When we got Sasha from the Tacoma Humane Society, we’d been dating for just about 6 months, living together for about a month. I was working at United Way of Pierce County in a temporary administrative assistant job; he was working for an underground construction equipment company. We were living in a tiny apartment where the bedroom roof leaked. There was no blogging or smartphones; IIRC, I had an old Mac, a half-step up from the “Mac in a box” that I’d owned in college, but no internet access.
We went to the humane society with a vague impulse, but no actual plan to get a cat. C still had his gerbils (Anton & Maurice), but we both missed having cats. Then we got there, looked around for a bit, didn’t see any cats we connected with. Until he spotted her, tiny, cinnamon-colored, & adorable. She’d just come in, and we were the first people to see her. We took her home that day; we didn’t have a carrier, or cat food, or anything. We just thought she was the cutest kitty.
That was 15 years ago, almost to the day. (I remember it being right around C’s birthday.) She lived with us in that horrible apartment, in the lovely Grey Gables where we got Maddie, in the little house in the sketchy east Tacoma neighborhood, in the duplex in Lakewood, and for the last 10 years, in our home in Olympia.
She never got very big, but she was a lively explorer and an enthusiastic friend. She was particularly attached to C. She loved to climb, until the muscles in her back legs became withered, and until just the last day or so, she loved rolling in the dirt. Which was tricky, because with her coloring it was hard to tell until you reached down to pet her. She loved climbing up onto the table, especially if there was D&D stuff there.
When C & I had arguments, very often she would come in and walk back and forth between us, meowing loudly, trying to climb up on us. Sometimes it was stressful, but at the same time, it always felt like she really just wanted to make everything better.
In the spring of 2011, we thought we might lose her; she had some sort of eye infection, but she responded amazingly quickly to treatment. Then this February C noticed that she was acting lethargic & that she was even thinner than usual. We took her to the vet — on Valentine’s Day — and after blood tests discovered that she had kidney failure. Turned out that’s incredibly common in older cats, very often what old cats die of, but the short-term prognosis is quite variable: could be days or years. She got anti-anemia shots, and potassium supplements, and we learned how to give her subcutaneous fluids. And she stabilized: a little better, a little worse, but back to her usual silly energetic self for the most part.
Recently she’s had trouble eating; she’s been a picky eater for a while, but it’s been more severe with the kidney failure. We gave up on the special food because she just wouldn’t eat it. When I came back from my trip to Atlanta, I could really see just how thin she’d gotten. The last food I really got her to eat…she’s always tried to fish raw chicken bits out of the trash, and so when I was making dinner and she was actually hovering about, I cut up a bit into tiny tiny shreds with a bit of warm water & gave it to her.
Then yesterday it was really obvious that she was done. I don’t know how to describe it, really. We made the decision to have her euthanized, and this morning I stopped by the vet (office is about two blocks away) and made an appointment for this afternoon.
When I came home from work, it was warm, sort of hazy-sunny — the wildfires east of here are doing a number on the air quality — and we got to spend a little time with her outside as she slowly tottered from shady spot to shady spot, following the sound of C’s voice, mostly. She always loved lolling about in the yard. Finally it was time. We bundled her up in a blanket, in a laundry hamper instead of the hard plastic carrier, and walked down the alley with her to the vet’s.
I’ve never been with a pet before when it died. I got to stroke her fur in her last moments, and to be with C, standing together, holding each other close.
It is both an incredible sorrow, missing such a silly fuzzy little thing, and an incredible relief, and so I’m dreadfully sad but I know we did what was right for all of us.
I’m giving the other kitties lots of love right now….
Here’s some pictures of her I’ve posted on Flickr over the years.