2 days ago, our precious Simba had a terrible accident. He found a flaw in our cat proofed balcony and jumped/fell down. We don’t know exactly what happened because we didn’t see it happening. We rushed him to a pet clinic as soon as possible, but unfortunately he didn’t make it. This is a tribute to Simba, who will be so so missed.
I hope writing this will also help me process this loss. Writing has always been therapeutic to me, getting my thoughts and feelings on paper helps me free my mind. Although I think I will also need a lot of time to heal from this.
I still remember the first time I met Simba. We went to check him out at the family’s home when he was a bit over 4 weeks old. He fit in my hand, he was so small. I fell in love instantly, Vittorio said he could see it in my eyes.
We had to wait a bit longer, since he was still drinking with his mom and had to be at least 12 weeks old to leave the nest. We waited impatiently.
Bringing him home
Flash forward to 16 July 2020, the day I brought him home. Instantly curious, exploring the house. Playing with his new toys. But also: sleeping next to us on the couch. The first night, I slept on the couch with him so Vittorio could get some sleep because he would be miaowing all the time.
He wasn’t a lap cat or a cat that would want to be cuddled for too long. He was too cool for that, he wanted to play and be the King of the room.
Because of Corona, Vittorio and me would always be at home. So we spent more or less 24/7 together. So despite him not being an affectionate cat, he showed his affection in other ways. He always wanted to be in the same room as one of us at least. If we were both in the kitchen, he would come there as well (unless he was sleeping).
The few days that Vitto still went to the office and I worked from home, he was always near me:
His favourite place to sleep? Underneath my laptop stand.
As he was growing up, by the size of his paws you could see he would become a big cat
One day, after playing outside for one of the first times on his own, he brought home a toy he stole from somewhere around. We laughed so hard.
Before getting him, we said to each other: we don’t want the cat to be in our bedroom. He/she should sleep downstairs. The reality was though…
Growing up, he wouldn’t fit under my laptop stand anymore. But that didn’t mean he didn’t try…
He was the King in begging for extra food with Vittorio (and getting it), the King of sleeping in weird sleeping positions (I mean.. look at this)
He was like a baby to us, we poured all our love over him (whether he liked it or not). Often he would just sleep on the chair next to Vittorio, while he was working. During calls Vittorio would then caress him. Even though he was sleeping, he was still keeping you company.
Moving to Amsterdam
When we moved back to Amsterdam from Hamburg, we set it up in a way that would be the least stressful for him. Vittorio would take him by car while I would take the plane (we have a two-seater car, hehe). He behaved relatively well.
Once in Amsterdam, we had to stay in an apartment for a few nights until we got the keys to our new place. We bought Simba a leash so we could walk him on the rooftop terrace. Spoiler: he did not like that.
In our new apartment, we didn’t have a garden anymore. It made us sad for him, but we also said we wouldn’t live her for much longer than 3 years. After that, we would look for a house with garden and Simba could roam free again. But we tried letting him out on the leash near our house (it looks ridiculous, I know, but the things you do for your cat…)
He didn’t like being on the leash (of course, he’s a cat!) but it was all we could give him. That, and our balcony. We catproofed it by putting up a net, and blocking the spare space under the glass panels. So during the day, we could leave open the terrace door and he could sunbathe. Or chase flies and bugs, his favourite activity.
The day he turned 1 year old, we had a little photoshoot and gave him some extra treats. And a new box to play with 😉
He was an amazing cat to have. He made us laugh so often when he was playing, or running around like crazy. Or when he was begging for more food and standing on his back legs with his front paw reaching for Vittorio. We often told each other: look at him. Look how cute he is.
The last picture I took of him, was the afternoon before the accident. I was working, and he was sleeping behind me on the bed. He looks so peaceful. I can’t believe a few hours later this happened.
After work, I was sunbathing on the balcony. Simba was also outside, looking around by my feet. It was not unusual, he was out before on his own all the time. I dozed of a bit.
Suddenly, I heard a thud. My first thought was: Simba? So I looked around and didn’t see him. I jumped up and looked over the balcony through the net. Nothing. Ok, so he probably just went back inside, I told myself.
About 15 min later, I suddenly heard a quite loud and winey miaowing cat. I recognized it was Simba and again jumped up and looked over the balcony. There he was, sitting on the concrete a few meters lower. OMG! He must have jumped through the hole we assumed was impossible to do, but we don’t know.
Vittorio and me grabbed the door keys and ran down. Already some neighbours were there, wondering who’s cat this was. I carefully picked him up, afraid he might have broken something but at first sight that didn’t seem to be the case. He was conscious, but breathing in a very weird way. Almost grasping for breath. We took him back to our living room and crazily started looking for a veterinarian. We just live here 2 months, we didn’t have this set-up yet. But it was 18h, so all vets were just closed. I called the animal clinic and they told me I could come straight over.
15 min later I was there with Simba, and they immediately put him in an oxygen cage (a cage with much higher than normal oxygen levels, so he could breath better). They had to take X-rays but he was still too weak/stressed to do that, so we had to wait. I could go home, they would call me once they had news.
3,5 excruciating hours later, I couldn’t wait anymore and called the clinic myself if there was any news. The doctor was just about to call me, they said. It turned out Simba’s right lung had collapsed, and there was some free air in his chest and water on his lungs as well. They would now penetrate his chest with a needle and let the air out to relieve his breathing. The doctor told me the next 24h would be crucial because his condition could quickly get worse. He didn’t break anything, like his legs or jaw, it was only his lungs. They would call me back in the morning with more news.
At 2 in the morning my phone rang and we both instantly knew this was bad. “I’m really sorry to tell you this but Simba’s condition suddenly got much worse. He is having a lot of trouble breathing and is in a lot of distress. Frankly, he is dying and we think it would be best to euthanize him”. Still in shock of the news she was bringing, I only managed to say “yes, ok, we don’t want him to suffer”. Looking back now, I wish I asked more questions. Like what is causing this? Can’t he get surgery to save him? But that’s all water under the bridge now.
We cried our eyes out. Our tiger was gone. The most traumatizing to me was that during the phone call, I heard Simba miaowing heartbreakingly in the background. It sounded like a cry for help and I wonder if he was calling for us. The next morning, reality really hit us when we got up and his face was not there to greet us in the living room.
For the entire day we were either crying or completely numb. The house feels so quiet and empty without him. He was really like a child to us. Our baby, our coccolo. Luckily Vitto and me found comfort in each other. We both process the loss in the same way and understand each other.
Simba, we loved you so much. We really wanted to give you your forever home until you died of old age. To have our family expand, and have you be a part of it. To move to a house with a big garden again, so you could roam free and be the adventurous cat you are.
But like the expression goes, “curiosity killed the cat”. We don’t know if you wanted to chase the ducks in the canal or you tried to catch a mosquito and fell. We just wished we could have prevented it from happening.
Goodbye tiger, we hope there’s plenty of mice in cat heaven. ❤