Mia

Mia_Blue Pillow
This is Mia.

Mia was, until earlier today, our cat. My wife, Dana, and I were forced to put the little girl to sleep after she became tremendously ill last night.

Shoebox MiaBack in February, Mia clearly wasn’t feeling well—she was lethargic and refused to eat. A trip to the vet revealed that she had hepatitis, which attacks the liver. She was given some medication, and after a while, she was back to her old self.

Mia_RollingDana and I recently noticed that Mia was showing those same symptoms again. She was less active than she usually is, and her food dish would be left untouched. Yesterday, I took Mia to the vet while Dana was at work. Mia was given the same diagnosis as before, and I took her home with a fresh batch of medicine. Shortly after returning home, however, Mia took a turn for the worse. She began having difficulty breathing and she could not move on her own. She had a similar reaction to her first dose of medicine back in February, though, so we weren’t too concerned.

Mia_StretchedAs the evening went on, however, she was clearly having more and more trouble breathing. Dana and I became so concerned that we rushed her to a 24 hour emergency vet at around midnight. The vet stabilized her with and IV and an oxygen tank and kept her overnight so that he could give her an X-ray and an ultrasound. At around 8:00 this morning, the emergency vet told us that she was stable enough to be moved to her regular vet. We transported Mia and left her with the vet for a couple hours.

Mia on DSThe vet called us with terrible news. With a new X-ray of Mia in hand, the vet was able to compare it with her old X-ray taken back in February. A giant tumor was growing out of Mia’s liver. Although it wasn’t noticeable from outside of her body, the tumor was massive. The vet explained that Mia most likely had lymphoma, a type of cancer that sadly, isn’t all that treatable in cats.

This is what Dana and I had feared, and we had discussed our options while waiting for the vet’s call. We rushed to the vet where we made the decision that Mia would have to be put to sleep. The poor thing was in terrible shape when we arrived. Her breathing had become so strained that her teeth were bared (which is something she never did) as she struggled for breath.

Mia and DanaAfter a brief discussion with the vet, Dana and I opted to be with Mia when she died. We went into a room and Mia was placed on a blanket on the table. Dana and I each took turns holding her one last time, and we wept openly. We told Mia that she was a wonderful cat and that we loved her.

With that, the vet placed the syringe in her leg and prepared to give her the final injection. Dana stood near Mia’s head and scratched it as our cat passed. Mia loved to get head rubs from Dana. I, meanwhile, stood behind Mia and gave her a tummy scritch, the term we used for when Mia would flop on the floor in front of me as an invitation to scratch her belly. The vet slowly injected the fluid, and within seconds, Mia was gone.

Mia_Laundry DayShe’s gone, but she died with her people around her, giving her as much love as she got in life.

As I type this through tear-blurred eyes, I know that it might seem somewhat grim to recount our beloved cat’s final day. To be honest, though, we’re both in a world of shock still, and this is helping me deal with the situation.

It’s hitting Dana and I so hard because we loved—no, we love—our cat. I’m going to argue that you can continue to love something that is not around anymore. We got Mia from an animal shelter in Illinois back in January, 2001, and she has been an important part of our family ever since. When I moved to California with my Ziff Davis job, Mia stayed in Chicago with Dana as Dana completed law school. Dana fully credits Mia’s companionship with giving her the strength to finish her classes. When I would fly back to Illinois to visit Dana, it would always strike me as amusing that Dana seemed to treat Mia more like a roommate than a pet, something that I’ve told her in the past.

Mia_MeerkittyIt’s true that Mia went well past the pet level for us into full-on buddy category. She was terrifically friendly, and she had several personality quirks that further endeared her to us.

Mia Enjoy CondensationI’ve posted videos on YouTube of Mia’s odd drinking habits. I don’t know why, but I was always amused by her love of a tasty beverage. Whether she was drinking water out of her bowl with her paw, standing up to grab an ice cube that we would drop into her water or simply licking condensation off of one of my drinks, Mia wouldn’t let anything get between her and refreshment.

Mia_Death StarIn recent months, Mia has taken to sitting on my lap, which is something that she wouldn’t do in the past. Occasionally when I would be sitting at my computer desk, I would feel a light tapping on my thigh. When I looked down, Mia would be standing on her hind legs and tapping me. As I noticed her, she would look up at me with a look of, “Why aren’t you petting me?” If I just scratched her head for a bit and returned to my computer, she would start tapping me again. Eventually, I would pick her up and drop her on my lap. Nine times out of ten, she would delicately cuddle up on my leg and chill out for a while. When Dana would be in bed, Mia would use the tapping technique to get Dana’s attention, usually with the intent of wanting some petting.

Mia and PhilMia also got into the habit lately of climbing up onto my stomach as I lay on the couch watching TV or playing a game. She would perch on my stomach and proceed to do that cat kneading thing for up to 10-15 minutes at a time. It kills me to know that I’ll never feel that again.

Yes, Mia was a wonderful, beautiful cat, and we are heartbroken that she is gone. Although the place that we adopted her from didn’t know her exact age, we estimate that she was probably about ten years old (or perhaps slightly older). It’s a relatively early age for a cat to die, but even so, she had a fantastic life. She was loved and comforted right up until the end.

So for you regular listeners of the podcast, if you don’t hear a familiar, faint bell jingle in the background anymore, you’ll know why. Dana and I already miss that jingle.

We miss our Mia.

Mia Shrugged

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27 Comments

  1. Scott
    Posted July 9, 2009 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Rest in peace, Mia. My family lost our ten year old dog in 2002 and I still grieve her to this day! There is no replacing the companionship of a pet. But watching my daughter play Nintendogs seems to help.

  2. mrplaid
    Posted July 9, 2009 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    Sorry to read about your kitty. I know how hard it is to lose a pet you really love. :(

  3. Posted July 9, 2009 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    I’m very sorry to hear about your kitty Phil! My old cat Onyx is going on 18 years old next month, he gave me a few scares this year but I dread when that day comes.

    Those videos are adorable, Onyx loves to drink out of his paw as well.

  4. Sneakyturtleegg (Jason)
    Posted July 9, 2009 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    It is always terrible thing to put a pet down. You and Dana have my condolences.

  5. archnemesis
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    I’m sorry for your loss. Putting down an animal must be a terrible experience. My 18 year old cat recently got an epileptic seizure and even though the vet couldn’t find any other health issues, I’m sure he won’t be around for much longer.

  6. Posted July 10, 2009 at 4:01 am | Permalink

    Sorry to hear that. That’s never fun. Try and remember the good things, I’m sure that you gave her a good life while she was around.

  7. lactose
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 4:27 am | Permalink

    my condolences to you and your family

  8. Jon
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    My condolences to you and your wife, as my wife and I did the same thing a few months ago. There is no way to truly describe how a pet can transcend the role of ‘pet’ and become part of your life and family, and to have that taken away is very painful and emotional to you. As you’ve said, you and Dana can take solace in knowing that you gave her a wonderful life and were with her to the end. Best of luck and well wishes through these next few days and weeks…

  9. Danny
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    I’m terribly sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing this with us. I got a little misty eyed reading this. Mia reminds me a lot of the cat I used to have with my ex and it really made me miss her (the cat) a lot.

  10. Posted July 10, 2009 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the kind words and support, everyone. Dana appreciates it, too. We’re still trying to cope around here. The apartment seems sadly quiet without Mia walking around.

  11. zuluniner
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    I am so, so sorry. In 1995 my family and I had to put our dog Misha (of 15 years) to sleep and to this day, hearing of another person’s loss of their pet makes me misty-eyed. Always hold on to the good memories.

  12. Posted July 10, 2009 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Pleas accept my and my wife’s deepest sympathy. We had to put down our 19 year old cat last Summer and it was very hard.

  13. Steven
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    So sorry to hear about your loss. I’m sad that I’ll never again hear her jingling in the background of the podcast. The videos are terrific.

  14. RealEvil (Neil)
    Posted July 11, 2009 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Im so sorry for your loss. Losing a a loved pet is tragic. Time will help, just remember the good times.

  15. sammy
    Posted July 11, 2009 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    I’m so sorry to hear. My thoughts are with you and your family…

  16. I AM JOHN!
    Posted July 12, 2009 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    I’m really sorry to hear that, man.

  17. Joakim (Slashneed)
    Posted July 12, 2009 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Hi Phil and Dana, my condolences to you both, me and the family have 2 cats and they´re both around 10 years now and I sometimes wonder how it will be without them or if it’s even possible! Both cats have some real quirky behaviour and I’ll be damned if they really aren´t tiny humans with four legs and fur!

    I hope you´ll learn to cope with this as I’m sure I also have to do sometime.

    I wish you all the best. Joakim.

  18. Salt Grenade
    Posted July 12, 2009 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Very sad to hear the news Phil. I wish you and Dana the best.

    That Star Wars box photo is hilarious, btw.

  19. Posted July 12, 2009 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    One of my favorite bits we ever did in XG was the page in the May 2001 issue where we explained/debunked the various things from the April issue that readers had submitted as fake (in order to claim the April Fool contest prize) that were, in fact, not fake at all. I don’t even remember what the real fake item was (and I sadly seem to have lost most of my XG issues, including that one).

    Among the not-fake things from the April issue were my new TV and Phil’s new cat, Mia. I had Phil come by my apartment (probably during “lunch”) and take a picture of me gesturing at my TV, gameshow presenter-style. Then, he took the camera to his apartment and gestured the same way at Mia, as she sat peacefully on the couch. Good times.

    I’m sorry I was never able to meet Mia in person, but I’d say she was the unofficial cat of both XG and P1P. Also 7-Eleven.

  20. thorbahn3
    Posted July 12, 2009 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Sorry to hear that Phil. I always liked your youtube vids you would upload of her licking the condensation of your sluprees. Guess I won’t hear her bell ring in the background noise of the podcast either…

  21. Posted July 12, 2009 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    Thanks again, everyone. Your comments have been great. It makes Dana and I feel better for being so broken up about our cat.

    The guys and I recorded the new episode today, and chatting with the guys really helped to cheer me up as well, so that was good.

    Slim, I will have to dig up that issue of XG and scan the article in question. If I remember correctly, the real April Fool’s trick was unlocking Jango Fett’s ship in one of the Star Wars Episode I games (this was well before many Episode II details started leaking, of course).

  22. Gareth
    Posted July 12, 2009 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    Really sorry to hear that Phil. She sounds like she was one kick-ass kitty.

    Just last my dog had to go into the vet to get some teeth pulled, and had to get a general anaesthetic. I know I was nervous all day that something would go wrong.

    So I can only imagine how hard it would be for you guys.

  23. Gareth
    Posted July 12, 2009 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    Phil… perhaps this short clip of my dog doing her best kangaroo impression might cheer you up.

  24. Mr Alarm
    Posted July 13, 2009 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    So sorry to hear about your loss, Phil! I was getting choked up just reading your story…

    To my wife and myself, our pets are like children. Putting one of them to sleep a couple years ago was incredibly hard to do, and now, as our cat gets older by the day (she’s around 15), I constantly fear having to go through that experience again.

    I admire you for doing the right thing and handling the situation so well. Our thoughts (my wife is a fan of the show as well) are with you and Dana.

  25. Ness08
    Posted July 13, 2009 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Really sorry to hear about your loss. I wish the best to your and your wife.

    Me and my wife have called a cat our “son” since the day we brought him home and now we tell our 10 month old that he is her older brother. I don’t look forward to the day that we may have to deal with the same

  26. Adam
    Posted July 15, 2009 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    Sorry to hear about Mia. She looks like a cutie. It is times like these you realize how much pets can change your life.

    PS Dana is hot dude, good job.

  27. Adam
    Posted July 15, 2009 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    PSS props on the Ayan Rand there.

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