The Life, Love and Death of Dylan the Cat

Dylan and me, Silver Spring, Maryland, October 2005

“Life is for love.”

–Bob Dylan, “I Feel A Change Is Coming On” Together Through Life

Our beloved 7-year old black tabby cat Dylan is dying. On Monday morning Elizabeth and I will make a difficult trip with Dylan (named after the legendary poet musician) to the vet so he can be euthanized. Since early July 2010, Dylan has been suffering gradually from kidney problems. Although we’ve occasionally been giving him medicine and fluids over the past year, he was mostly fine. I had come to believe (albeit naively in retrospect) that Dylan would be fine and live a few more years.¬†But the reality of Dylan’s situation settled in a couple of week’s ago as he started to show signs of lethargy, eat less and throw up on the bedroom floor. In the last seven days he has stopped eating completely, lost a lot of weight , has quit going to the bathroom, and is sleeping/cuddling with Elizabeth in the bed most of the time–showing nearly no interest in play, particularly with his sister and litter mate Harper, a gray tabby named after the author Harper Lee.

Dylan and Harper, Silver Spring, Maryland, October 2005

My heart breaks for him but more so for Harper and Elizabeth. I’m worried about how Harper will manage without her dear brother and friend; they were such a funny pair. Dylan, being the more adventurous and easy going, brought a lot of fun and comfort to Harper. Watching them bathe, play, wrestle and cuddle with one another are memories I will keep as long as my heart and mind allows.

I’m also concerned about Elizabeth, who is losing one of her best friends and “babies.” We got Dylan and Harper from a rescue organization in College Park, MD in October 2005, a few months after moving to nearby Silver Spring for my first church call as an associate pastor. We had just graduated seminary, only been married a year and a half and were living far away from close friends and family. The transition to a new church and place was difficult, especially for Elizabeth who decided not to pursue a career in ordained ministry. Dylan and Harper were her friends, children and only source of comfort while I was working and trying to figure out my role as a pastor.

Dylan resting on Elizabeth’s face, Silver Spring, Maryland, October 2005

Pets are family members and beautiful creations of God. They provide companionship, friendship, love and joy in our lives. Dylan has given us so much and more: a cool and funny cat who let you pick him up anytime, who would flop down in any spot (Elizabeth’s face while she was sleeping) to hang out or nap, who would chase your shadow on the wall or stick his nose in your dinner plate, and who would greet anyone who walked in the door. Shyness never was in Dylan’s genes. And he has been a good sport about putting up with our 1 and half year old goofy black lab Wally and Katie’s silly antics. Katie is so sweet to the cats, just now at the age where she can pet them, feed them regularly, talk to them and appreciate who they are as members of the family. She often says comforting words to them and I take some solace in knowing that she will watch over Harper.

Dylan will be deeply missed and honestly, I don’t want to miss him. I don’t want to cry or feel sadness or see my wife’s heart break or listen to Harper meow for her friend or have to explain to Katie where Dylan has gone. And I certainly don’t want him to suffer but I don’t want to take him to the vet and them bury him later in our front yard.

While I know that we will carry memories of Dylan in our heart and eventually move on from this tragedy, no platitudes or thoughts of better days seem applicable at the moment.

Right now we feel broken and numb and even a bit angry that this incredible creature is leaving us way too soon and taking a lot of love with him.

Keep us all in your prayers.

Dylan chilling in front of the computer, Rockville, Maryland, Fall 2007
Dylan, Elizabeth and Katie, Duluth, Georgia, July 2008
Katie and Dylan, Duluth, Georgia, August 2008
Katie, Dylan and me, Lilburn, Georgia, September 2008
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