Today is also a sad memory day for me. Three years ago, I had to have my beloved cat, Fritz, put to sleep.
I can’t explain to you in words how much I loved Fritz. He was my steadfast friend and companion for my entire adult life…for 18 years. He was completely devoted to me and didn’t much care for any one else. In fact, he wouldn’t even let other people get near him or touch him. He was so mean to other people (hissing and lashing out with his fierce claws if they walked too close to him) that I don’t think anyone believed that he was the sweetest thing to me. But he was.
Fritz had not been his usual self for a couple of days. He’d even stopped showing any interest in going outside. I was totally stressing out, because I was pretty sure he was dying. Some years earlier he’d started to have kidney problems and one of his kidneys had pretty much shriveled up. I changed his diet to lower protein to save his kidneys from having to work so hard, and he rebounded well from his early failure. But I’d seen enough very sick old people to know that now Fritz’ body was faily rapidly. I was stressing because I didn’t want him to suffer, but I couldn’t let him go. He was never one that much liked being held, but he didn’t protest when I’d hold him, so I took the opportunity to hold him often and smell him. He smelled so good. His fur always smelled fresh and sweet, especially the long white fur on his tummy. He was the most fastidiously clean cat I’d ever known.
I was working two jobs at the time, and hated leaving him in those last days. I was so afraid that I’d come home and find that he’d died alone (Mew Ling spent her days outside). But I also didn’t know that I’d be able to make the decision to let him go either. How do you know when it’s time to end the suffering? Three years ago I rushed home from work to see him since I had Avie’s birthday party to go to. He didn’t look good. His kidneys were putting out a huge amount of urine, so I knew he didn’t have long. I held him and cried and begged him to somehow let me know what he wanted me to do. A short time later, he slowly walked to his litter box to go pee. I had set up a bed right next to the cat box so that he wouldn’t have to walk far to use it. But he didn’t even have the energy to get back out of the box, and he laid down in the cat litter. A fighting to live Fritz would never have done that. He was just too clean. I knew it was time. So I called the vet and made arrangements to take him in. I’ve never done anything quite that hard. Fritz let me put him in his carrier and didn’t put up a fight. Fritz would always fight to not go in his carrier. And at nearly 20 pounds in his prime and with claws up to 3/4″ long, he was a formidable creature. I’d have to sneak up behind him and slide a pillowcase around him, and then pick him up in the case and lower him in the case into the carrier. And he’d yowl these horrible gutteral yowls the whole time he was in it. Not this time. He just let me lay him in onto a soft blanket. He looked at me with his big green eyes the whole time we were in the car.
The vet agreed that without extraordinary measures, Fritz wouldn’t survive much longer, but he didn’t know how long. They were so kind there. I asked if I could have some time alone with Fritz before we put him to sleep. I sat just holding him and crying for the longest time. I held him the only way he really liked to be held, cradled in my arms on his back, tummy up, just like you’d hold a baby. He simply kept looking up at me, and then he reached up with both of his paws and put one on each side of my face. I lost it. He used to do that with just one paw, but never two. I swear it was like he was telling me it was okay and that he was ready to go. When he dropped his paws, I let the vet know we were ready. They let me hold him while they gave him the medicine that would make it all better for good. He took a couple of deep sighing breaths and it was over.
I don’t know why, but I had him cremated. it was an impulse decision. I knew I was planning on moving, and at the time, I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving him behind buried in my backyard. I had to have my mom pick up his ashes from the vet for me. I couldn’t do it. She kept them for me for well over a year until she moved and I HAD to face taking possession of them. I guess I’ll probably just take those ashes with me wherever I go, for the rest of my life. I keep them out sight though, and I avoid going into the drawer where they are. Maybe I’ll have him buried with me.
I still miss you, Pig.