On Wednesday afternoon we put down our beloved cat. She'd had a good fourteen and a half years of life, all but a couple months of it with me, and was an inveterate mouser right up through mid-November. With three serious health strikes against her (kidney failure, cancer, and hyperthyroidism), I'm amazed she made it as far as she did. I'm grateful her decline was fairly swift rather than lingering.
Though she carried complaint and plaintive protest to an art form, and was never a lap cat, when she was happy and cuddled up beside us, the world was a sunny and benevolent place. She was a bright spirit, The Cutest Cat Ever, and a melter of hearts. This, coming from someone who has been around cats for four decades. Whenever the day was a bad one, she made things bettery.
It is always hard to put down a dear pet. As much as I miss her, I am glad - relieved in fact - that her decline is over. In a way the anticipation of putting her down was worse than dealing with the reality of her death. I'm surprised how very much it helps me to have the hens to care for. They are not pets. But they are in the prime of their lives, and they are happy, lively creatures. When we put our last cat down, we still had one remaining to distract us from our grief. Now our house is without a cat, and so can hardly be called a home.
Although we knew the day was coming, and although we know that other cats will be a part of our lives one day, we exist now in a time of mourning. I don't want to rush to fill that space of loss. The bitter chill and the darkness of winter feel appropriate to our mood. Grief is the price of joy and loving and remaining alive. If I felt no pain, I would know that even if my heart still beat and I still drew breath, I would not be among the living. Life consists of both joy and pain; only that which is dead is beyond suffering. My periods of mourning for pets have been briefer than for people I have loved, but the grief is no less real or less deep.
Goodbye, and go well on your way, Little Kitty. We will always miss you.