Wednesday night I had to euthanize my sixteen year old cat, who’s been with me during the last fourteen years. It was a rainy fall day, all day. I’d called in to work to take a personal day because I knew I needed to take her to a vet. Her kidneys were shutting down. She’d not eaten or drank in a couple of days, and was isolating. It was a brutal day and I don’t even want to write about it, but I have to.
Bargaining: Maybe things would be different with a different veterinarian. It had come on kind of suddenly. Maybe she’d spontaneously recover. She’d been under the weather and had come back before. There was bad news in the morning at the closest vet option and I got a “Band Aid” fix for the cat – subcutaneous fluids underneath the skin, creating a hump under her back.
I fed her leftover cat medication that had successfully healed her the last time she had something wrong, which was back in June.
At the day’s end, she died in my arms, surrendering to the process as I repeatedly told her that I loved her and how glad I was that I had adopted her.
Before that, I’d scheduled multiple veterinary appointments in spots around both Long Island and Brooklyn…and ended up in the same place I’d started. I think I even walked out of the one without even paying for the consultation. (I’d forgotten about protocol. I was reminded when I got that bill today.) I just wanted to buy enough time to keep her alive overnight so that I could then bring her to the “best” vet. Then I accepted her eventual death but I thought that I’d let her die at home, as she always hated vets. That would bring me more time. “What should I do?” I asked her, “when the time comes?” She replied that “Today should be the day.” It sank in, I broke down, called my mother from the bathroom, cried, and pulled myself together for the End.
In context, the veterinarian seemed like the Angel of Death. (To be fair, she’d hadn’t appeared that way to me in 2012 when she’d helped the cat with a claw issue and healed her.) I had wanted nothing to do with her or the news that she’d brought me. But I grasped the reality of the situation and realized that her job wasn’t easy either.
At closing time, she told me that it wasn’t going to be peaceful if I did nothing. She told me that the cat would suffer seizures and headaches if I did nothing. She explained about the kidneys, which I already knew, but I thought that I could get her well on some antibiotics or another medication. She’d beaten a kidney infection before, or so I thought. She’d come through something in June and recovered.
However, this time it wasn’t to be. It was a day of having emotional breakdowns and crying in front of strangers, hoping that I wasn’t being perceived as a nuisance. It was a day of taking unchartered journeys with my dying cat in my car, asking for help from strangers that wouldn’t roll down their windows, not sure I’d make it in time, and racing against time, praying I didn’t get into an accident.
She was at peace at the end and I stayed with her. I don’t know if you are inclined towards supernatural beliefs, but I believe she’s in heaven now, looking out for me and that I’ll see her again someday.
Rest in peace, Mojave (1998-2014).