The one where you probably don’t want me to take care of you when you’re old

I’ve been thinking for days about coming up with a new tag for posts like this, something like “not up for discussion” or “shut your piehole, bitches” but enough time has passed now that I think I might not burst into tears if someone says “sorry about your cat”. Having said that, though, let’s not bring this up in front of me, justincase. Just comment here.

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Rembrandt (AKA “little one” or “freaky”); approximately 18 years old at the end. Daughter of Bigfoot, a cat that my father got from Andre Norton at a science fiction convention, which was the grandchild (grandkitten?) of a Hemingway cat. Reme still had the extra toes, in front.

So… Rembrandt was always freaky. She didn’t like other cats (only kittens, and only hers). She didn’t like to see you touching her (but she liked to be petted and held). She was always surprised when she would see another cat in the house (even though she’d never been an only). She was always high-strung.

And a few months ago she started … well, getting even … freakier. She’d forget you were a few feet away and she’d start howling, lonely. She would poop, anywhere. And granted she’d never been the most fastidious of cats, but now she started pooping right next to the food dish. Or on herself, in her sleep. She would pull herself up from wakefulness with her front legs – her back legs didn’t work very well when first getting moving. And her balance was atrocious – she never stopped wanting to hop up on things but if she was within a foot of the edge she’d go right over.

So we started isolating her. Keeping her in the cat room. Away from the other cats, away from the dogs (even though for some reason, she seemed to like Corwin). And she curled up on a shelf behind some books and slept, pooped, slept, ate, pooped. At first she would poop on the floor, somewhat near the cat boxes, enough to make me think she was making an effort. But then … she started pooping on the shelf. Where she was sleeping.

We convinced her to move from the shelf to somewhere more easily accessible, but… that didn’t change the … the problem.

I read a lot about feline cognitive dysfunction, which is sort of like a precursor to Alzheimer’s , of which she had many symptoms. And I tried to take care of her as best I could, without thinking too much about it or crying a lot.

And it got to the point where I really should have been bathing her at least twice a day. She wasn’t grooming, and she was sleeping in her own waste. But I would walk in, and see her, and just start to sob. And do you know what she would do? She would wake up, and she would look at me, and she would start to purr. And I couldn’t make the call. I couldn’t call the vet! She didn’t seem to be in any pain! She was just bugnuts crazy! She was like the blind old aunt in the attic, smearing the walls with bodily fluids! And because she wasn’t in pain, I couldn’t justify making the call. How could it be time if she was purring? But then a few days ago, when she was purring, and covered with scabs, and trying to get me to hold her, I thought… maybe she’s purring because she trusts me to do the right thing. She’s always been safe with me. She’s always trusted me. How could she not be trusting me to make this better? To make this go away? To make this … end?

And I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t call.

I couldn’t even ask Tim to call. I had to write it down on a piece of paper and show it to him – I couldn’t give voice to the words. I wrote down that if he could, could he make the call? And that I didn’t want to be home. I couldn’t. I’m such a fucking chickenshit asshole. Isn’t this what we agree to when we get pets? Didn’t I sign up for this? But I was afraid Dr. Camp would yell at me – what for, I wasn’t sure. Maybe yell at me for putting an end to a perfectly good (if demented) cat? Maybe yell at me for taking so long to make the call?I don’t know what I was worried about. Our vet is a lovely aging hippy, I wish I could recommend him to you but he’s not taking on any new clients.

So. Tim called. Dr. Camp came to the house. I wasn’t home, but was making myself busy at work because I am a chickenshit and I wasn’t ready. Tim says Dr. Camp said he was proud of us for making the call – that a lot of pet owners can’t do it, can’t face it. I probably could have faced making the call in another week or so, but… I didn’t think it was fair to her. Once the thought broke through my head that this wasn’t just another freaky phase – like when Colleen lived with me and her cat attacked Reme, who then spent six months living in the closet – I knew it wasn’t fair to her, for me to wait until I was ready.

She deserved better.

Tim bathed her that morning, gave her wet cat food, and held her. He says she had a really good day.

15 comments

  1. I’m so sorry for your loss and proud of your strength. I ask myself everyday if it is the day to make the call for my cat. Love you both….C

  2. I know that nothing that anyone can say can make you feel any better, but take comfort in the other animals that are still with you. You gave a weird little kitty a very happy life and you will always have your memories and photos.

  3. It’s never the right time – for us. But she was loved and appreciated every single day of her life. It’s wonderful that she stayed in her own home until the end.

  4. It is so hard, SO HARD, to come to that point. I’ve been there too, and it just HURTS, years later. I’m grieving with you, and send you a virtual hug that enfolds you.

  5. I gave my MIL a kind of “thought for the day” calendar many years ago. It sits on my desk at work now. Today is says:

    “The only true gift is a portion of yourself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

    The gift of a loving home that you gave to Rembrandt and that you give to all of your family – four legged and two, is priceless beyond measure. I know how empty your heart feels, but as for me, I try to focus on a life of love and much, much purring. All of your four legged kids, both past and present, are some of the luckiest creatures ever to be for knowing you. Bigs hugs.

  6. Big hugs, Lore and Tim. She was a great kitty and we do know what it’s like. We couldn’t bring ourselves to call the vet, either, for our Petie (born on Lore’s parents’ bed). She kindly passed away in her sleep. Love, Aunt Gay

  7. Dear Tim & Lore,

    We’re sorry that you had to say goodbye to another dear, furry friend. Sounds like she had a good life, and a very special last day. You’ve had a rough few months. We love you. Mom

  8. You know what? I think she purred because she loves you. And you know what else? I think it would RAWK if you were (stuck) taking care of me when I’m old. (Mostly because that would mean we are living on that crazy-cat-lady alpaca/chicken ranch we keep talking about. Way better than some nursing home!)

  9. Just got home and catching up. Saw your tweet and had to come to check what happened. I’m so sorry. Making that call is the hardest thing in the world. I went through that with Kush when he was still eating and still enjoying affection – but was down to skin and bones. It was an impossible decision. It’s always hard and there’s nothing wrong with it being hard. I’m so sorry though. I wish I had something to say to make it better.

  10. So sad. You’re lucky to have such a nice vet with the home visits. What you describe is very similar to Sneaky cat’s deteriorating condition. Soon we will have to try to coax him into a box and take him to visit a vet. Or maybe we will just find him one day lying still down at the end of the yard where he nests. Hopefully if that happens Dave will be here to dig the big hole. But for now, he still lurches around, eating well, sometimes able to use the back legs, sometimes not. Mostly not when it comes to the habit of burying his poop, unfortunately. But at least he doesn’t seem to be sleeping on it, just leaving it where we can smell it and pick it up on the shovel and toss it over the fence. (That goes onto the no-mans-land by the lake, not in to a neighbor’s yard, don’t worry.)

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