Ogden was diagnosed with cancer at the end of November 2002. As part of a way of dealing with what was happening to him, I e-mailed friends and family with my thoughts and our experiences. I've compiled all of those e-mails in The Ogden Files.
Below is the last e-mail I will ever send about Ogden:
My heart is breaking. My little guy lost his battle with cancer tonight. He died on July 15th, somewhere around 8:30pm. It all happened so fast.
I came home a little later than usual tonight. Ogden wasn't sleeping on the bed like he had been the past couple of days. He wasn't sleeping in the closet in Jeff's boxer crate, either. That had been his "I want to be alone" spot. I found him tucked in the corner of the closet. As soon as he saw me, he started to purr very loudly. I moved stuff to get to him and suddenly realized that Ogden was having trouble standing up. He seemed a little disoriented, too.
Jeff came home a few minutes after I made my discovery and took control as I was starting to lose it. He brought the two of us outside for one final romp in the garden. As we watched Ogden struggle to get around, it became quite clear that it would indeed be our last. Ogden could not stand and walking was almost impossible. He also would twitch every so often. At first, it was a mild twitch but then soon many of them turned pretty violent.
About an hour and a half later, we decided it was time to put Ogden to sleep. I carried him to the car and sat in the backseat as Jeff drove slowly and carefully, trying to avoid the bumps. Ogden was clearly in a bit of pain. He tried very hard to look out the window but I think the motion of the ride was making him sick.
When we got to the University hospital, Ogden cried and cried as I walked up the now familiar path to the entrance. He knew exactly where he was and he didn't want to be there.
Jeff informed the front desk that we needed to put Ogden to sleep and they took him from me to put in an IV catheter. They put us in a lavender room, which must be specifically reserved for this kind of thing because in all our visits to the U, we had never seen a room this nice before.
It seemed like an eternity before they returned Ogden to my arms. The doctor wouldn't be in for a few minutes so we had time to wait and just be with Ogden. Within a few minutes, Ogden began squirming and crying. Jeff ran to get the doctor. Ogden let out the worst howl I have ever heard in my life and his heart stopped almost instantaneously. He died in my arms.
Ogden purred almost to the very end. It was a strong, deep purr. I am happy that I got to be with Ogden when he died. I am glad that he didn't have to go through it by himself. I think he waited until I could be with him. I am happy that he went quickly. I am also grateful that I really didn't have to make the final decision to end his life. It was indeed time and Ogden decided that.
The doctor at the University was very nice - she even gave us an impression of Ogden's pawprint (it's like a little cookie that you bake until it hardens).
We will most likely bury him tomorrow night, under the bird feeder so that he can be near me and be able to sneak up on the birds.
Ogden was the best cat in the world. As we laid on the floor together in the house as he was dying, I remembered lots of things he and I have been through.
I'll remember Ogden the kitten climbing up to the top shelf of my closet in college and knocking over a box of cat food (because he was hungry and I was a sleepy college student who wouldn't get up to feed him), a 5 pound bag of sugar (for ice tea), and a whole big bottle of dishwashing detergent, all of which burst open and mixed in a great big pile on the floor. What a mess!
I'll remember Ogden's little heading whipping back and forth as the sheep on campus were being moved from one field to another and their path took them right in front of our dorm window.
I'll remember the way Ogden loved to grab the brush out of my hands so that he could brush his own face.
I'll remember that Ogden loved to play peek-a-boo. I'll remember the joy he had in his eyes as he would whack me as hard as he could in my face whenever I popped around the corner and shouted "Boo!"
I'll remember that Ogden would coming running if he heard the slightest movement of his harness. He loved to be outside.
I'll remember that Ogden loved to stick his nose in my ear and purr as loudly as he could. I can almost feel the goosebumps the rumblings created.
Most of all, I'll remember that Ogden loved to humor me. He put up with all the crazy things I did to him (all the trips on an airplane, all the moving from apartment to apartment, the time he was "Bat Cat" for Halloween....). There aren't many other cats that would do that. I loved him for that. He was the best cat in the world.
Hug your animals and human loved ones tonight. A great one has fallen.