Friday was difficult. We knew it wouldn’t be easy – here’s how it went from Mr B’s point of view:
We cut it a bit fine, and almost hung on too long. The kidney problem is becoming more pronounced day by day.
The vet comes to us tomorrow [later today] at 2PM.
Currently, the cat is outside, being a bit too absent-minded to come in and sleep with us.
I’ll get up later and see if she wants to come in. Time to get used to a cat-free bed now.
We just shared breakfast for the last time. Miss Kitty Wannabit (for such is her name when food is to be had) enjoyed some choice bits, given by hand, as is the custom.
She’s now washing her paws, prior to lying down next to me for a snooze.
You’ll be the last cat we have, Tiddy. I couldn’t get lucky enough to find another cat who didn’t hunt wildlife, and who was so appreciative of tummy-tickles.
The dog will spend time over the next few weeks looking for you, just like she missed the puppies from next door. Dammit, I will still wake in the night to hear if you want letting in or out, and I’ll wonder why the familiar lump isn’t lodged between my feet.
Your hairs will show up amongst anything textile for ages to come: light hairs for the dark fabrics, and darker ones for whites and pastels.
I’ll sigh as I set down another serving of your leftover biscuits for the bandicoot. Bandies live a bit over three years, Tiddy. This one could very well be the sixth, seventh or further generation descendant of that one I saw you playing tag with, on the back lawn, on a summer evening fourteen years back. You’ve always been popular with the bandicoots, for your nature as well as the biscuits you let them borrow.
And tomorrow, we’re looking for a grevillea for that sunny spot by the west wall of the studio, to show where you’ll be from now on, poor old worn-out darling. There won’t be any more trouble with the stairs, or painful embarrassment for both of us as you slip away mentally for a while and forget how to get out of the house for a piddle.
The little blue wrens which flitted, nervous but unthreatened, past your unconcerned gaze, will visit once again, but you won’t be there.
We’ll have photos. We’ll have memories. Perhaps it’s kinder that way. The old, limping cat with the wandering mind will be remembered as the little scrap of fluff who, on her first night, insisted on showing me that A Kitten Sleeps In The Bed, Not A Basket; or that athletic young cat who leapt at a butterfly, missed with her forepaws, and followed through by twisting her back and clapping her hind-paws together in a last-ditch attempt to catch the Fluttery Thing.
The line “Let us go then, you and I” will just be a bit of T.S Eliot. I loved how you’d get up and walk down to the studio with me when I quoted the line, even though it was probably body-language and intonation that got you going.
I might say the line, just once more, as we head for the sunny spot…
The Fee-Arse Dog even kissed her cat goodbye, between the sedative and the syringe of green stuff that brings down the curtain.
It was quite peaceful, and the old darling slipped away without fear.
She’s wrapped in one of my t-shirts now, beneath that spot where she loved to bask in the sun.
We’ll toast her memory tonight.
From my point of view:
Even from the very first day little Connie appeared in your life, Miss Kit Tern, you were such a tolerant and forgiving cat.
You teamed up to look after me and Mr Beloved – no one ever had to sleep alone.
And when the time came on Friday, you were such a good girl – you didn’t want to go, but you were still a good girl. But I know keeping you around any longer would have been for our benefit, not yours. If someone could have offered me a magic pill to make you well again and give you a few more pain free, clear minded years with us, I would have jumped at the chance. But we couldn’t let you suffer – I saw that so clearly when the pain left your face and you stopped hurting when the vet gave you the sedative – I knew then that we had to go ahead and let you go.
I’m so very very glad that Connie was there – we were worried that yes, Connie would keep looking for you; but because she saw you slip away, she was with us when she saw the pain go out of your eyes when the sedative kicked in, she kissed you goodbye, and then after the green needle she knew that you weren’t in there any more, that there was just a kitty shell left on the couch, that cat-cat had gone away now. She knew.
So apart from a brief trembling fit on Friday night, when I think Connie was scared that she was going to be sent away too, so far so good. It’s the humans that are having trouble coping. I washed up your milk bowl for the last time and didn’t know where to put it and burst into tears. I’ll take your last packets of food up to the RSPCA later, because at the moment opening the cupboard and seeing them makes me cry.
And now – back to other things that I have to get through – the essay for uni, the groceries… but all without your little cat feet and enquiring “prrrrow? .
I miss you, Miss Kit Tern.
(PS: Toowoomba people – if you need a vet I cannot recommend Creature Comforts Mobile Vet highly enough – Jules was so kind and compassionate, and took her time with our poor old cat and with us – she saved us so much stress by coming to our home for Miss KitTern’s demise. firstname.lastname@example.org. Jules Harboe, 0437 VET VAN.)