Last Sunday Tux seemed out of sorts, and by Monday afternoon we knew something wasn't right. I called the vet, and we agreed that if Tux didn't improve overnight, I would call first thing in the morning so they could try to fit him into their schedule. (Because of COVID-related staffing shortages, they didn't have an on-call doc available that evening or any appointments available the following day.)
As the evening wore on Tux seemed more and more lethargic and uncomfortable, so at some point Tom called the TAMU Small Animal Hospital Emergency Department and we decided to take him to be seen. I checked him in around 9:45pm, and over the course of the two hours they did blood work and a sedated exam. We - Tom and me, and even the medical staff - were expecting an infection, or a toxin, or a partial obstruction. Sadly, what they found was much worse...and the worst case scenario. Tux had severe and terminal kidney disease. He had likely lived with it (and hid it from us) for years, and then something triggered - it's unlikely we'll ever know what - this catastrophic and sudden decline in health.
I don't want to go into too much detail here, but the gist of it is that Tux was in pain (in addition to his nonfunctioning kidneys, his mouth was full of ulcers), there were no options for a full recovery, and there were no good options for treatment, so at 12:45am, Tom and I made the horrible decision to let him go. I was still at the hospital, so Tom woke up the kids, explained what was about to happen, and brought them to campus.
I don't want to go into any detail here, because it was awful and I want to respect my kids' privacy. When it was done and we were on our way home, Hallie told me it had been the worst night of her life; I know it was also the worst night of Will's life and one of the darkest nights of my and Tom's lives. We loved Tux with our whole hearts, and to lose him at such a "young" age and so unexpectedly was devastating.
The medical staff at TAMU was amazing. Walking through that evening with them was a powerful experience, and they made me appreciate more than ever before the importance of teaching - alongside science and medicine - kindness and compassion.
Our friends are amazing. Their kind words, thoughtful gestures, and generous gifts and donations in memory of Tux remind me of how lucky we are to have found people who love us so well.
July 20, 2014 - December 28, 2021
We adopted Tux from friends (they returned home from vacation to find that their cat - who they didn't know was pregnant - had given birth) when he was seven or eight weeks old. Shortly after we brought him home, I wrote the following about our time together. "Despite his frequent and vicious attacks on our toes, ankles, and hair and his semi-regular pooping in the sink, bathtub, trashcans, and laundry baskets, Tux has found a place in our hearts. At first Will wouldn't go near the little fur ball for fear of getting scratched or bitten, but now they have developed a boy-and-his-dog relationship similar to the one Will once had with Duke. Hallie and Tux, on the other hand, have developed a girl-and-her-doll relationship similar to the one she has with…her dolls. Tux is all we'd hoped for in a pet."
Tux loved us all, but he loved Will most of all. They had a bond that couldn't be broken, and so while we all lost a beloved pet and member of our family, Will also lost his best friend. One of Tux's favorite activities was catching outdoor critters and sharing them with Will as a token of his love; over the years Tux brought Will (into the house, into Will's room, and a couple of times even into Will's shoes) two baby bunnies, one mouse, one rat, one snake, one skink, and more lizards than we could count.
Tux also adored Mandi and Kaylee, both of whom adored him right back.
Beyond people and critters, Tux loved spending time outside (he actually preferred relieving himself outside rather than in a litter box), lounging in front of the fireplace, sleeping in clean laundry, and having his fur vacuumed/dustbusted. He liked high places - the top of the refrigerator, the bathroom windowsill, the roof, shoulders - and sinks, and like most cats, he lived for a good box. When he was little, Tux's favorite activity was unrolling all of the toilet paper in the house. He even managed to clog the toilet a few times by unrolling the toilet paper directly into the bowl.
He did not love fostering kittens (though on occasion he attempted to teach some of the bigger and older kittens how to wrestle), wearing a harness, riding in the stroller, visiting the vet, or when we traveled.