Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Life Giveth, and Life Taketh Away

Nothing makes one ponder life like death. Not exactly a topic I expect to get to in the fourth entry of a blog about my parenting experience. But sometimes these decisions are taken out of our hands. Today, my cat for most of the past 17-plus years, Frances, died. And I signed the death order.

Sometime last night, I saw Frances moving very awkwardly and went to check on her. She seemed totally unaware of my approach and offered very little resistance as I picked her up and held her. When I placed her back down, she could barely stand without wobbling, even bumping into the garage doorway at one point. It did not look good to me. Frances has been an outdoor cat for many years and slept reasonably happily in the garage, but last night I let her sleep in my office chair, knowing she probably wouldn't move. I checked on her every time Max woke us up (odd, discovering a handy use for middle-of-the-night feedings this way) and her situation was pretty much the same all night.

The vet couldn't get us in until 5 pm today, so Frances pretty much spent the day sitting and vegetating in out-of-the-way, hidden locations in the yard. She was stiff and creaky in her limited movements, and generally just sat still. When we got to the vet, the news was not surprising: Her kidneys had totally shut down, a common cat ailment, and she was down to 5 pounds. The choices were simple: Buy her some very limited about of time, take her home and wait for her to die (no more than a few days), or put her down right there. We chose the latter option. And so there I stood, with my stepdaughter Alex, who'd driven up from San Jose to be there with her longtime cat, watching the life disappear from Frances' eyes as the toxin took effect.

Goodbye, Frances...and sorry. Max started the circle of life, and you had to finish it. Have fun on the other side.

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