Why does it seem so foolish to cry over a dead cat? I bawled like a baby, sobbed like it was a real tragedy.
I have never had to put a cat "down" before today. It was an experience I won't likely forget. Flanders was never a great cat, I'll be honest about that. He was the skinny runt of a litter of feral cats. I picked him out from a kitty foster home just outside of Minneapolis. It was 1997. He was never very affectionate, but he was always adorable. He hated most people, but he trusted me, and me alone.
Over the years he ruined countless bedspreads, carpets and even pieces of clothing, and yet as I held him in my arms while the vet injected the deadly dose of "sleep" medicine, I sobbed and sobbed.
I used to joke about how he just wouldn't die, this skeletal cat who vomited all over my house. There is nothing like stepping barefooted, into a pile of fresh cat puke at 6am. But when it was time to let him go, I didn't want to.
Perhaps it was because we bonded over the past two years in this house on MacArthur. For a full year of his life Flanders was locked in my office after he destroyed the attic of our former rental with his urine. During that year I was his only companion. He would sit on my desk and stare at me as I responded to emails and interviewed unsuspecting candidates over the phone. Nobody had to know that my only office mate was a sickly little orange tabby. He would hop on my lap occasionally and push his head into my thigh, looking for a soft pat on the head, or a scratch under his chin. He kept me company, and seemed to be happier than ever. Eventually we let him out of the office to explore the rest of our home. For a while, he did alright. Until he wasn't anymore.
Today I found pools of red across the basement floor. My little cat was vomiting blood. I couldn't let it go on.
I put Flanders in the cat carrier and loaded my 4.5 pound feline into the van. As I drove to the pet hospital, I had a feeling that I was transporting my innocent friend to his death.
I opted to stay as they put him to sleep. They injected a sedative into his body, and for the first time in years I was actually able to hold him. Flanders never liked to be held. Almost immediately he was out. His eyes vacant, his body motionless. I kissed his furry neck. I whispered that I loved him. That I would miss him. That my office would be empty without him. The vet then gave him his final injection and the life slipped out of him. He was gone.
I was left in the room to say my final goodbye. I looked at his body, then tearfully walked away.
It's a cat. An old cat. A cat that was truly a pain in the ass. But he was my cat. He depended on me. He trusted me, and it was my decision to let him go. He was alive and breathing, but with my signature on a consent form, I ended his life.
The vet said it was the right thing to do. I'm sure it was. But my heart still hurts, and the the tears keep coming, foolish as it may be.