“No one can truly understand the bond we form with the animals we love until we experience the loss of one.” ~Unknown
This past Christmas we made the decision to put our cat, “Angel” down.
We knew she was suffering, and so were we, with the frustration at not being able to cure what ailed her. We tried everything that the vet recommended. Nothing stuck.
Being the natural health freak that I am, we also tried natural remedies. She would respond for a while and we would be elated, but it didn’t last long, and things would go south yet again.
We had constant messes to clean up; odor that was intolerable at times; and increasing levels of care that we were struggling to give. She was not using her litter box and was pooping all over the house, and not easy to scoop up, clean, solid poops, but sloppy, “hold your breath, I am going in” sh*ts. Area rugs and carpets were slowly being forever transformed into stained ornaments or décor that no longer appealed to the eye or any other senses.
Not that any material object was more important than our dear and precious fur ball of love. She was an important part of the family, and unbeknownst to her, had seen me through a divorce and three moves. She was my constant for over 15 years. She was my Angel.
For the most part, Angel had a perfect demeanor. The vet even told us at one point that only a small percentage of cats had such a wonderful way about them, we were very lucky. Although at times, if you ever touched a sensitive spot on her body, or she had just too much loving, she would let you know in no uncertain terms by a quick cat bite, and jump away.
Angel was never a “fat” cat, but she always had a good girth to her. When she ran, her underbelly would jiggle back and forth and that never grew old for providing a good chuckle. In her last months of life, no matter how much she ate, and she always seemed overly hungry, her soft cozy body became bony and skeletal. That swaggering underbelly was not so funny anymore.
Even though she was the “family” cat, everyone knew she was really my soul cat. She would listen to me, talk to me, and no matter where she was would come when I called her name. My voice was her home, my heart was her home, wherever I was, she was never far away. In the end, the decision was mine, with the family agreement, of course, and it still pains me to this day.
Even though we felt we were doing the right thing, the turmoil that followed was heart-wrenching, beyond what we anticipated. Making the choice to end her life hurt like hell and forgiving myself has been a journey.
Our minds were mostly okay with what we were doing, but doubt was there lurking as an unwelcome companion, challenging our decision. Our hearts were all over the map, screaming at us “please don’t do this.” Looking into Angel’s eyes, seeing her confusion, watching her fighting to stay with us is a memory that will forever haunt me.
My children grew up with her, and she with them. All our family members and friends each had their tender moments with Angel. She was a people lover, allowing anyone who entered “her” home to love her up. You couldn’t help but want to hold her, pet her, and allow her time with you. She just loved to be with and “in touch” with people. Other animals not so much.
We adopted Angel when she was 11 months old; she was already named, so we kept it, not realizing at the time how appropriate a name it was. I had given my daughter, then six, a stuffed cat the Christmas before as a practice pet so to speak. She was black with a white spot, and she named her Angel. Fast forward many months, and we happened to come across a cat at the pet store who was black with a white spot. We all held her in our arms to see if she liked us, and how friendly she was, and instantly fell in love. It was only after deciding to bring her into our family that we discovered her name was in fact Angel. That sealed the deal, and as they say, the rest is history. It was a match made in heaven, and she was truly an angel.
One thing Angel loved to do and pretty much insisted upon was joining me/us for our morning coffee, curling up on our laps, taking turns no less. She was fair in her giving of affection. It became a regular routine that we grew to love and cherish. As so in the beginning, so in the end, bedtime goodnight snuggles also became a welcome and comforting ritual over time.
Morning coffee is not the same, coming home to an empty home has its own pang, bedtimes without her snuggles leave a hole that cannot be filled. The new area rug in the living room is a bittersweet reminder of her absence.
I cannot fully begin to explain the depth of pain and grief we have been feeling since Angel has gone. What I do know is that pet loss and the grief associated with it are real, tangible; not to be slighted, ignored, dismissed, or minimized. One of the mistakes we make with grief is to compare losses, making some more significant than others, and therefore ignoring our true feelings. All loss is felt 100 percent by the griever, and we need to allow ourselves to feel and grieve all our losses if we truly want to feel better and heal fully. Pet loss is no exception.
She is gone but not forgotten. She still has her place in our home. Her ashes are nestled beside the fireplace in the cutest cat urn ever. It is a small curled up sleeping cat with adorable angel wings. Yes, this may seem corny and morbid for some. For me, it is heartwarming, just like the fire she loved to curl up by and bask in the warmth of during the cold winter months.
Goodbye, and goodnight our sweetest Angel, you are missed. Thank you for all the love and joy you brought into our lives.