Our indoor pet cat of eleven years has past away last week.
I hesitated a long while before writing about this. There are some people who are uncomfortable about discussions of death.
And there are some who don't consider pets to be family, much less something to be emotional over. There are cat people, and dog people, and people who hate them both... as well as spider-people, raccoon lovers... every stripe in between.
Our cat had been coughing and wheezing for a good while now. It was thought she was suffering from asthma.
So when we took the cat to the vet on early Saturday, he listened and pronounced her heart and lungs OK. The only problem was that she was purring so loudly from all the attention, he couldn't hear those sounds clearly. But the medicine was given with specific instructions to be mixed with chicken broth, and stored in the fridge in syringes. Two per day, and call him Tuesday if she didn't improve.
Unfortunately, the cat didn't want the medicine (which was to ease her breathing) and continued to lay around, flopping from side to side, and loudly sounding off at times. The kids became more and more concerned that she wasn't moving around much, let alone walking or running anywhere.
It became obvious that she wasn't eating, wasn't drinking, and wasn't grooming herself. I knew, from a prior black cat and my wife's experience raising cats as a child, that a cat that stops grooming is ill, and stopping eating is not a good sign. I attempted to prepare the kids that this was a bad sign, but life goes on, and other than doting on the cat, there wasn't much to do.
Unfortunately, it became apparent that she couldn't climb stairs, much less walk down the hall Sunday, and went steadily downhill after that.
My daughter moved the cat into a room off our master bedroom with a flat, cool floor, and the death watch began. By 1 a.m., their tears were flowing and the teens were taking turns watching and petting the cat for the final time.
My wife called the emergency vet line at 2 a.m. and he speculated that it might be an enlarged heart. We were to bring her in in the morning.
My son correctly observed, "She may not make it to morning" .
As the cat was loaded into the carrier, she briefly struggled, kicking a bit, and then lay still.
The Vet confirmed it, she was gone.
I cleaned up the house, disposing of food, water bowls, reminders of the cat, and prepared a nice grave in the flower bed. It was several hours before the kids awoke and learned of her passing.
But it's always hard to say goodbye to a family member. I'll miss her warm fur and companionship late at night when I get home.
But she'll still be alive in our memories.