Our cat, Mick, wasn’t doing well. He was old. Somewhere between 15 and 20 years old. (We don’t know for sure because he had several owners before Tim.) He was blind, he was down to skin and bones (maybe 4 pounds soaking wet), and this weekend, he could no longer jump on the couch.
Last night, when I got home from a church meeting, Emma told me Mick was worse. He wasn’t moving much, wasn’t eating, he had a pretty serious eye infection, and to be honest, he didn’t really look like the same cat as before…it was like he had already started to cross over. So I planned to take him to the vet first thing in the morning.
Except that when I woke up, I couldn’t find him. We looked everywhere (actually, I looked everywhere. Emma refused to look under the beds.) I finally saw his big fluffy tail sticking out from under the shelving in the utility closet in the basement. Not moving. Not responding to his name.
This presented me with a dilemma. I didn’t want to leave him there to die if he wasn’t already dead. I owed him more than that. If he wasn’t already dead, I wanted to hold him while he died. But I really, really, really didn’t want to pick him up if he was already dead. Eeewww. So I started pacing. And making phone calls for moral support, hoping that someone would say something that would give me the nerve to pick him up. And that helped, but I still couldn’t pick up the cat. Then I went to get Stephanie for moral support, but she was as scared and skeeved out as I was.
So then I did what any strong, independent woman would do. I went around the neighborhood to see if I could find a man who was willing to pick up a potentially dead cat to see if it was actually dead. Unfortunately, no one was home. Not Tom or Matt or Joe. But luckily, one of my neighbor’s lawn service guys overheard me talking and offered to help me. (Thank you, lawn service guy whose name I don’t even know. He didn’t actually have to pick up the cat, because as we were walking down to the basement, Mick moved, so I knew he was alive.)
It turns out he wasn’t dead. But he was close. He was barely breathing. He wasn’t moving much.
So I drove to the closest animal hospital that was open. (Not our regular vet.) The receptionist was so kind. I told her that it was Mick’s time and she explained to me what would happen.
Then the vet came in and this is where the experience took a bad turn. She cheerily asked me when the last time was that he had blood work. I’m sorry…was this a date I was supposed to remember? And she said, you know, maybe he has something treatable. We could do blood work to find out. To which I said, no thanks, I know that this is the right thing to do. It’s time.
And then. And then she rolled her eyes and sighed a loud sigh. Yes, she did. And then she thrust a piece of paper at me and said in an exasperated tone of voice, “Okay, then, sign this.” And I wanted to yell at her….please tell me you didn’t just do the eye roll thing. As if. As if I woke up this morning, and said, you know, this cat is really a nuisance. I think I’ll kill it today.
To be f air, she was much more compassionate and kind when she came back in the room to give him the shot. I don’t know why. Maybe she hadn’t actually seen him and the condition he was in before she suggested the blood work. Maybe she got over herself. I don’t really know. I was ready to give her a piece of my mind if she still had the attitude, but it wasn’t necessary.
So here’s my question….at what point did the expectation become that we’re supposed to go to extreme measures to prolong the life of a dying pet? And at what point did someone decide that any pet owner not willing to do this is cruel and heartless? I don’t think it makes me a bad person because I wasn’t willing to do blood work on a cat that was clearly dying, and had, in fact, gone off to die in a place where I had trouble finding him. I know that I did the right thing. But did I really need a guilt trip from a young, holier-than-thou vet at that very moment?
My lasting memory of Mick will be of him sprawled across my abdomen as I was lying on the couch, when I was very pregnant with David. Mick was incubating me. (I have no memory of him doing this when I was pregnant with Margaret. I think I was too busy to lie down.)
He loved soft, comfy blankets, and human companionship. His favorite place to hang out was next to a warm radiator. He loved us and we loved him.
And we will miss him very much.