We had to euthanize my cat, Lily, yesterday. It was the right thing to do. We’d found out a couple months back that she had cancer, and unfortunately we couldn’t afford surgery to remove the tumor. So the tumor grew, and Lily shrank, until her belly was gone and you could feel her vertebrae when you pet her. She walked unsteadily, climbed carefully, and lost a lot of the fire she’d had when she was healthy. No more picking fights with the other cats, just… sleeping and cuddling.
This might have all been okay, if not for the fact that she was only seven years old.
We have two senior cats: Norman is 15 or 16, and Smokey (who due to her anxiety lives in my room with me) is about 14. It’s funny, because I would have been almost okay with this happening to either of them. It would have been understandable if one of the older cats had gotten sick and enfeebled. But no. It was the middle-aged cat, and it was just so goddamn unfair.
We knew pretty much from the diagnosis that euthanasia was going to be the end for Lily. As she got sicker, the death date drew ever closer. Last week we were saying it would probably be this week. And even just a couple days ago, we were saying it would be this week. And then yesterday it was sort of decided: it was going to be yesterday. And I was… okay with it, almost. I tend to be unfeeling and strange when it comes to death. The last two pets we had to say goodbye to were elderly and sick, and I didn’t cry when they went to the vet for the last time.
But Lily was different. We got her as a kitten on May 19th, 2010, I think? I would have to check my journals for the exact date, but that seems right. I was still in university, having just finished my first year away. The daughter of one of Mom’s coworkers had a cat who had just had kittens, and we had put one of our much older cats to sleep several months before. Mom wanted another cat, because we only had two at the time. So the daughter brought the kittens to the office after work one day (I worked in the same office, scanning papers), and we picked out Lily.
She was sweet and playful. She hit it off with Norman right away, but unfortunately did not get along with Smokey, who wanted to be left alone when Lily wanted to play. But she was a nice cat. She grew into a large, beautiful kitty. She didn’t really like being picked up or handled very much, and hardly ever purred for us humans, but she did sometimes purr for me. Her fur was soft as anything, and on her belly was a gorgeous patch of fluffy orange fur.
She was a good cat, for all that she was something of a bully (she was much larger than Smokey, and when we took in a litter of feral kittens, she turned up bigger than them as well). I loved her. I thought she was sweet, when she wanted to be, and isn’t that always the way with cats?
So finding out she had cancer was a blow. And realizing, yesterday, that I would never see her again, never coax her into purring, never give her the chin scritches she loved so well… hurt. I cried a lot. Sending her with my dad to the vet hurt, and I went from having an okay day to being miserable because I had lost a friend.
I’m doing better today. I’m probably going to talk about this in therapy next week. I have to remember not to let this ruin my week. But it hurts. It hurts in an awful way, and I just wish I knew what to do with all this pain.
I know we did the right thing, but it still hurts, and it’s still unfair and awful.
I’ll get through it. Maybe in a few years, after our seniors have passed on, we’ll get another cat (we have five–Norman and Smokey, and three of the kittens we rescued). But for now, it hurts, and I just wish I knew what to do.
May you rest in peace