Thursday was a hard day, as we lost a friend who had been with us for 13 years. In fact, she had been with my wife even longer than that.
We had to put Miss Kittycat to sleep, one of the hardest things we've had to do in a long while.
She had been my wife's companion for 5 years when I joined the family. Five years of love, even if it was, at times, cranky love. When I came along, she passed that love on to me as well. She seemed very content to have multiple people around, hardly ever alone unless our schedules dictated that we be gone at the same time. But even when that was the case, she knew that she would soon have at least one of us again. Until that time, it was best just to sleep.
She was a small cat, always had been. But to us, she was just the right size. She only looked small when you held her up against another cat. She was easy to pick up, no matter how much she hated that. For years, she tolerated it, but you could tell she didn't want to be held. She was quite unusual in that way. She was definitely not a lap cat.
But that was fine. We took what she gave us and she took what we gave her. Which was treats. She was definitely a treat-hound. In fact, she would work it quite hard at times. She would stand on her little house and just stare at you for a while. It became part of the daily routine. I'd do my morning routine of bathroom stuff: shave, shower, etc. As I moved about our home in the morning, she would stay asleep, or sometimes she would be wandering around. But as soon as I came out of the bathroom after my shower (and only after my shower, not if I came out before), there she was, sitting and staring. "Ok, it's time now," she would probably be saying if she could talk. It's like the sound of the shower going off was her signal.
When I say above that she shared her love with me, it's definitely true. But it wasn't the same as what she gave my wife. My wife was the one who rescued her from the shelter, all those years ago. My wife was her "person," the one who had been with her through thick and thin. In the later years, when we had to shut her out of our bedroom, she would sometimes howl when I was in there. But she would really howl when my wife was. (It wasn't a constant howl, but she would do it in short bursts for a little while before finally giving up and going to sleep) When I sat on the couch, she would come to me for attention, but would head off after a short while. But when my wife sat on the couch, she was relentless.
The last two or three years were hard ones. She developed urinary issues that, it turned out, were behavioral. She would pee on the bed, so we had to shut her out of the bedroom. We think she began suffering from some form of kitty dementia, as her symptoms matched almost perfectly with what was found on the web. Among other things, an obsession with soft things to pee on. It got to the point that we had three litter boxes in the living room and no rugs on the floor, because while the peeing was an issue, we couldn't bring ourselves to put her down. She was too special of a cat, and she was worth adjusting our lives around. She was otherwise healthy, if a bit old and running down. She wasn't as energetic as she used to be, occasionally had trouble jumping up on things that she didn't before.
We wanted her to live out her natural life, and if it inconvenienced us a little bit, so what?
Sadly, Thursday night I came home from work (ironically having just bought two bags of cat litter) and discovered that she was having trouble walking. One of her back legs was, while not paralyzed, extremely weak. Every step she took, she would collapse a little bit. She couldn't jump at all anymore (though she did try once). She retreated to her little house and lay in there for a little bit. I put some treats in front of her, which she quickly gobbled up, and then called my wife. When she called me back, we discussed things and I called the vet.
It was 4:50pm, and the vet's office closed at 6:00. We had gone in a couple of weeks ago to have the cat looked at and discuss quality of life issues. I explained who I was and what I had come home to, and their first words after I finished were "did you want to bring her in tonight?"
Before I go any further, I just want to say how wonderful the people at Arbutus West Animal Clinic, on 16th & McDonald here in Vancouver, are. I'm going to do a separate post on them next week, because they deserve a post of their own, but they are awesome. They knew that taking us that night would have them there after they closed, but they didn't care. All of the people there were so kind to us, throughout everything.
I hustled the cat into her carrier, and the fact that she barely resisted and only let a few howls out just reinforced that we were making the right decision. I picked my wife up and we drove to the vet.
Thirty minutes later, it was over. We'd been with her the entire way. It was hard to say good-bye, but it was for the best. Every day for the last three years, we had kept re-evaluating our decision to keep her around . Every time, the decision was the same: yes, she's worth it, no matter how many accommodations we had to make.
She took that decision out of our hands finally.
It's very quiet around here now. No more howling. We don't have the bedroom door closed any more. There are no more litter boxes in the living room. We're not constantly stepping on pieces of litter that she took with her when she stepped out of the box. A couple of days later, I'm still looking for her when I walk out of the bedroom.
That will pass, in time. I know it will.
Thank you for the many years of companionship, Miss Kittycat. And thank you for taking care of my wife until I came along.
You will be missed.