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Just a Cat

My cat died.

Here’s my story.  She was nineteen years old and has been slowing down for the last couple years.  One night after dinner, her back legs collapsed.  She had previously had some trouble in her back legs, one would assume arthritis.  But on this night, she didn’t regain control.  A quick Google search prepared me for the worst.  The next morning, I begged off work and took her to the vet where an enormously expensive series of tests confirmed what I suspected.  She was in kidney failure, and there was nothing more to do.  I made the decision to put her to sleep right then.  You see, she never gained any control of her legs, and the tests confirmed that she was also dehydrated and feeling pretty rotten.  So as much as it hurt to make that tough call, my heart could not tolerate leaving her to suffer.

Long story short, my cat died.  I petted her and talked to her until she stopped breathing.  I made arrangements for her cremation.  Then I went home to drop off my sad, empty cat carrier and fix my mascara and then I went to work.

Let me be clear.  I didn’t want to go to work.  I wanted to sit down by myself and cry, mourn and grieve for my loss.  I wanted to sit still and remember all the sweet moments with this little creature who shared nearly half of my life with me.  Who slept beside me every single night.  Who walked on my neck to wake me up if I slept too late.  Who instinctively knew when I was sad and comforted me better than any human I’ve ever known.

But that’s frowned upon in this society.  If a person died, no one would question me taking a couple of days off work.  There’s even a corporate policy for that.  I’m sorry to say that I don’t love most people half as much as I loved that cat, but society places an awfully low value on the relationships we have with our pets.  My life has not been the same since I lost her.  I don’t sleep well.  I keep thinking I see her sleeping on my bed.  Every time I open the pantry, I see the leftover cans of soft food we gave her when she started to lose weight.  I miss her so awfully that even thinking about it brings me to tears these weeks later.  And I don’t mean silent weeping.  I mean the kind of soul-shaking ugly cry that you normally only see on hospital dramas.  But I feel foolish.  Because she was just a cat, right?  Cats die all the time.  And it’s true.  I’ve lost two other cats previously, and that wasn’t easy, either.  But.  She was nineteen.  I rescued her when she was found on the side of the road at four weeks old, sick and abandoned.  She was my companion for all of her life and half of mine.  And now she’s just gone.

I miss her terribly and I suspect that I will continue to miss her for a very long time.  Even though she was just a cat.  Just a cat who tried to sleep on my throat every night.  Who snuggled into my arms like a human baby.  Who stole the occasional tuna snack from the other cats.  Who loved me most and best for all of her life.  Who came into my life when I was barely into my twenties and newly married and traveled my journey by my side until I was old enough to have a kid driving.  Who outlived two other cats and tolerated two others, plus an obnoxious dog.  Who gave my children dirty looks for all of her life because she had seniority.  Who I could always count on to be by my side, no matter the circumstances.

Those of us who love pets will, at some time, have to say goodbye to them.  And we have to mourn quietly, because they were only animals and most people won’t understand our grief.  Anyone would understand the horrific pain if we lost a friend of nineteen years, but they expect me to be fine now.  Because she was just a cat.

What they don’t understand is that I just lost a friend of nineteen years.

squeakysleep

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Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , ,
  1. September 27, 2015 at 4:28 am

    I am so sorry for your loss. No creature is ‘just’ an anything if they love and are loved in return.

  2. October 10, 2015 at 1:25 am

    I do understand … it is like losing a family member, and the grief can be quite raw for some time. What a wonderfully long life full of live she certainly had with you! So sorry.

    • October 10, 2015 at 9:06 am

      Thank you. She was indeed a part of the family. I was fortunate to have her for so long.

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