Jack Daniels Burnett
They say cats have nine lives. I take that statement differently than most. I think those are moments in our lives where we’ve needed them the most that we cling to them. That’s where Jack comes in for me. He was a special animal and so very important to me. He was one of those once in a life time animals that can never be replaced nor compared to so, here is his story.
He was born on July 25th, 2004 in Mountain Home, Arkansas and found by a Good Samaritan. He and another kitten were taken to a vet clinic to be neutered and to have his eye removed. It was badly damaged from something getting a hold of him. A colleague told me about the kittens at the clinic. I lived alone and was looking to get one to keep me company while I attended mortuary school. I had no intentions of taking both kittens. While the grey tabby played with my hand the black one was facing the other direction ignoring me. When he finally turned around he instantly reached for me. I saw he only had one eye. I said to myself “No one is going to want this little one eyed black cat”. So I told the vet I’d take them both. I spent well over $200 buying all sorts of supplies. I got the home and it was so much fun having them both there. They also kept each other company. Our first night together Jagger slept on my head on top of my ear motor running full blast. Jack laid on my neck and purred quieter than his new brother.
Fast forward a few months, and I found my self married and living in an apartment with someone who hated them. He beat them a few times in which I got involved because they were both babies. Karma later played into that behavior and we moved in with my mom.
She told me having them was a bad idea. Her opinion quickly changed when she realized how sweet they were. Mom loved cats especially since they were in the kitten stages. They were both just fun to be around. But I quickly noticed how much different Jack was. He had a more human like personality versus cat like. He would follow me around, sleep under the covers with his head on my pillow, eat several things most cats would turn their nose up at.
While I lived with my mother she noticed he would cry when I left. Didn’t matter how long I would be gone as soon as I left he would cry. Momma always told him he was a cry baby and of course I’d pick him up and coddle him. I’d say to him “My ol spoiled rotten son”! He was stuck to me like glue if I was home. Most people don’t consider pets as kids but I am one that does. They still require the same treatments as children.
I had a few people who I am friends with that didn’t like cats. Well, he was definitely an exception to their rule. They loved him. They always said “He’s so cool how’d you get so lucky? I’d just pick him up and love on him and tell him he’s my sweet son. Everyone he met he liked and greeted. He never ran away or acted shy around new people. He was the center of attention when people came over. He was just a different cat and walked around like he owned the place. Not because he had that typical “cat attitude”. I think it was because he just had a natural confidence about him. If you were walking around he’d be walking around with you too. He’d make you walk around him. I guess that’s my fault since I never made him move.
He always enjoyed sunning in the windows, playing with his cat nip mice, using his scratching pads after it had cat nip sprinkled on it. There’s usually one thing that you do NOT to with a cat. Do NOT and I repeat to do NOT rub their belly. Well, not him. He loved it and would gladly except it no problems. He loved to go outside and prowl around. I took a picture while he was in the backyard and he was smelling around and looked like a little mini panther in his domain. He never went outside without me and we would always go out together. One of the things he liked before his passing was his new water fountain. He would have both feet in the fountain while drinking and his entire chin would be soaked. When he would go to the bathroom he’d tear out of the litter box doing 90 to nothing yelling and running down the side of the bed sideways. Yes I said side ways. He defied gravity during his tear.
Jack was so sweet. He always had to be in my lap and even when I came home for lunch wearing my suit pants he would quickly stake his claim in my lap. It didn’t matter what I was doing as long as he could be in my lap. He was always cuddly. Especially at bed time. If he got up during the night to get a drink or a bite to eat he would come back to bed and stick his face in mine. Of course his whiskers tickled my face and I’d wake up and open the covers for him to get under. After he got settled we would go back to sleep. He also was a great study buddy while I was in mortuary school. We enjoyed each other’s company and where I went, he went.
He also enjoyed whatever I was having to eat. You’re probably thinking “No way will a cat eat people food”. You would be wrong. He loved ham, turkey, steak, pork chops, white gravy, chess pie, Hostess cherry pies, biscuits, pound cake, yellow cake, cheese, bacon, eggs, chicken, different soups, and one of the things that I had to almost fight him over were the Hostess powdered donuts. Yes, he would reach at my face as I would put one in my mouth like I was forgetting his piece. We almost had a fight over who got the last one. Oh, you all already know, he got the last one! Spoiled brat! Gosh he was a character when it came to food. Most of the time if I ate it he would usually eat it. He would often reach for me to give him a piece of whatever I was eating and I’d tell him “you’re not going to eat this”. He would often prove me wrong and eat something off the wall.
Over the several months I notice a change. He started to lose weight, his coat was dull, and he didn’t have the same pep in his step like he always did. We went to the vet because it just wasn’t like him. I didn’t know if we’d reached the “old man” stage or what. That day he was diagnosed with advanced kidney disease. He was switched over to Science Diet K/d. He ate it for a while and then stopped. More weight loss followed. One evening late, he would stare at his water bowl, walk into the bathroom and just cry. I’d ask him “Whatcha crying for son”? He would come back to me and snuggle. He did that for a couple more hours before I got up and took him to the ER vet on Summer Ave. His kidney numbers were so high they wouldn’t even read on the doctor’s scale. He mentioned euthanasia, but I told him that wasn’t an option right now and I really couldn’t make that decision at 2:00am. He stayed over night and was given meds and fluids. I picked him up and took him to his vet Dr. Bell. He called me later that morning and said “This kid is sick, I mean he’s in trouble”. I told him I knew and to whatever he needed to do. I took him home a couple of days later and he seemed really good. He felt better, he started eating and drinking and was more active. The next 2 weeks he had blood work done and his numbers were coming back up. Doc said, “For now, he’s okay and just being a cat. But when he turns, it will be fast and there will need to be a decision made”. I said understood but I was just wanting to spend as much time with him as I could. Jack did in fact go down hill quicker than I thought. February 1st, I saw the suffering in his face. He sat down, looked up at me and gave me one of the most saddest meows I’ve ever heard. I asked him, “Is it time”? He looked away from me when I said that. So I picked him up and loved on him. I stayed up with him off and on all night long. He was very uncomfortable I could tell. But he did still get under the cover with me and snuggle. He was a shell of his former self and it wasn’t fair to him even though it was going to hurt like hell letting him go. I held him as long as he let me and kept him warm. On the morning of February 2nd, at 8:08am Jack went to sleep in my lap like he always has. I know my momma took over from there.
My sweet son Jack was my best friend no questions asked. He was there for me when I went to mortuary school, the two divorces, several moves, my mother’s passing, my cancer treatment, just to name a few. He was just always there for me. Having a one eyed black cat has been a gift that I dearly needed in my life. I guess I expected him to live for forever. It’s quiet at home. No one greets me at the door. I miss the talking as soon as I came in the door. We had many conversations over 16 and a half years. He’s not there to snuggle after a long day or at bed time. He usually is waiting at the bathroom door when I get out of the shower. He joins me in the bathroom as I get ready for work. Usually sitting on the toilet or the floor next to me. I miss his little meows and him reaching for my face when he wanted to head butt me. I’ve asked this to a few people how is it that these little creatures exist in our lives and mean so much? It’s crazy how much he means to me and my heart hurts so badly. I miss him terribly and my life will never be the same without him.
I’d like to thank Dr. Rusty Bell, Carol Smith, and the rest of the staff at Animal Health Center for the care and compassion they had for Jack. I was able to hold him when he went and talk to him the whole time making sure I let him know I loved him. I could never tell him enough anyway. I’d also like to thank Nina Pollitt for being there with me through it all so I wasn’t alone. She’s a real MVP! Last but certainly not least, Peebles Pet Services. They set him up in a room so I could be with him before his cremation. It was so wonderfully handled. I was also allowed to watch him go into the retort and the door close behind him. I was able to pick him up and take him home within an hour and a half. They understood I didn’t want to leave him behind. They are wonderful and compassionate people.
I’d like to offer a piece of advice for anyone who owns an older cat. Please make sure you get bloodwork done every so often for their kidneys. Not every cat will have kidney disease but it’s important that their kidneys be checked. Jack put on a brave face for me but inside he was very sick. I gave him the greatest gift and that was to let him go.
I researched kidney disease in cats and if anyone wants to donate to this fund the donations go to research for kidney disease in cats. Giveto.osu.edu/makeagift/?fund=31586