Note - I have been unclear in the following post. Chuck was euthanized on Saturday, December 6, 2008. The original linked post was written in February, 2007. This post was written Tuesday, December 9, 2008. We got an extra 22 months and we're grateful.
We said good-bye to Squeegie like cowards just past Thanksgiving two years ago by having Oldest who hated the cat take her in to be euthanized. He cried anyway and brought her ashes back in a small tin that sits on the very top shelf of the hall closet so that Youngest can ask strangers if they’d like to see that she keeps her cat in the closet.
After Squeegie died I wrote a piece called Last Days with Chuck and when I look at the photograph of her all curled up in the sunlight on the back of the couch I can see the beginnings of what we saw in the end; her wizened little face curling in on itself all the while letting the sacred cat bits fly back to Bast.
It didn’t get bad until early fall. Chuck peed on Little Girl’s bed and we chalked it up to a not quite clean enough litter box and a not quite tidy enough bedroom. Cats are funny that way. We took her off dry food and forced wet in an effort to reduce any urinary tract infections but that just pissed her off because Chuck doesn’t like change of any sort.
And what began as a gentle Pavane toward the
escalated rapidly with recriminations, pointed fingers and bad behavior all around; including the cat but we can’t really blame her for that. Middle Child, who found the kitties in a wood pile when she was just five years old, about lost her mind over this. She did so in the traditional manner where storm clouds gather in corners of rooms and hover like the threat of disaster.
We limped through Thanksgiving in a state of unraveling denial and every day I told myself I would call the vet from work and every day I did not.
And then one day I did. It was a Wednesday and I dialed the number and when a man answered I blurted out all staccato like “I need to make an appointment to put my cat down.” Stop. Breathe. Air. There was some back and forth and an appointment was made for Saturday and the man told me he was sorry and then we hung up and I put my face in my keyboard behind my cubicle wall and cried good and hard as quiet as I could. Then I blew up a couple databases and left for the day crying all the way home until my eyes swelled shut. Aside from mentioning the appointment in passing, I didn’t speak of it after that.
On Saturday morning I got out of bed and dressed with some coffee and a toothbrush. Chuck was in Middle Child’s room and the kitty carrier was on the back porch. I think I started crying when I picked it up. Anyway, into Middle Child’s room I went and stuffed Chuck face and feet first into the last place in the world she ever wanted to go while Middle Child sat in her bed like the world stopped spinning and I’m doing this and eventually we all got into the car and drove the requisite 4.5 miles to the vet in the center of town where we three plus the cat sat on a bench in a quiet room and waited.
Our vet is a good guy. Really. He says things like ‘that dog’s on the right side of the force’ and I know exactly what he means. He talks sense about the whys and hows of animals and the choices we make and that’s about as unexpected as hens teeth around here. He looks at us and says “I understand you’re considering euthanasia.” Just like that. Like we had an out or something but there wasn’t any judgment going on all the same. So we talked a little about what was going on and what we’d done to try to fix or live with it and he agreed it sounded a bit like some neurological magic coming undone only he didn’t say magic, I did. I’m thinking Bast is way behind pulling this kitty home and maybe it’s my fault for wanting to hold on just another day longer.
Anyway, it was time and he explained everything. Cat’s don’t like to have their arms held the way dogs are kind of ok so the cat has a shot that puts her out but her eyes are still open and she’s all floppy like she already died or something but she’s warm and she’s got a heartbeat and he leaves the room again and there we are taking turns holding her when Husband finally finds a box of tissues and half the Atlantic ocean ends up in paper. When the vet comes back he shaves her arm a bit, ties a tourniquet taking care to tell us that it doesn’t hurt and we’ve laid hands on this cat not to heal but to send away and the needle slides in just so and the fluid is dispensed tiny bit by tiny bit (he is so careful, this vet) and her chest stops moving and her heart goes still and Chuck has crossed over the Rainbow Bridge leaving the rest of us behind to remember last days with Chuck.