…so did I.
I haven’t mentioned it, but last Saturday we put Jessica down. She was eighteen, and still loving, but she had become incontinent (not in the sense that she had lost control, but in that she didn’t care where she went, and the litter box was generally last on the list). She was down to half her peak body weight from an original nine pounds, just skin and bones, and very finicky about food, demanding not food per se, but to be fed.
She was always a very social cat (even when we rescued her at the age of one and a half, she seemed more dog than cat in her need for attention), and remained so, but she was tired, and didn’t seem to enjoy anything in life other than eating, and lying on us. At the end, she had to stay outside lest she destroy the house, and when I took her to the vet to diagnose a diarrhea problem, we both concluded that despite her continued affection, she was suffering from dementia. Patricia and I made an appointment for Saturday, and saw her through to the end, which came very quickly and painlessly, at least for her. There was very little fight left in her. We brought her home and buried her in the yard where she used to play when she was young.
While we’re relieved that we can finally clean floors (and perhaps replace some of the wood flooring where she’d made permanent urine stains through a rug that we hadn’t seen), there’s a hole in our lives as well, after over sixteen years. Rerun (the young cat we adopted three years ago) doesn’t know what happened to the older cat she used to try to play with, but she’s been more subdued than usual. At some point, I hope we’ll get her companionship her own age.
[Update a while later]
Thanks for the condolences in comments. It’s interesting to note that what we did was very common when we were growing up (and not unusual at all to our great grandparents), but a lot of people think it’s weird today, I think. Some friends of mine live in a farmhouse west of Ann Arbor across the road from a church in which some of their relatives are buried in the yard.
When we first got a quote for the procedure from the vet, it included cremation, with an option to keep the ashes. That’s in fact what I did when Stella died, but I didn’t really have a choice, because I was half a continent away when it happened. Apparently keeping the body of the animal is an unusual request. When we asked, the vet said that we weren’t supposed to bury it ourselves, but she would give it to us as long as we didn’t tell her what we were going to do — for all she knew we were taking it to a pet cemetery for interment. It actually saved us a little money, and made us feel like we were taking care of her ourselves.
And apparently dealing with pet remains is a pretty good business. We just used a cardboard box. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t care. The vet did make a little clay cast of her paw print, that the young women in the office paint (one of them was a little apologetic about it — “It’s nothing fancy, sort of like a kid’s art project”). I’ll pick it up tomorrow. Maybe I’ll embed it in a cement slab.
[Update late afternoon]
One more point, per comments. I am never offended by someone offering their prayers for me, though I’ve been god blind all my life (and expect to go to my grave that way, which is one, but not the only reason that I’m into life extension).
I can’t imagine how they would hurt me (well, OK, I can, but only in a ludicrous, Pascal’s-Wager-denying thought experiment), and I assume that they at a minimum benefit the person praying. I always appreciate everyone’s good will, and good thoughts, in whatever form.