It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference how you lose a pet that becomes a member of the family.
If it’s quick, unexpected and, well, shocking, that’s tough to handle.
If it’s something you expect and are waiting for the inevitable, that stinks, too.
Today we said goodbye to our 14-year-old kitty, Mittens. We knew it was coming. She had developed a tumor in her left cheek about three months ago. The doctor took a tissue sample and sent it out to be tested. It came back malignant. She has a carcinoma, the doc said. We gave her some antibiotics and some pain meds.
She did well for several weeks after the diagnosis. But the doctor warned us: There’s no permanent cure available short of surgery, radiation and chemo therapy. At Mittens’ age, with the risk of organ failure as she came out of the anesthesia, we decided to forgo the heavy-duty treatment.
Well, she stopped eating late this past week. It’s not that she didn’t want to eat. She just couldn’t. The tumor had broken the skin inside her mouth. It had become infected. She couldn’t chew.
Today was the day we dreaded.
My wife reminded me that “this is the price we pay” for owning pets with which we fall in love. It happened with Mittens’ brother, Socks, who died quietly and suddenly in November 2014. Believe me, that one hurt, too.
Today, our hearts are broken once again.
My mother used to joke about those who dismissed cats, people who couldn’t see the personality that these critters possess. Mom knew better. My wife and I knew better, too.
We’ve had a number of cats during our 44-plus years together. They’ve all occupied special places in our hearts. Mittens was no exception.
She was a relentless bird hunter and managed to help us de-mouse our home when he had a mild infestation of the rodents a few years back.
She also was sweet, despite being ultra-shy around people she didn’t know. With her “mother” and me? She was full of love and was unafraid to demonstrate it.
When Socks died, Mittens seemed to know intuitively we were hurting and she became even more demonstrative with her affection. I can’t prove that she felt our pain … to borrow a phrase. I just knew it.
In recent months, we had decided to take her traveling with us in our fifth wheel (see picture). We learned to our pleasant surprise that she traveled quite well.
She rode up front in the kennel in our truck and when we parked and set up our campsite, she would find her favorite places to settle inside the RV. No sweat, man.
Yep, we are mourning today.
Then again, we still have Toby the Puppy to make us laugh. I suspect we’ll be laughing a little harder at the way he carries on.