Saying goodbye to my beloved pet:
This has got to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, to decide what day to say goodbye to my sweet cat Katy. Every day I’ve battled with this decision since the moment the vet told me that the cancer had spread to her lungs. She told me what signs to look for; she stops eating; she stops doing the things that make her happy and comfortable. Every day I looked for those signs but they weren’t there, until they were. It started as a few bad days appearing between a bunch of good days. Eventually, the bad days started to outweigh the good ones. That’s when I knew the day was coming soon. There was a huge part of me that didn’t want to let go. The selfish part of me that could not fathom never seeing her little tiny face again. Modern medicine gave us the ability to prolong her life, and make her as comfortable as possible. God knows I put her through enough, in order to squeeze a little more time together. She suffered through a few surgeries to remove masses and vet visits. At the time, it seemed like the right move. Towards the end though, I knew that all she wanted was just to rest, and not continue to battle to understand why her little body was failing her. For so long I thought, “How could it be me? How could I be the one to make this decision? God should make this decision. I can’t decide when she should die.” It wasn’t until a certain day, when she looked me in the eyes, and — just as many times in the past I was able to guess what she needed — this time I knew what she wanted. She just wanted to rest. She was tired. Extremely tired. Exhausted. It had been over 16 years, she had given life everything she had. We were separated for a while while I was in college, but we were so lucky to reunite and we had two more solid years together. With the exception of the two surgeries that were done to keep her comfortable and from licking her sores, I had never seen her as happy as she had been these past two years. That’s all that mattered to me. Knowing that I did everything I could. I still found it so difficult though. Knowing what needed to be done, it didn’t necessarily make this any easier.
I found Katy when I was about 12 years old. She jumped right in front of me as my mother and I were walking home. I asked my mom, “Ohh can I please keep her?” In retrospect I wonder if she belonged to anyone else. She didn’t have a collar on and I was too excited. The last time I had had a pet, it was a dog, and he had been abruptly taken from me at around age 7. Katy felt like a little miracle. She was about five or six months old when I found her. Not exactly a kitten but young. She was my playing buddy. I loved to do everything with her, dress her up, and treat her like a doll. She had always been a grumpy little one and I don’t blame her. At that age, I didn’t see how she truly felt, but she was patient with me. About five years later, I brought home another two rescued cats and she hated the added company. She became isolated from us and from the other cats. She had everything she needed, but she didn’t seem to enjoy our company as much. I gave her space and I was really busy taking care of the other two cats which had been abandoned. Katy was not one to easily like anyone, but out of everyone at home, she liked me the most.
Four years later I moved to New York to go to college and pursue my dreams. My mind was focused on going to school and enjoying my early twenties. Katy was with my mother and she was safe. I never gave it a second thought. She was in a huge house with a yard and other cats (which she eventually learned to tolerate) and all the food she could eat. I still got to see her on the weekends and when I visited for holidays. She would always sit close to me. Not too close but much closer than she did with anyone else. It was not until I graduated from grad school that I was finally able to bring her to live with me. Unfortunately, by then she was already sick. Although that year she was diagnosed with cancer, it was still a very special year. We got to reconnect again but now as adults. I treated her the way I should’ve treated her all those years. She loved being alone with me and my boyfriend. It’s as if she had waited her whole life to be the only cat in the house. She got every fun toy, new food, and tasty snack she could ever wish for, but most importantly she had me all to herself. It was crazy to see how our relationship had evolved. She enjoyed my company so much, she would follow me everywhere I went. I mean everywhere. Our apartment was under a strict “no closed doors” policy implemented by Katy. God forbid we closed the door. She would lose it. This was a changed Katy. She was happy and it showed. It was too bad that she was sick, but they say good things often arise from bad situations. I had been a strong animal activist the whole time I was in college, fighting for the rights of farm animals. This is a cause I still care very deeply about, but sometimes I think that maybe I neglected my relationship with my beloved cat.
I’m so glad I got the opportunity to make it up to her. Not only did she live longer than six months, she lived for over two whole years. She was so happy, and she brought more happiness to me and my boyfriend than she will ever know. Those two years were a gift, such a valuable gift that she gave me. Letting go of her was one of the toughest things I’ve had to do. Just when I had her back, it seemed her little body was deteriorating faster than she could handle. She did defeat the odds and lived longer, but last night she left us. And now I just miss her. I miss her so much. She was a major part of my life. She was like a family member. Eighteen years. That’s a long history. A beautiful history. She died so peacefully; I still imagine her sleeping in that little pet-carrier in front of me, as if she’s going to wake up any moment and come to me for a pet, but I know she won’t. I know she’s in a better place and that’s all that matters. Most importantly, she will always live in my heart.
I also have this…