Yesterday June 25th, 2010 at around 9:50 pm, a wonderful chapter in our lives came to an abrupt close. Baxter (Beasley) Keifer passed away after contracting an illness about 3 weeks ago.
We never did get a definitive answer from the Vet. We personally suspect that he somehow contracted a non-effusive (dry) form of FIP (feline infectious peritonitis). The symptoms all seemed to match except for the fever.
Whatever he had was a mystery, and the antibiotics didn’t seem to help, so I suspect it was viral. All his blood tests came back normal. His chest x-ray showed a shadow consistent with asthma, or a lung infection, or even possibly the early stages of primary lung cancer, but nothing definitive.
Baxter came into my life when he was about 12 weeks old, back in August, 2000. He is a Siamese cat with an amazing personality. Beasley had just turned 10 this June which is equivalent to 50 human years. We have a lot of history together.
Beasley bonded with me right away as a kitten, and right then and there, he was daddy’s kitty. When my wife came onto the scene six years later, he bonded with her as well soon afterwords, which I am told is pretty rare because Siamese Cats usually will only bond to one owner.
In the beginning, Baxter never liked other people besides me very much. He would tolerate visitors for a while, but then… out came the claws. At the time, other people saw him as a mean cat, while to me, he was the sweetest, kindest, most playful cat I ever had.
When Tingting joined us, Beasley strangely tolerated her, but that was about it at first. Within the month, Tingting worked her magic, and Beasley became extremely fond of her. In fact, after that, he became friendly to everyone! Beasley was a changed kitty. If you knew him back then, you would agree that this was truly a miracle. Anyone who would now visit would be greeted by him with affection. Baxter has been loving to everyone ever since.
He was great around Kevin and even seemed to understand that Kevin’s prodding and poking at him were all out of innocence for his age. We would take walks and Baxter would follow us everywhere, just like a loyal friend. It was almost like having a dog in cat form.
One of the last funny moments that I remember just before he got sick was when I was fixing a cracked window on our house. I had the ladder out, and Baxter scaled right up it…. All 15 feet of it. It was hilarious, and it was one of those times that I wish I had my camcorder with me.
That was typical of the joy and light that Beasley brought into our lives everyday.
The past few weeks have been absolutely heart wrenching. It was a constant roller coaster ride of hope during one day, while sliding into discouragement & heartache the next.
I spent most of my free time nursing Beasley, trying to get him to eat. Sometimes he would do okay, while other times he had to be force fed to get nutrition. He became anorexic by the third week, and gradually refused any food at all by his last two days.
The strange thing is that other than no appetite, he seemed relatively comfortable with just an occasional cough. He would still want to go outside to take walks to his favorite places. With each passing day he became gradually weaker, and his strolls became shorter.
On his last day, he was on the back porch, and even jumped off the side (forgetting that he was sick and weak)! He had a look of regret in his eyes after that one, but soon shook it off with what little energy reserves he had left, and took his short stroll over to the neighbors bush which provided him with a nice comfortable shade spot.
By that night, he suddenly began to cough hard, and cried out to us. At this point, it seems that the three of us (my wife, I, and especially Beasley) where suddenly cast into a private hell. Beasley was now suffering as he was choking for air, and trying to move to different areas of the house desperately trying to outrun the inevitable.
It was too late to call the Vet. Baxter finally stumbled into a corner and lay there struggling for life while my wife was with him. In the meantime, I had got a phone call from my sister. Tingting was desperately motioning to me to get back into the hallway, at which time I had to cut the phone call short. As I hung up the phone, Beasley took his last breath in front of my wife.
The whole ordeal probably lasted 20 or 30 minutes, but it seemed like an eternity. Tingting helplessly watched him as he took his last breath, which sounded like a pitiful whimper from a child. Now he just lay there with his big blue eyes still open, but now lifeless. In just a blink of an eye, our Beasley had passed from Yang to Yin.
When I confirmed that he was gone, she was absolutely inconsolable. It was my time to be strong for her, trying to comfort her as best as I could. I let her know that she gave Beasley the greatest honor by being there for him as he passed. As we mourn his death in this world, his birth is being celebrated in the next.
About 20 minutes after he passed, I turned on the spotlight in the backyard and we proceeded to bury him. I already had a nice spot picked out, just in case. Although I kept my composure as best I could for Tingting’s sake, my grief couldn’t stay inside for long. I barely slept that night trying to process the whole nightmare that had transpired & by next morning I had lost it too. Reality had settled in like a cold brutal winter.
Today we picked up some flowers for him to plant, and I made a marker for his resting place. It now seems to be a more fitting resting place for such a special soul as Beasley.
As I write this, my heart is aching because never before had I felt such a strong bond with a pet. I’ve had many cats and I’m no stranger to losing them at some point. It’s simply the price that we must pay in exchange for the joy that they give us during their short lifetimes.
Knowing this doesn’t make it any easier though, but this time too shall pass. Right now, thinking of those wonderful memories only amplify the fact that he is no longer physically with us. But in time, those fond memories will once again shine through as priceless experiences which enriched our lives each and every day.
By yesterday, I sensed that his time was short, and we said our goodbyes to him just in case. I thanked him for choosing us to spend his precious life with, and for the joy and companionship that this wonderful intelligent creature gave us. The night before, I had also asked my dad (who passed in 1996) to welcome Beasley as he crosses over, and to take care of him for us. I know he’s in good hands.
Baxter, you brought us joy and companionship unmatched by any other pet. I will miss your loud meow (Maoooow), I will miss your uncanny perception & intelligence, I will miss your purring as you cuddle in my lap, your hyper spells, and most of all, I will miss you, my dear dear friend. You will never be forgotten. We will love you forever.
May God bless you Beasley.