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This is Harmon…..

September 14th, 2009 | 23 Comments »

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He’s 16 years old, and has been around since before my own child. I have a hard time remembering life before Harmon.

If you’ve never had a beloved pet, if you’ve never known the beauty of their unconditional love, you can stop reading and I won’t fault you. I’d rather you click away than try and understand.

Harmon will be having surgery today, Monday the 14th to remove a lesion from his lip. It started out looking like nothing more than a blemish on his chin, but it never healed and lately it’s gotten worse. The vet said that it just needs to come off, that certain cancers manifest themselves in this manner and a pathology test will determine once and for all what it really is.


Sixteen years ago I was walking through the rescue shelter, gazing in the cages at all manners of cats. The cages stood three high, and they were all filled. Suddenly I felt something grab my leg from the middle cage near where I was standing, and I bent over to look in. This adorable orange furry face gazed back at me, and reached a huge fluffy paw towards me again. Here was a 4-month old kitten that was enormous, with an equally huge fluffy tail. I got him out of his cage and took him into a small room where you could ‘get acquainted’. This fuzzball of a cat started purring like he’d eaten a jet engine. He literally vibrated from head to tail as he purred and rubbed his chin endlessly on me. With one desperate gaze from his golden eyes, I fell in love and took him home. I was besotted, a complete goner. I was chosen, picked by the cat instead of the other way around. Someone must have known just exactly what I needed.

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And then a vet says ‘Cancer’ and suddenly I can’t even sleep. And it could be nothing worse than a clogged pore, but all I can think about is what life might be like without that purr, those golden eyes and the gentle love he’s always given me. This has been the finest cat I’ve known. He’s always willing to offer a snuggle, he breaks into his trademark purr if I even look at him and say his name, and no matter what I’ve done, where I’ve lived, what I’ve gone through- which have been some extremely dark times- he’s been right there, settling in against my leg, curling his claws in contentment when I scratch his ears and being steadfast and constant throughout it all.
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He’s my sunshine fiend. One ray of sunshine in the house, and he’ll find it.

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But he’s 16. Climbing the stairs is hard, and getting on the bed is harder. He sleeps way more than our other cat. He seems shaky and stiff on occasion, but once in a while he kicks up his heels and runs around like a kitten, batting at a toy or chasing an invisible target. But he is old, and there is fear in me. I know that keeping pets in your life opens up the possibility of enormous heartbreak; I’ve been down that road already, owning pets since I was 10 years old. I’m aware of how much it can hurt.

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Cancer. Pathology. Fear.

I’m trying to think of positive outcomes, but quite frankly it’s difficult, if not impossible. Inevitably, if it isn’t this it will be something else and I’ll have to face it then so I run the movie in my head of what it will be like to say goodbye to him, to wake up and come down my stairs and not hear his loud chirp of greeting, and see the way he runs straight to the cabinet that holds the cat treats even though he knows that he has to wait. To watch TV without him contentedly purring in my lap. To see how he drags himself from a deep sleep when someone is in the kitchen because he just has to come in and check to make sure we haven’t dropped a lovely tidbit he could eat.

What will it be like to eat dinner and not have him pawing us?

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Will Spring be the same without an adorable shaved cat in the house?

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My heart can barely handle these questions now.

23 responses to “This is Harmon…..”

  1. omg – i’m almost in tears!!!!! i have a cat who is 18 (still living w/ my parents) and every day i wonder when i will get the call from my mom or dad. heartbreaking. harmon sounds like a wonderful (and well fed/beautiful and, may i say, very young looking!) girl. i just saw the other post post-op and i’m hoping things are looking ok for now. good luck – thinking of you and harmon!

  2. Astrid says:

    OMG Kate I am so behind with reading blogs I just saw your post. I am glad though that Harmon made it through the surgery and is well again.

    Yesterday I noticed that Othello seems to have the same that you describe at Harmon on his chin and I was thinking (and hoping) it might not be anything to worry about. Planned to take him to the VET in a few weeks anyway for his annual shots.

    Now I think I’d better go earlier… He’ll be ten this year and I have been worrying over his condition every now and then lately. He seems to have gotten quite “old” compared to his older brother that is….

    Lots of hugs to you!

  3. Balisha says:

    I hope your Harmon is going to be OK. Sending my prayers up for this lovable pet of yours.

    ((Hugs)) Balisha

  4. Tiki & Kesey says:

    Just checking in. We hope that you and Harmon are both okay. Sending you loud purrs and soft woofs.

  5. Everycat says:

    What a grand old fella Harmon is. Thank you for sharing his story with us. Our Mum knows this type of worry. Angel our older sister (19) had a lump removed from her lip this year, of course cancer was the first thing the vet said it could be, but after an agonising wait for the pathology lab report (5 days) the lump turned out to be an inflamatory response from a zit gone crazy.

    We send you and Harmon rumbly purrs, and many more years together.

    Whicky Wuudler

  6. Karen Jo says:

    I hope that all goes well with Harmon’s surgery. Try to remember that all the years of unconditional love will outweigh the heartbreak of parting when it comes. I do hope that it won’t come for years yet.

  7. KC says:

    Jus checking in to see how Harmon is, pleeze keep us posted.
    Love & Purrs,

  8. Our beloved bulldog was nearly 12 years old (ancient for bullies) when he passed away. My husband was crushed but we were both comforted to know that he loved us unconditionally and had a good life. Just a 3 months after he passed, we brought home a new Boxer puppy (the goofball that serves as my avatar) who is soooo different from our sourmug, so that it’s clear he was not a replacement.

    Wishing all the best for Harmon and for you. We love our pets tremendously and they love and have loved us without condition. Remember that . . .

  9. The Meezers says:

    we was just checking back to see how harmon is doing

  10. katessisterkris says:

    Oh Harmon!! Such a handsome boy!

    I am thinking positive thoughts Katiekins.
    Love to you both….

  11. We send warm purrs and tail wags for Harmon’s surgery to have a positive outcome for both of you.

  12. Parker says:

    We hope it isn’t the C word and our Mom knows exactly what you have written about.
    Prayers to you and to Harmon.

  13. We’re purring and purraying for Harmon. We hope everything turns out okay.

    Sniffie and the Florida Furkids

  14. We are purring very hard for Harmon and hope that the outcome is good. He is a handsome boy!

  15. Doniree says:

    My Roxy picked me too 🙂 She was playful, a little bitchy, but wouldn’t leave me alone. I had initially seen one of her siblings first, but she definitely picked me.

    And these are tough questions, and hard ones to even think about. Roxy’s only 6, but the thought of losing her is extremely emotional.

    Thoughts are with you, Kate. Good luck to your orange fluffball!

  16. HotMBC says:

    Oh we will send lotsa lotsa purrs for Harmon n for yore werries.
    Alla Us Hotties

  17. We are sending purrs to you and Harmon that there is a good result of his surgery.

  18. The Meezers says:

    Oh MomKate, we knows how hard it is. We are sending rumbly purrrsss to Harmon, and you too. We are praying for a good outcome.

  19. […] Harmon is having surgery today and Kate is very worried. Could you please send some purrs their way? ~Tiki & Kesey […]

  20. KC says:

    I’s be posting this on tha Cat Blogosphere, fanks to Tiki & Kesey letting us know.
    We be purring and purraying fur gorgeous Harmon.
    Missy Blue Eyes
    Faith Boomerang
    and Mommy ML

  21. Tiki & Kesey says:

    We hadn’t been blogging much either, but have found that the cat blogosphere to be helpful during difficult times.

  22. Tiki & Kesey says:

    We are hoping and purraying it is not cancer. Sending you purrs and soft woofs.

  23. Kristen says:

    Oh Kate – I am so sorry. I lost my 16 year old cat to kidney failure 5 years ago and have not been able to open myself up to having a pet again since. Losing her was terribly hard.
    Our stories of how we met are very similar. Miss Kitty (mind you, I was young when I got her, hence the name) reached out from her cage and kept grabbing my arm. I wasn’t planning on getting a cat that day, but she stole my heart!

    I’m praying for Harmon, dear… and for you! I hope that it is the clogged duct and not something more serious. He needs to be around to purr you to sleep!