Remembering Sizzle, My Wonderful Gentle Giant

Sizzle

It’s been nearly a month, and I still don’t believe he’s gone. My huge, beautiful, bright orange Sizzle… He was a patient, gentle soul who loved his cat family, and he loved me almost as much as I still love him. Our cats never really leave us, and I know he’s still here. I feel his presence in all of his favorite places. But I would give anything to be able to see him again and rest my head on his. 

He was so big, when we sat beside each other on the floor, his eyes were almost level with mine. I treasure the memories of those moments when we looked into each other’s eyes, and I told him I loved him more than he could imagine. He’d look back at me with so much affection in his heart and his eyes. I miss him so much…

Thank You Craig’s List

 

Sizzle enjoying a stretch in our outdoor enclosure.

Sizzle and his sister, Luna, and I met on Craig’s List. A woman was offering $1,000 to the person who would adopt her cats, keep them together and let them go outside. She was moving overseas and couldn’t take them. I wrote to her and asked her to please get rid of the $1,000. I told her someone should adopt the cats because they wanted the cats, not because they wanted a lot of money. If they didn’t get adopted, I said, they could come to my rescue’s cage-free, no-kill shelter.

Two months later, Sizzle and Luna arrived at our shelter, and that’s where they lived for two years. Sizzle loved it there. He loved the other cats and was friends with all of them. He loved the volunteers, and he loved our outdoor enclosure or catio. Luna though was miserable. She was not fond of cats.

In all the time they were with us, we got just one adoption inquiry. The people drove two hours from Pennsylvania to meet them, and Sizzle and I hated them at first sight. The man was loud and obnoxious, and so were the two kids. Nonetheless, since they had driven so far, I packed up Sizzle and Luna and sent them off to their new home. By then, I’d had enough experience adopting out cats to know if they weren’t happy, they’d find a way to be returned to us.

For a week, their new “dad” wrote to me daily to complain about Luna. She was hiding, and they had no idea where she was. She wouldn’t come out from under the kitchen table. She refused to eat. The list went on and on…

But on Saturday, the email was about Sizzle, not Luna. He had pooped on their bed! While they were in it! That’s one way of getting the message across… The entire family was on the way to Maryland to return the cats. I was happy and sort of relieved that they were coming back.

Welcome Home, Sizzle And Luna

Sizzle and his best buddy Myles nap on the balcony.

Even before I got to the shelter, I knew Sizzle and Luna would be coming home with me. We were moving to a new location, and all the other cats had left. And Sizzle and Luna had spent enough time in a shelter, even a nice one. It was time for them to have a real home.

But Luna wasn’t happy here. She didn’t like living with so many cats and decided she’d rather spend all of her time outside. Every night, I’d make a trail of treats up the steps to our third floor condo or move a dish of food from step to step until she’d eaten her way indoors. Eventually, she moved in with a neighbor. Finally, she had the happy home she deserved. 

When Luna moved in with Caroline, I was happy for her but sad for Sizzle. They were such close friends, and I worried that he’d miss her. But by then, Myles had arrived. An orange and white tux like Sizzle, he came here as a foster and never left, mainly because he and Sizzle became best friends.

Because Sizzle was too big to fit comfortably in a cat bed, I bought him a dog bed. At night, I often found him and Myles cuddled together in the big bed. 

No… He Can’t Be In Congestive Heart Failure!

It’s been 12 years since the night Sizzle came in meowing nonstop. He was wobbly, and blood was dripping out of his mouth. At the ER, the doctor said he was in congestive heart failure, and his body was shutting down. He suggested euthanasia, but I said that was not an option and I wanted him to do everything in his power to save my cat.

Sizzle spent the rest of the night in an oxygen cage, hooked up to an IV. By the next afternoon, he was stable enough for me to take him to VCA Veterinary Referral Associates in Gaithersburg. For some reason, the GPS thought we wanted to take the scenic route, and we wound around steep curves for an hour with Sizzle moaning the whole time. Not only was he in heart failure, he got very carsick.

But I thought since he was meowing, he must be okay. I was wrong though. The doctors rushed him into an oxygen cage the second we got there, and that’s where he stayed for a week. 

I visited him every day. I’d sit on the floor in front of his cage and listen to his “I’m going to be okay” purr. It was hard to believe that such a huge, brightly colored cat could be so sick.

Life With Sizzle

Sizzle patrols the sidewalk.

Sizzle came home from the hospital with four kinds of heart meds to be cut into tiny quarters and halves and loaded into an empty gel cap twice a day. He also took fish oil, CoQ10 and a compounded liquid heart medication. Being the patient, smart cat that he was, he took the medicine begrudgingly but willingly for 12 years. He did figure out how to bend his tongue up so the capsule wouldn’t go down his throat and he could spit it out. But fortunately, he didn’t do that often.

Sizzle had many different meows that he saved just for me. I never knew exactly what he was saying, but we had many heart-to-heart conversations while I was brushing him or leaning over him to reach the sink so I could brush my teeth and put on makeup. Brushing was one of his favorite things, and I brushed him almost every night. As he got older, I treasured those few minutes we had together, just the two of us. He’d purr and meow his conversational meows, and when we were done brushing, I’d rest my head on his and tell him how much I loved him. 

For years, he and Myles spent almost all day every day sitting on the sidewalk together outside. They were my orange and white tuxedo tag team. When dogs went by, Myles would disappear into the bushes. But Sizzle sat on the sidewalk and stared them down. He looked so big and orange and imposing, even the large dogs were a bit afraid of him.

When we lost Myles to cancer, Sizzle stopped going out during the day. But he still enjoyed going out at night to nibble grass and walk with me and the other cats at a very leisurely pace. Energy conservation was one of Sizzle’s main goals in life. He liked to sleep on my feet. But he waited to lie down until I was settled in and comfortable so he wouldn’t have to get up every time I moved.

At his peak, he weighed 21 pounds! He wasn’t obese, he was just big. But he was a cat who lived to eat. He’s the only cat I’ve ever known who started purring when I put food down and continued to purr while he ate. He would do just about anything for a pile of Temptations treats. 

After we lost Myles, his eyes always looked sort of sad. He was friends with the other cats, but they just weren’t the same as his best buddy. And while I tried to make it up to him, I’m not a cat.

So now they’re together again, and I’m happy about that. But I miss him so much. I miss his gentleness and kindness, our private conversations while I was brushing him, resting my head on his and all that weight on my feet while I slept. 

At his last cardiology recheck, the doctor called him a miracle cat. He was 20 years old and had lived with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy for 12 years. But even miracles don’t last forever. So my wonderful Sizzle is gone, but our hearts will be connected forever. Until we meet again, dear Sizzle. Until we meet again… 

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