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Opinion: Sending a friend to the great beyond

Originally appeared on Aug. 26, 2017.

It took less than 10 seconds for Buddy the Cat to get rid of her pain.

Buddy has been known to readers of these scratchings for the last few years as the cat who rents our house to us (two bowls of wet food and one bowl of dry food daily). She also would provide a security service by sneaking up on bluebirds, who never once allowed themselves to be caught.

It is true, though, that every three years or so a bird would die of a heart attack and keel over, and the cat would bring it to the back patio as proof she had been on the job.

The last few months, especially since the hot weather settled in, the cat has not been her usual self. Instead of prowling around among the bushes on the hunt for birds, she has been lying on the pavement, in the shade, where the concrete was at its coolest. She would hit the patch of concrete in the morning and stay there until she decided to do a little exploring around the flowerbeds in the late afternoon, settling on a patch of shaded dirt, waiting until the sun went down.

Also, she was not eating as she formerly had. She demanded food, as promised in her lease with us, but wound up eating only some of it, or sometimes none at all.

She had thyroid problems, too. The pills for that condition had to be crushed and mixed in with her food, and she didn’t like the pills.

She began to lose weight, and she was shedding more than the usual bushel basket of hair every week.

Then she started behaving badly — throwing up and wetting on the rug when she was in the house.

The vet checked her over and determined she was suffering additionally from urinary problems that would be causing her a lot of discomfort. The vet said that was not unusual in a 15-year-old cat.

She said that maybe it was time to think about punching the cat’s ticket to cat heaven.

The cat has had a good life, the vet said.

That was true. She never went hungry, she always had a safe place to stay, there was always a human handy to pet her and play with her (not me, of course; except for having to feed her, to keep from breaking our lease, I had nothing to do with her; except when I would fall asleep on the couch and she would sleep on top of me).

The vet said we had better “let her go.” We agreed and set the date. I wound up taking the cat to the vet for The Final Visit by myself because Mrs. Doud had become ill.

They put the two of us in a room with a window, and the cat almost had a heart attack when a client with an enormous black great Dane led it by that window on the way into the clinic.

The vet came in after that, said some very kind things, and took the cat away for a few minutes to fit her right front leg with a cannula. When she came back she injected a tranquilizer into that cannula; you could see the cat relax and almost smile. I was thinking of asking for a shot of that myself. Then came the overdose of anesthetic which was going to do the job, and in three or four seconds, the cat had gone to cat heaven (as I like to think), and that was that.

It was not hard to say goodbye, because I knew she had been in great discomfort. Her departure from this life left all that discomfort behind, and there is no more pain.

The bluebirds may wonder why no black-and-white cat is (unsuccessfully) trying to sneak up on them. The neighborhood cats who would come around to see her and mooch her food, may wonder where she has gone. But I can tell you it is to a better place.

The morning after, I absent-mindedly looked out the dining room window to see whether the cat was out there as usual, waiting for her breakfast. She wasn’t there, of course. And it finally hit me that she would never be out there again.



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