The Cat Who Cried Wolf

Early this afternoon I said goodbye to Claire, my cat of sixteen years. There were so many times this summer when I thought she was at the end of her life, whole days she spent lying in my closet and crying piteously. Every time I’d think “This is it, this is the end” and every time she’d come strolling out of my room a few hours later all “Who, me? I’m fine! I’ll outlive all you suckers!!!” I was like, “How many times can this cat fake her own deathbed?”

Other than these “bad days,” she was mostly her normal self, playing slappy-paws with Georgie, sitting next to me on the couch and purring louder than a motorcycle, climbing up and down her tower and hopping up on the bathroom counter to drink out of the sink. This week it all changed. First she stopped eating. I thought it was just another one of her bad days, but one day turned into two, which turned into three. Without her eating I couldn’t give her insulin for her diabetes. She started losing weight rapidly, and yesterday she stopped drinking water. We all tried feeding and hydrating her by hand but she wouldn’t or couldn’t do it.

This time there was no mistaking it; it was the end. I spent the day yesterday wracked with guilt and indecision over what to do. Would it be selfish of me to just let nature take it’s course so that I wouldn’t have to face the hard reality of deciding to have her euthanized? Or would choosing euthanasia be selfish since that way I wouldn’t have to deal with her health problems anymore? Also, why do pets have to die anyway, because that is some SERIOUS BULLSHIT.

Last night I talked it over with some people in a discussion group I’m in on facebook, and they helped me come to the decision that the most humane, gentlest thing to do for Claire was to have her put to sleep. She was clearly suffering, and I didn’t want to leave her in pain just so I could feel better. This morning when I woke up I found that she couldn’t walk anymore and I knew it was definitely the right thing to do. I called the vet as soon as they opened and immediately burst into tears. I cried the whole time I was booking an appointment for 12:30 today, and after that all I could do was wait. Wait and cry.

I spent the morning trying to keep her comfortable, petting her and making sure Gwen and the dogs didn’t clobber her. At noon I moved her from beside my desk into a sunbeam that shone through the living room window. She always loved lying in sunbeams and I wanted to give her one more warm, happy moment. We all sat around her and told her we loved her and she was a good cat and it was ok.

Taylor stayed at home with the little ones and Sym came with me to the vet. Claire hated to go into pet carriers against her will so I carried her there in my arms. The vet and all the assistants were wonderful, so gentle and kind. We stayed in the room with her until the end. Sym sang “Amazing Grace” but replaced all the words with “meow.” We told each other stories about all the silly things Claire used to do, we made each other laugh and cry. We told Claire goodbye, and then she was gone.

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baby kitten in my lap, 1998
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surrounded by love on her last morning, 2014

She was the best little kitty ever, and I will miss her so much. Goodbye, Claire.

18 Replies to “The Cat Who Cried Wolf”

  1. Tannie .. I’m so sorry to hear about Claire. She was such a unique cat .. beautiful big eyes, soft colourful fur. I know the decision was hard but I love you for it .. no more pain, no more shots, just playing in kitty heaven.

  2. “Why do pets have to die anyway, because that is some SERIOUS BULLSHIT”

    Tell me about it. It’s been over a year since my cat died and I still can’t help crying just hearing about other cats dying. I’m so sorry for your loss and I’m glad you were able to spend time with her on her last day. Rest in peace Claire!

  3. What Kari said. Your post moved me to tears; i had to put two cats down within two years of each other – cats I’d had with me my entire adult life. It was one of the hardest things I ever experienced. I know how you are feeling. It gets better. You’ll move on, I promise. But someday you will see a blog post about a cat dying, and two years will have passed since you put Claire down, and it will be like it only happened yesterday, and you will sob hard. Because you don’t forget the love. ((hug))

  4. I am so so sorry Tanie; I’ve put two cats to sleep, one that I had for 16 years. It was devastating, even when I knew it was the right thing to do. You two were lucky to have each other. I still think of my bb Cashmere and Tobias and even though the memories of putting them to sleep is still terrible, I have so many other great memories that outweigh that <3

  5. I’ve loved your Claire pictures over the years.
    So sweet that Sym sang in cat, or myat, as it is known in my household. Sorry you all lost someone you loved. Pet death does suck. I’ll never be a grown up about it. X

  6. I’m so sorry. You and Sym are so brave; when I had to put my cat down, I couldn’t even go into the room I just handed them to the vet tech, burst out crying and then ran out of the entire vet centre to go cry in the alley. My partner was such a mess, he couldn’t even get out of the car. Saying goodbye is so hard, you should be proud of your family for making her last moments full of love. xoxo

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