Alright, here we go:
I had to put my cat to sleep last week. Yes, I know…a cat. Some people don’t take that very seriously. So, I decided to write about it. Also, writing is what makes me feel better, usually…and right now I need that.
His name was Mischief. He was my cat, my pet, my buddy…for 16 years. 16 YEARS. That’s a long time. (Those of you who read my book know the crazy, sad story about how he came into my life, but I won’t get into that part of it).
He wasn’t feeling well a couple months ago so I took him to the vet and they told me he had kidney failure. Apparently that’s what happens to most older cats; it’s what takes them from us. They told me he wasn’t too sick yet, but that it was terminal, and that with a daily IV of fluids, he’d be more comfortable. I was terrified to do it myself but they explained to me that I had to and so I sucked it up-after all, if I didn’t, he was going to feel worse. So there’s that; for a few weeks I gave my cat a daily IV…I’ve never felt so single.
Long story short, after a while he started to feel worse. The vet told me the signs to look for, the signs that would tell me it was time to let him go. She said that too often, people hold on to pets longer than they should because they don’t want to let them go. I promised myself I would not do that to my buddy. He was a good guy, he didn’t deserve to feel like shit.
So when I thought it was time, I called the vet and told her what I’d observed over the past few days. She confirmed that it was, in fact, time. I started to cry; I told her I didn’t even know what to do. I have lost pets before, when I was a kid, but I had never had to have one put down. She explained to me there were options: I could schedule an appointment and bring him in, or she could come to my home and do the procedure there. I chose to have her come to my home. It seemed the best way to let him go: at home, comfortable, not scared. He always hated going to the vet and the thought of taking him there to die made me sick to my stomach.
I have some pretty great friends, I have to say. The night the vet was coming to put my little guy out of his misery, three of them came over. We drank wine, shared silly memories about Mischief (they’ve known him a long time, too) and gave him tons of love. He was pretty stoked about all the attention; he perked up a little and took full advantage. It was beautiful.
When the vet knocked on my door, we all just stared at each other. The girls offered to let her in but I said I would do it, I could do it. She came up and softly explained to me the quick procedure; she’d give him a shot that he would barely even feel to sedate him, then after a couple of minutes, when he was definitely unable to feel anything, she’d give him the shot that would make his little heart stop.
I put him on his favorite blanket in his favorite spot, and the vet gave him the sedative. He looked at all of us; inquisitive, tired…but he seemed relaxed. He also seemed to know it was time to go…maybe that sounds crazy but, whatever, my cat just died so give me a break.
When she knew he was fully sedated, she gently told me it was time. I started sobbing, harder than I even knew that I could. Like uncontrollable, child-like sobbing. My friends were crying, too…it was a real mess. I nodded to the vet, letting her know to go ahead and she did. I stared at him the whole time, looking in his eyes telling him I loved him and that I was so sorry that I couldn’t do anything else to make him feel better. I waited for his eyes to close but they never did, then the vet explained to me that they wouldn’t. Weird, right?
After a few minutes, she listened to his heartbeat, looked up at me and said “I’m so sorry.” Uncontrollable sobbing started again. That was it. My little buddy was gone. Everyone went downstairs and left me alone with him to say goodbye, then they came back up and that was it. The vet took him away and suddenly it was all over.
I have felt a little crazy since, I admit. I’ll cry out of nowhere, or I’ll just lay in bed when I know I have something else I should do. My friend Jackie told me I needed to give myself a break, it isn’t “crazy” to grieve. She said “he was in your life for 16 years, Sarah…it’s okay to feel the loss.” I know she’s right.
I slept with his collar on my wrist for a couple of nights. It made me feel better (except when I’d turn in my sleep and it would jingle and wake me up). Pretty ridiculous, I know.
I still feel really sad. I come home and he’s not at the door waiting for me like he had been for 16 years. I go into my kitchen and he doesn’t follow me, meowing really loudly, letting me know he wants some fucking turkey. It’s weird. It’s change.
I know he’s at peace and sure, yeah, that gives me some comfort like everyone tells you it’s supposed to. But at the end of the day, I just miss him. Period. It doesn’t seem to matter that he’s at peace when I miss him, it just hurts.
So, I wanted to write about it, get it off my chest…and I wanted to give him a shout out. He was the best, and it breaks my heart that I had to let him go.
Rest in peace, my little buddy. I love you.