“Remember me and smile, for it’s better to forget than to remember me and cry.”
Last night, our old lady cat Tasha died. I made the very difficult decision to terminate her life. She was 19, and up until a couple of weeks ago, despite kidney disease and arthritis, she was still coping well and holding her own against the two little boy cats who shared her home. Yesterday though was something else, and when it seemed to me that she was actually in pain and not able to eat, I didn’t want to prolong her suffering. The veterinarian and the staff were kind and compassionate, and Tasha’s death was very peaceful.
Pets are part of the family. If they’re not, then why have a pet? I believe that once you have a pet, you are responsible for it, as you would be for any family member. Coping with their illnesses and death are part of the package. In return for your care, they give you love, keep you company, and provide you with an endless source of amusement. It seems like a fair trade. I resisted getting any kind of pet for many years after my husband and I married because I knew I could not do it lightly. But when our young daughters wanted kittens, my husband and I gave in. That was the start. I had grown up with dogs, and I never suspected how much I would love my cats.
As Tasha became old and frail, it became hard to remember her as the young cat who leaped into the kitchen sink to get lettuce—and that she ran to the kitchen at the sound of the lettuce spinner. Or that she once had the curiosity and sense of adventure to figure out how to open the cabinet under the bathroom sink, crawl into the space around the pipes, and run around in the area between the bathroom floor and the kitchen ceiling.
One of my daughters (lovingly) referred to her as a diva, and she was. She demanded immediate attention, and this attitude increased, as she got older. We referred to her as the old lady princess cat. She also began to howl (that is the only way to describe it) in the bathroom when she wanted water from the sink, which she did, constantly.
One time, however, her howling helped to rescue another one of our cats. After a period of very heavy rainfall, our basement had flooded. That night as my husband was trying to pump the water out of it, we think our cat Ricky got scared and escaped through the window, but we did not discover he was gone until the next morning. I was in tears for two, long days as we tried to find him, assisted by friends and friends of friends.
Finally, my husband and I camped out in the dark of our backyard. I placed fresh food, the litter box, and one of my dirty gym shirts on the ground near the window from which we think he made his exit. We accidentally scared Ricky away once. Then cautiously he returned. As we wondered what to do, from the open bathroom window, we heard Tasha howl and howl again. Ricky replied with one his strange little squeaky sounds. I called to him then, and he ran to me. I scooped him up and brought him back inside. Ricky got food and hugs; Tasha got water from the bathroom sink.
Tasha did not like our other little boy cat, but she tolerated Ricky. She let him sleep next to her, and even let him lick her head.
Tasha could be annoying, and I do not miss cleaning up after her. But I would love to hear one of her howls now. Rest in peace, Tasha. You were well loved.