Today was just a fucking shit day. I have no better words for it.
Today, I brought my cat to the vet, and I asked them to end her life.
It’s not easy taking the life or death decision for an animal that has been your loyal companion for 15 years. When I was 20, I thought it was funny to name my cat Loser, because of the L shaped mark on her face. I kinda liked the name. It certainly brought a more positive twist to the term Loser.
Loser was with me longer than I’ve been together with my wife. I picked her up from a farm when she was six weeks old, early in 2007, and we shared my student room from the first year I spent in university. Fifteen years is a long time. She got pregnant when she was about 1.5 years old, and gave birth to four beautiful babies. We moved places together seven times. She’s one of the very few things that always stayed, wherever we went.
Over the years, Loser developed signs of getting older. She also had an unstoppable appetite, and regardless of a strict diet, she somehow always seemed to be able to steal food from her daughter’s tray, no matter how hard we tried to avoid it. Being old and slightly obese is not a great combination. The last six to twelve months were difficult. She started using the litter box more often than was healthy, and would regularly leave her liquids in other places. About four months ago, the behavior reached a point where we had her fully checked by the vet. X-rays and Ct scans, as well as blood tests pointed out that she was obese, but otherwise good. The bladder was a bit enlarged, but nothing worrisome. Her urine came back clean as well. The vet gave us a load of medications, all of which we tried. None of them worked. Sometimes things were stable for a week or so, but then the symptoms came back and sometimes worsened. Our vet determined that this was a psychosomatic condition, probably triggered by the stress of having a young kid around. We decided we would give it another month, or take it as far as we would find acceptable without heavy-duty medication.
Then we got a second baby.
For a while, remarkably, things seemed to stabilize. Maybe it helped that our toddler went to day care. During my parental leave we also spent a lot of time away, so Loser had a lot of alone time with her daughter. When we returned, she seemed alright. But the week we were back home, she immediately developed very strange behaviors again. Visiting the litter box 10 times an hour would be no exception, often running from one to the other. Almost every day we would find her poop somewhere, a development that was new and not to our liking. She clearly was suffering from something, because she would drag her bottom across the floor, leaving shit stains pretty much wherever she went. She just couldn’t hold it in, and her poop looked more like large rabbit droppings than like turds. She was also vomiting, more than she ever did before. Finally, she had stopped cleaning herself properly. She smelled quite bad, and just felt bad to touch, especially her bottom half. Greasy, and covered in particles from the litter box.
Last week we decided that this was no longer fun. She was clearly suffering from something, and it was not nice to see, or be around. To be frank, many of the behaviors were getting quite disgusting. Loser had a good life, and almost fifteen years of it, but we decided to put an end to it.
I didn’t expect that it would be this tough. Loser just knew her tune had come. When she was in her cage, she was trembling. She would cry out, but different than the usual complaints. She didn’t like to be caged. When the vet took her, she gave in. She seemed to have accepted her fate. When they gave her the injection, tears streamed down my face. I thought back to my darkest days of anxiety, when I would rarely leave my student room, and her presence made my day just a tiny bit better. I thought of the babies she had, and the joy and mess they brought. Of all the times she didn’t do much, but was simply there. I haven’t cried like this in a long long time. I will miss her.
Even though I named her Loser, she didn’t give in easily. After the first injection, she wouldn’t even close her eyes. She was calm, but didn’t fall asleep. The second dose closed her eyes, but she didn’t go. Instead, she started snoring like crazy. The third dose did not change that. At the fourth dose, I was asked to leave the room, as it would go straight in the heart, and this would be not pleasant to watch. I would have stayed, but the vet didn’t let me. When I returned, she was still breathing. I took her in my arms and I felt the life drain out of her. A minute later she was no more. The vet confirmed that her heart was no longer beating. Loser never lived up to her name. She was winning until her final breath. Stubborn as hell, and high as a kite.
I brought her dead body home. I couldn’t leave her there. I’ll give her a proper burial tomorrow. That’s the least I could give her. I’ll miss her, but part of her lives on in her daughter that’s still with us.
Bye bye old friend. Sleep well.