Trigger Warning: If you’ve recently lost a pet, are grieving, and would rather skip the details of the last day of a sick, old, and dying cat, you might want to skip this post. If you want to read a tribute to my cat Hunter instead, read my blog from Monday, October 6th.
When I woke up yesterday, my husband told me that there was something wrong with my beloved 18 year old cat, Hunter. Mark had given him his medication and his subcutaneous fluids. Hunter didn’t move much, nor did he eat more than a nibble of his treats. Hunter did not come at all when food was put out.
I saw Hunter sitting uncomfortably by the water bowl. He moved away, and his back legs stumbled. You could tell he was in pain just by looking at him. When you can see that, you know it’s bad.
Hunter climbed into a chair where he likes to sleep, but he couldn’t quite rest comfortably. He moved slowly and did not lie down all the way. I decided to call the emergency line at my vet’s. I heard from my vet about 15 minutes later. She was already going into the office, so she said to meet her there.
Hunter looked so ill that I began crying. I went downstairs and told my mother to come up and visit Hunter because he was very sick. She was alarmed at how he looked and cried with me.
After getting some coffee, Mark and I drove Hunter to the vet. A physical exam indicated fluid in his stomach. The vet took some out and showed us the foam at the top, which indicated a severe protein deficiency. We considered draining his stomach, but the vet said it would probably fill right back up. We could take him to a specialist for it, but testing would cost at least a thousand dollars without giving us any real hope of him getting better.
Given his poor prognosis and that Hunter was excruciating pain, we decided it was time to say good-bye to Hunter and asked to have him euthanized.
I have loved animals all my life, especially cats. After you spend 18 years doing everything you can to keep your pet happy and healthy, telling a vet that now is the time to end your pet’s life is nauseating. I hate the very idea of it.
But what are my options? Hunter was already in a lot of pain, and my vet said that he could die at any moment. I do not really feel there are any good options when you come to a point like this.
I called my mother to let her know what we were doing. I could only understand half of what she said through her crying. Since we moved down to New York, Hunter has been a constant companion to her. After she started to give him treats, my mother was Hunter’s queen. He would get on his hind legs and tap my mother’s arm to let her know he wanted food. Other times, he would grab her arm and pull it towards him. Or he would meow, which was more like a cute little grunt than a meow.
Hunter had the cutest little face, the most intense stare, and the softest fur you would ever touch. He used to flop over in my lap so I could scratch his belly. I’ve spent 45 minutes, an hour just petting that cat’s belly at least a couple of times a week since I got him. More recently, he did it only occasionally because he was no longer comfortable laying on his side. I think the last time that we did this was in the last couple of weeks, but it wasn’t for more than 5 minutes before Hunter had to move.
So now our home and our hearts are emptier. Yesterday was three years ago that I first met Gwendolyn, and today is three years that I brought her home. Life is like that. Sometimes you mourn and celebrate on the same day.
When you have them from when they are kittens, like I have with Hunter and Gwenny, they really do think you are their mother. That parent/child bond can exist between you and a being of another species. Hunter was an especially sweet and affectionate cat. He could not get enough of whatever attention that you wanted to give him.
I will miss his snuggling, his belly, his fur, his tail. I used to gently hold it and tell him it was my tail. If he was in my lap, I would lay it against my chest and pet his tail. He would let it stay there. So soft!
Some people claim that you cannot love an animal and that animals cannot love you back, that it is only attachment. To them I say, go to hell. I loved my cat, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he loved me back. Sometimes, the final way that you can show them your love is to recognize when it’s time to end their lives. It’s just so painful and goes.
When Hunter was euthanized, he was surrounded by me, Mark, a vet tech, and the vet who had cared for him this past year. She thought he was a great cat, too, even though his pain meant he growled when he received the physical exam or was put on the scale.
After Hunter died, I pet him for a little while, gave him kisses, told him how much I love him, and how much I was going to miss him. I feel like someone shot a cannonball through the place where my heart and lungs used to be. The house feels empty, even though I still have two kitty babies in my life.
Each living soul is different from another. Getting or having another pet doesn’t make the grief less or the grieving easier. Even though it’s painful, I will open my heart and home to cats who need homes as long as I possibly can. The only thing worse than having to put your beloved cat down is having an empty house.
Bless you, my baby Hunter. I hope your journey over the Rainbow Bridge was a good one. If there’s an afterlife, I hope to see you again. Find us a comfy chair where I can sit down and rub your belly for as long as you want.