. Dear Cathy
    I have made that drive to the vet too many times. We have a pet cemetery in our backyard. Each lost friend has his own marker. Over time, you do visit less often. In my home I remember the happy times, but each visit to the PC brings a little more heartache. It never really goes away.

    This post is a very loving tribute to a very loved friend.
    xx, Carol

  4. Oh Cathy....I don't cry easily, but I can tell you I was very close to it reading this post. A few little hiccups and sniffs were there as your story reminded me so much of our first cat Patra who finally had to be 'put to sleep' when he was twenty years old. Ken and I held him while the injection was administered, but we couldn't bear to bring that little body back home. There was nowhere to bury it as dogs and foxes would have sniffed it out and dug it up within days. We cried and cried for days, and for many months afterwards. Patra is the only pet we have photos of around the house. We loved all our pets, but Patra was so special to us.
    I feel for you and Bruce in your sorrow.

  5. Your post brought tears to my eyes. Our furry family members leave such a huge hole behind when they pass on. That decision to end their pain and suffering can tear at our hearts, but it is a gift, too, that comes from deep love and respect.
    One day, the pain of losing Boomer may not be as sharp, and wonderful memories will remain. Hugs

  6. Dear Cathy

    I was so sorry to read about Boomer. We have made that walk also but with dogs and it never gets easier but with time you will laugh at all the funny things he did.

    My daughter Sue and I had lunch with a good friend of mine and her daughter. The two girls met when we moved to their area when they were just 2 and remain good friends until today and are now in their 40's. At lunch Sally remembered something funny our dog Murphy had done years ago and we all had a good laugh. Good memeories remain.



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