To anyone who has ever had to make the decision to put an animal to sleep (and seriously, couldn’t someone have come up with a better term?), you have my heartfelt empathy.
The rationale makes sense. It’s humane to spare them suffering. We spare them suffering because they can’t talk. They can’t tell us how bad they really feel. On the other side of that shit coin is they can’t tell us how UN-BAD they really feel. So in addition to the heartwrenching grief of losing your beloved furry friend, you also get to wrestle with the guilt.
It just seems like it went so fast. Did we panic and make the decision too quickly? I know he wasn’t going to get better but maybe he would have rallied a bit and been around longer. This is all in hindsight, of course, because the thought process before was “holy crap, what if we wait too long?” So there’s never a right time. I have been told that “you’ll just know” but to be frank, that’s a bunch of crap. You don’t know. You guess. You question every meow, every look, every action wondering “is he trying to tell me something?”
My mom and I loved that little (big) guy so much. Our worlds are a little emptier today and it sucks. I thought I remembered how much it hurt when we had to make the decision with Jager but I think my brain blocked out the true depth of the soul-destroying numbness I felt. I appreciate that, brain. This is not a feeling I can carry around on a day to day basis.
Here’s something nice to end this horribly depressing blog… my mom and I drove around all day because we didn’t know what else to do. When we got back to her house, I was petting Little, Fatty’s anti-social lil bro, while looking out the front window. What I saw, lazing on her front walkway, was a very comfortable all-black cat. He was by no means Fatty, but it’s rare to see a stray in her neighborhood at all, let alone a black minion laying in her yard like he owns the place. We just watched him for awhile, and then he got up, looked at me, trotted towards the window, then under it and out of sight. My mom’s friend told her Fatty would send a message that we did the right thing. I am not the kind of person who believes in signs. But I am taking this as the kitty world telling us we did the right thing. And while it barely makes a dent in the hurt, it is a comfort.
RIP Chaos (yeah, that was his real name until we discovered his love of food, no one has called him that in probably 16 years)/Big Guy/Fatty
Even if it results in my contracting malaria or some other nature-related death. At some point I enjoyed the outside world, and to an extent, I still do. I love going the beach. I love soaking up the sun. I greatly appreciate varieties of foliage and the carbon-reducing part they play in this world of ours. The greenery I appreciate from afar. One, I don’t want to kill it, as my black thumb is wont to do. Two, there are bugs and animals and THINGS in there.
So today, as I took my shift as cat-watcher while Fatty sat contentedly amongst the vast foliage my mom has decorating her lawn (she is a firm believer in foliage), I was eaten alive by mosquitoes, had a minor heart attack when a snake slithered out suddenly in my direction and very close to me (to be clear, I am not afraid of snakes, and having lived in FL my whole life, I know what black racers look like and that they are not harmless and that they are more scared of me than I am of them, but having one appear suddenly when you are not expecting them…), dodged bees flitting about collecting nectar (I AM afraid of bees, though…I will make every effort not to kill one as I know they are much more helpful to the world than they are harmful but I do not extend the same courtesy to wasps, also, there was a giant super-sized bee that apparently is a bumblebee but in 33 years of life I have never seen one), witnessed some weird leaf bug and admired (from afar) giant caterpillar.
Fatty minds none of this. He just settles himself amongst it all and gets cozy. He’s happy there. My discomfort is worth that. I certainly wouldn’t brave that for a human.
My mom and I took Fatty to my vet yesterday, because I love my vet for very important reasons. She never acts as if wanting to have all the information is annoying, she explains everything, she gives options, and she really spends the time with you. She is a great cat vet but even better as a cat mom counselor. We didn’t really know what to expect with Fatty’s cancer diagnosis.
Now we know. She found a mass, so it’s progressing pretty quickly. We have a questionnaire to help us figure out when is the right time, before he suffers. It’s going to be a lot earlier than we thought.
So he is getting everything his little heart desires. Tuna, trips outside, KFC.
Why would a cat that’s spent 17 years inside have any desire to go outside? LEMME TELL YA. When he was younger (and when I was, too), his favorite thing in the world and my LEAST favorite thing in the world was to haul ass out the front door at 5am when I opened it to get the paper, sans shoes or glasses. Yeah, I got to chase after him barefoot and blind, around the house into the backyard, where he would suddenly stop, reverse course and haul ass back the way he came and into the house. Super fun. I especially enjoyed stepping on slugs. At 5am. He’s been too fat and old to pull that kinda crap for quite awhile, but it seems his affinity for outside still stands. My mom took him out and let him roam today.
He’s not running anymore, he just sits down and watches things go on. When I visited earlier today, he nestled himself under a cabana of elephant ear leaves (I have no idea what plant it was, I’m sure my mom will give me an earful about why I should know, whatever it is, it’s Florida native because that’s all my mom will plant).
What Fatty wants, Fatty gets.
I started this blog years ago when I was sitting with my sick “firstborn” (he wasn’t my first cat ever, but he is the first that I alone chose at the age of 16). He recovered, as he always did, from the anemia that time, the pancreatitis before, the blocked urinary tract before that. Now here I sit again with my firstborn on my lap, my baby, my chunkalunk, the one I cried over for weeks when I moved out of my mom’s house. But this time there’s no recovery. His birthday is a day before mine, March 1st. He just turned 17. And he went from feeling a bit bonier than usual on Monday to a cancer diagnosis on Wednesday. These little a-holes hide everything until it’s really bad. His normal girth didn’t change, apparently because it’s not filled with fluid, and didn’t even have any interest in the one true love of his life – food. So I’m here visiting, as I will do every day that I can until he tells us it’s time.
I know 17 is a long life for a cat, but I suppose somehow I expected him to be around forever. It’s life, I know, but when he’s sitting here on my lap (which was a rare privilege for him to bestow before), my heart breaks. It feels more like he’s trying to comfort ME. When my legs go numb eventually and I am going to have to move him off my lap, he will fight to get back on it. He’s just sitting and purring and occasionally looking up at me with his big eyes and his fu manchu whiskers (both reasons I fell in love with him at the shelter in the first place).
This is the life of an animal parent, we take on these furry babies and hopefully give them the best life they can have knowing fully that we will, almost certainly, outlive them.
I apologize for being a downer. A blog about a dying kitty (especially after so many months of not posting anything) is not exactly uplifting material. But, well, this blog is about being a crazy cat lady, and crazy cat ladies all have to deal with this at some point.
So many things have changed since I was 16, but Fatty has always been my kitty. This sucks.