My Cat
Jan 28, 2009 General Nonsense |
Soon after I started cartooning, about 19 years ago, I got my first pet, a kitten. I named her Sarah, after an editor who gave me my big break in cartooning.

I found the kitten from an ad in the paper. A local woman's cat had a small litter in need of homes. They were little tuxedo cats, mostly black with white paws and mixed faces. The woman put them on her sofa as sort of a line up from which I could choose. Three of the cats ignored me, walking to one end and playing amongst themselves. The fourth stared me straight in the eyes and approached. She selected me. Or at least that is how it felt. She made me feel special from the first second I knew her, and I hoped to return the favor.

Sarah bonded with me immediately. When I whistled, she would come running, climb on my chest in the Sphynx position and begin purring. She was a one-human cat. Rarely could another touch her without risking bloodshed.

Other cats came and went as my living situation changed. Sarah didn't care for any of them. She loved me intensely, and in her view no cat or human could compete. In time she became my office cat, to better avoid all creatures that were not me.

Every day since 1990 she competed with my work. When I picked up a pen, or lately a stylus, she would come running, yelling in cat language that I should pick her up and give her my full attention. She was my forced work break, and there were many. She was my only company for most of my day. Cartooning is a lonely art, but I was never alone.

Recently her tiny body started to shut down. But it never stopped her enthusiasm in seeing me. She dragged her arthritic body over to me every time I entered the room, even if I had only been gone for a second. She never failed to purr. I loved her intensely.

In the past month she had been letting me know the end was approaching. Maybe it was the way she moved or just some sort of animal ESP. I just knew. And so I spent as much time as I could with her, extra petting, in just the ways she trained me. Recent visits to the vet confirmed that there was no cure for old. We tried to enjoy the time we had.

Yesterday all of her systems reached their limits. The vet explained the options to my wife and me. I asked the vet what she would do in this situation if it were her cat. She wisely refused to say. I asked my wife. She wisely refused to say. This was my decision, and Sarah's. That is how it had to be. I looked at Sarah and asked her if she was ready. Her eyes told me she was, but the pain of uncertainty was unbearable.

Sarah had a history with the vet. Her chart had a big warning: She's a biter, and she has all of her claws. No one touched this cat safely but me. She was a vet's nightmare. And so the vet explained how this would come down. If Sarah allowed her leg to be shaved, and the injection to go in, without fighting, this would be the best alternative. Otherwise they would have to use some sort of cat gas chamber. That option seemed unthinkable. But it would be worse to try one method, fail, and go to the second. Again, it was my decision. And I was in no frame of mind to make decisions.

I opted for the injection, and hoped for the best. Sarah still had some fight left in her, as we learned minutes ago while the vet checked her vitals. But somehow she knew this was different. She knew it was time. After 19 years of fighting veterinarians, she let the vet shave her leg without the least resistance. And in so doing, she told me I made the right decision. I looked in her eyes as the life drained out of them. I was devastated.

But today I am happy, even more than usual. I think about how much Sarah enriched my life and I am grateful. I think about how much I learned from my relationship with her, and even from her passing, and I am thankful for it all. Today everyone in my life seems more precious. I'll always carry Sarah with me, and I know I am better for it.

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Jun 17, 2009
Reading your story about Sarah helps me accept the death of my Lottie. She was over 17 years old and I'd had her since she was a kitten. She died last Friday from kidney failure. Actually, a month prior she became very ill and had a 3 night stay at the vet. When I went to visit her there she was very, very angry. I knew she had more life in her, so I took her home with a bag full of medicines and procedures. Lottie lived to see me get my master's degree and all my family got to see her one last time. She lived to help me transition from school to looking for a job and I'm so glad we had the extra time. During that last month Lottie was very spunky and was enjoying her life. I was appreciating every day with her like none other.

On the day of her death, Lottie didn't wake me up at 3, 5, and 6 am like she always did. I looked for her and found her hiding behind some boxes. I gave her some food and gave her some IV fluids, however her little body was shutting down so it didn't help much. She kept walking around and around sticking her head in corners and crevices. I didn't know what to do. Should I take her to the vet or let her die naturally? Somehow seeing her hiding between a box and a mattress (I'm in the process of packing for a move) didn't seem like a dignified way to die. I took her to the vet and as luck would have it they were so busy that I had to make an appointment to come back later in the day. Lottie wasn't ready to die.

We spent some more time at home. I held her and she licked water off my finger. Her breath had a different odor from it's normal smell, and I just loved her all the more. She still spent more time walking, walking, walking, looking for a place to hide. I noticed that the skin on her back and side had become so heavy that it was falling down her leg like a baggy pair of pants. Finally she slowed down and rested a while with her head under the love seat. Then I put her in her little cage and waited until it was time. She was very still after that.

When we went to the vet, we took the cover off the cage and placed her on the white, soft sheet they had on the table. She couldn't even stand by this time, but still tried to move toward me. They laid her down and looked for a vein in her leg. When the vet touched her she lifted her head as if to say "Don't touch me!" (She still remembered her three nights at the vet's from earlier.) When he stuck her with the needle she let out a slow, breathy hiss, then she relaxed and went to sleep as I pet her tiny little head. Her reaction lead me to believe that she didn't want to die. She didn't want to leave me. I felt so bad, yet I was also so impressed with her courage to the very end.

Lottie had conquered sever shyness in her lifetime and had become very courageous at the end. I was very proud of her. It's never easy to take a loving pet to the vet for the final time. The guilt is very overwhelming, but is the alternative of letting your cat die in a box a better solution? I dodn't think so, but it's still hard.

Lottie is now in my heart and she goes with me wherever I go. I told her she could stay as long as she wants to.
Mar 11, 2009
Even though you are considered a comedic writer, you beautifully capture the joy, love, & eventual sadness of owning a pet. At times I laugh until I cry when reading your blog. Today I cried from empathy and your perfect words. i am sorry to hear that Sarah has left your side, but I'm sure she knew she was loved by you and was as sad to say good-bye as you were. Thank you for sharing your pain with your loyal readers. BC

PS: Now go write something funny!!
Feb 13, 2009
First Freddie and now Sarah. Sorry about both of them.
It took me 7 years to get a new kitty after my own master died. The new kitty also
picked me - or maybe I smelled like something to eat.
I'm just sorry I waited so long.

Feb 8, 2009
Scott.... sorry for the late reply.

my deepest condolences for ur loss!

and yes, u did the right thing.

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Feb 6, 2009
I'm sorry for your loss and understand completely. I wish my situation had gone as well when my beloved Angel had to be put down. She was also a one-person, treatment resistent cat.

In the few days before taking her to the vet for the last time, I had a root canal and intestinal flu. Then, when the vet tech was doing the paperwork and asked me if she had bit anyone in the last 10 days, I said she bit Chuck (another tech) last week. She sighed and left the room. I heard her talking to the vet and heard him say "I'll take care of it". I had no idea what was coming. He asked if I was planning to take her body home. When I said no, he said that because she bit someone he was required by law to send her head to the health department for rabies testing even though the reason she was being put down was cancer. That left me with the mental picture of taking her headless body home in a shoe box and her head being sent through the mail in a baggie.

What a week!
Feb 3, 2009
Wow nearly brought me to tears there.

A wonderful way to celebrate the passing of a much loved pet.

Thanks Scott.
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Feb 2, 2009
I lost a little black furball 5 years ago to cancer and I still miss her every day. I am glad you had the same peaceful experience I had during your goodbye. In her last moments, Sarah wanted you to be with her, and you were.
Feb 2, 2009
I'm just sorry..!
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Feb 2, 2009
Jesus I nearly cried there...
Feb 2, 2009
Sorry about Sarah. I have been though that. It hurts like hell.
Take care
Feb 1, 2009
I know just what you are going through. I just lost my sweet darling little baby girl Arilia at the end of 2008. A crappy end to a busy hectic insane year. She was 20 years, 8 months, and 14 days old. She had been my constant companion for that time, and the most important thing in my life. She was more important to me than my husband. I am certain that without her by my side, I would not be alive right now. While I am sad that I will never again have another person or critter in my life that was as wonderful and important as she was, I also know just how lucky I am to have had anyone in my life that wonderful.
Feb 1, 2009
Sorry to hear about Sarah. :-(

--TheBiblioholic, Femto, Milli, and Pico

Jan 31, 2009
Scott, I'm so glad you realized that you did the right thing. It's tough, I know - Sarah had been with you for such a long time. It was hard to handle the uncertainty and now the sadness. It sounds trite but it's true - it gets easier over time. You will never forget her but you'll be able to remember her easier without the pang of sadness. Thank you for sharing. Those of us with elderly cats or cats whom have just passed really appreciate it.
Jan 31, 2009

Amazing how something as simple as a ball of fur, razor-sharp claws and needle-like teeth can capture our hearts and minds. My beloved Kitten left us three weeks ago, at nearly 19 years old. My son was only 7 when Kitten (OK, we're not the most original when it comes to names) joined our lives and she really did become a member of the family. We all cried when her little body gave out, even as the vet assured us that she lived a longer and more healthy life than many cats enjoyed.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to our local Humane Society and found two new kitties to love. They are not replacements for our departed Kitten, but they are fun, quite lovable and just a bit needy. You may not be ready to have another kitty adopt you just yet, but I hope you will be soon. As you know, life is a bit sweeter and a lot more fun with a kitty in it.
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Jan 30, 2009
Ah Scott. My dogs and I had a little cry for you. They got a special reminder of how much I love having them around.
Jan 30, 2009
Hey Brother...by now you're probably numb from ready over 170 comments saying the same thing but I have to say this post hit me twice. My wife of less than a year had a cat named Disney because of a black Mickey Mouse marking on his white fur (big circle with 2 small circles for ears). I'm not a big pet guy but Disney was a very sweet cat that always knew when you were having a bad day or simply didn't feel good. He would nuzzle up to you and just make you feel better. My wife also has a selfish cat named Maverick and Disney was extra nice to him. When Disney's kidneys started to fail, it was a mighty fast downhill trip. There was an instant void whenever we came home after work. Then I very unexpectedly lost a good friend and co-worker...who was a HUGE Dilbert fan. He made it easier to deal with our pointy haired boss and associated knuckle head office mates. I don't want to compare a human to a cat but the loss can be equally devastating since home life and work life often are separate spheres in this thing we call life. Either way...just wanted to say I feel your pain and I'm so very sorry for your loss. I know you tried to hide it with the jellyfish overlords post, but I'm with you just the same. The hurt might lessen over time, but you'll never forget Sarah. I'll keep you both in my prayers.
Jan 30, 2009
You made me cry, Scott. :(

I will say that the ending to your post was absolutely perfect. My condolences for your loss, and my congratulations for having such a wonderful companion to enrich your life.
Jan 30, 2009
I'm very sorry to hear about this - it sounds like you two were very devoted to each other. She was lucky to have someone so understanding to help her through her pain.
Jan 30, 2009
Sorry i was bagging you for even having a cat. No i feal bad. May her soul rest in peace, and peace be onto you.
Jan 30, 2009
My heart aches for you, but know that you've given me some peace of mind. I have two cats, one of whom is just like your Sarah... I'm her one and only human. One will do the Sphinx pose on my chest as I'm falling asleep, purring like a racing speedboat -- and the other will be there in the morning, with a slightly softer purr. The idea of ever losing either one of them terrifies me, but I have to believe that when the time comes, I'll know, just like you did with Sarah, and they'll let me know it's OK.

Thank you for sharing your story... both the pain and the joy.
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