My cat, she who woke me up at 5am, talked and purred constantly, is gone. I got her in December 2017, right before Christmas and thought she would live with me a few more years even though she was already 13. We would be cranky old ladies together.
She had surgery in September, there were tumors in her abdominal area. Thankfully they were benign but the vet told me they could recur. She fussed to me about her shaved belly but her appetite was good, the next day she was purring and waiting at the door for me when I came home from work.
Then she began hiding in the closet and sitting in the far corner of my room. She allowed me to pet her but not for long. I thought it had to do with Christmas and New Year’s. There were strange people and unfamiliar smells in the house. She did not like changes in her routine and I thought it was her way of saying so. She was also an introvert, another reason we got on well.
But a few days ago she was lying on her back and I saw red sores on her stomach. She wouldn’t let me look at them and retreated to the closet. I took her to the vet two days later. I should have done it the following morning but had to finagle time off from work.
I expected the vet to say she would need some surgery, maybe some drugs and send her home in a day. That was on my mind when I stuffed her in the cat carrier. She resisted it, more than usual. I should have noticed but didn’t.
It was a cold and icy morning, schools and the library were closed. The roads were nearly empty but slick. Cho complained all the way.
The vet hadn’t arrived yet when we got there. The receptionist took the carrier and cooed at Cho. They would call me after the vet looked at her.
I was in the grocery store with my son and daughter-in-law when the call came. The vet told me the sores were tumors. She had them inside, from her belly to under her front arms. They were cancerous. Then she said they could do surgery but it was likely the tumors would grow back. Cho was resting, they gave her pain meds and she was comfortable.
The surgery would be expensive, nearly $2,000. It would be hard on her. She would need meds for pain and antibiotics. She would probably have to do it again, the tumors were growing in her mammary glands. She could remove the tumors but not the glands. Mammary glands ran from her groin to under her arms, small tumors had infected the whole length.
So I thought about this. I hated that I knew the decision was already made. There was only one way to relieve her pain, to make sure the tumors didn’t grow back. I checked my savings even though I knew I didn’t have enough. It was to reassure me I tried, feebly but I tried.
Bear and I went to see her that afternoon. She was more energetic, perhaps anxious but I could tell she felt better. Pain meds were doing the job. He petted her, talked to her then left. I stayed with her awhile. I talked with her, held her awhile and petted her. She scrambled out of my arms and feeling better, started to explore the room. She was looking for a way out.
I had to pick her up when the tech and the vet came in. Cho didn’t resist, she seemed to understand. She tried to shake off the IV and twitched when the tech injected the sedative. Then the second injection. Her little body was still and she slumped after a minute. The vet checked her heartbeat and confirmed she was gone.
I am at that point of grief that hasn’t accepted the finality of death. I know it, I was there but it still hasn’t hit me yet. Even though I cleaned her litterbox and donated her food I feel nothing. Yesterday seems unreal, that it didn’t really happen. In another day or a week it will kick in, when I’ll realize she’s gone.