Buster’s Final Story: My Favorite Cat Has Died

Buster was my favorite cat so far.

He died on February 22, 2024. We recused him from the yard on January 18, 2011.

He was at least 14, as he was not a kitten when we brought him inside. Read his rescue story here.

Writing the story of what happened when my cat died helps me process my grief. It’s okay if no one else ever reads this.

Anemia Problems

Buster had surgery in August 2023 for eye entropion. At the same time, he had another rotten tooth removed.

The pre-surgery bloodwork showed that Buster was slightly anemic. The vet thought it could have been from having a bad tooth for a while.

Buster probably had about half of his teeth, maybe more, removed throughout his life.

Buster struggled with recovering from the surgery. He didn’t eat much for a few days, and the tooth extraction area was infected.

Eventually, Buster recovered from the surgery. It was slow. He started to regain weight.

Another Incident

On November 1, 2023, I thought Buster was going to die. He was suddenly hiding from us and lethargic. He also put his mouth in the water dish but not drinking.

We took him to the vet. He had a high fever.

Bloodwork was done again, and he was still slightly anemic. His red blood count was still low but about the same as in August.

His lymphocytes were extremely high. The vet suspected that Buster had cancer.

The vet said, “Cats are tough,” and to not give up on him just yet. He gave him a steroid shot, explaining that we would know within a few days if it was going to help.

Buster responded almost immediately. Within a few hours, his fever was gone, and he was acting mostly normal by the next time.

Buster refused to take the anemia medicine. It’s in a liquid, so I could get it into his mouth. However, he would droll it out instead of swallowing it.

Buster Coughs Weird for 1 Night

At the end of December, Buster coughed a lot during the night. It seemed like he had phlegm stuck in his throat.

We had an appointment that next day for another cat’s annual check, so I took Buster along.

By the time of the appointment, Buster’s cough had disappeared.  However, Buster had gained some weight since the November appointment.

The vet reran bloodwork, and he was still anemic. However, the white blood cell count had returned to the high end of normal.

He was given another steroid shot.

Buster’s Final Week

On Sunday of the week that he died, I noticed Buster had a sore on his lip.

Another cat had their annual checkup on Tuesday, so I took Buster along.

The vet thought that Buster may have the start of stomatitis. He did not run bloodwork this time.

He was given an antibiotic and a steroid shot. His weight was still maintained.

On Tuesday morning, Buster seemed different at breakfast time. He was not eager for second breakfast like usual.

I justified it, thinking maybe he had a scuff with another cat and was avoiding them. However, I noticed he was hiding in the bathroom a bit later.

The bathroom was where he hid back in August following his surgery when he wasn’t feeling awful.

And then I noticed he was breathing heavily. His entire body and head were moving with each breath.

We called the vet, and they said to bring him in immediately.

Our regular vet was off that day. The vet who evaluated him hoped his new problem could be treated.

Sadly, the bloodwork showed that he was extremely anemic. The red blood count was on the very low end of low.

The vet explained that a blood transfusion could help, but only for a very short time, as his bone marrow couldn’t do something anymore. I don’t remember the exact details.

Buster’s breathing had declined further while waiting for the bloodwork results. He was clearly in a significant amount of distress.

The vet said the kindest thing to do would be to let him go. So that is what we did.

Buster, The Favorite Cat

Buster was my favorite cat as he was very loving towards me.

He was the cat that followed me around the most. He always seemed interested in what I was doing.

We rescued him a few months before my mother-in-law passed away unexpectedly.

We had two other cats at the time, Lina and Kilala. However, it was Buster who gave me the most emotional support. He laid with me, cuddled, and purred with me during that difficult time.

After rescuing Buster, we took in Violet, Jake, and Elwood three years later, taking us to six cats. A few years later, we took in Nacho, Taco, and Charlotte (they were rescued separately).

Buster was a favorite not only with my husband and me but with the other cats as well. He often cuddled with other cats on the couch or in a window seat.

All will greatly miss Buster. He was also the cat most often with me when making YouTube videos.

A collage with Buster, my favorite cat.
Photo Credit: Heidi Bender.

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Heidi Bender is the writer and founder of the Joy of Cats. She enjoys sharing cat information and providing helpful cat tips. She considers herself a cat lady and currently cares for eight cats.

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