For nearly 17 years our cat, Lizzy, was a part of our family. A long-haired tortoiseshell with a short manx tail, she was petite and adorable and pretty much ran things. At least she thought she did. When she was happy, that little tail vibrated with excitement, just like a dog’s.
That changed around the age of 14. Lizzy turned cranky. Mean, even. She’d as soon scratch you as cuddle. That was no fun for us or any of the well-meaning friends who ended up with claw marks on their arms or hands. The vet told us Lizzy’s thyroid was off, so we had to buy and feed her thyroid meds twice a day. Expensive, and quite a daunting taks. After a week or so of meds (and doling out a few nasty scratches), my husband and i got the hang of things. Lizzy never did like those pills, but her temper mellowed out some. Though not enough that we ever trusted her again. We let her tell us when she wanted petting, and it wasn’t often.
About six months ago she stopped grooming herself. For a long-hair cat, that means knots and filth and grossness you don’t want to know about. In November I found a wonderful kitty groomer who shaved her all over (she was that filthy) and washed her thoroughly. I made plans to bring Lizzy in once a month for a bath and combing.
Early Wednesday morning I headed for my usual workout at the gym. When I got back all the lights were on. At 6:00 am, this was strange. My husband met me with a sober face. Lizzy couldn’t move her hind legs. I sat with her, stroking head, which seemed to calm her, while my husband dressed to take her to an emergency vet.
Putting her down was the humane thing to do, the vet said. “Then do it,” my husband said.
After raising three daughter and numerous dogs and cats, hamsters, chameleons and fish, neither my husband nor I wants another pet. Lizzy was our last.
We buried her in the flower garden out back. She is at peace. We won’t be dealing with cat hair everywhere or those nasty hair balls or clawed-up furniture or kitty litter. No more twice-a-day battle to make her swallow those pills. We’ll be able to travel without worrying about her.
But I miss her.
The Pilot's Wife, March 2008