"I would like to hold Meeno one last time, please"
March 9, 2013 5:38 AM   Subscribe

Photographer Hiroyuki Ito remembers his cat.
posted by lalex (73 comments total) 60 users marked this as a favorite
How did it get so dusty in here?
posted by lumensimus at 5:47 AM on March 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

The very, very last time I held Zach was in a back room at the emergency vet's office, after he took a bad turn during his last (and ONLY) illness and I'd realized it was time and had him put to sleep. A friend had rushed to meet me and he helped me make some pawprints with index cards and ink to save, and then everyone left me alone - and I held him and sang Into The Mystic as one last lullaby.

I think it was Kinky Friedman who said that when you die and get to heaven, the very first thing you see is all the pets you ever owned running up to meet you.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:52 AM on March 9, 2013 [38 favorites]

I couldn't figure out how to fullscreen the thing on the tablet, but even at 1/2 the screen it drew me in and clouded my eyes.
posted by DigDoug at 6:03 AM on March 9, 2013

How did it get so dusty in here?

Dust doesn't make you sob.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:05 AM on March 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

That was really sweetly told.

I have been there myself but I don't want to remember it too much or I won't be able to see through the tears.

Our little companions are really very important.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:11 AM on March 9, 2013

Brb, sobbing.
posted by halcyonday at 6:20 AM on March 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Should've read the tags before I clicked on that at work.
posted by Jeanne at 6:40 AM on March 9, 2013

EmpressCallipygos, I managed to hold it together through the slideshow. Barely. But reading your comment made me lose it. That was my grandma's favorite song and we played it when we spread her ashes in the river behind her house. I can't even think about that song without getting teary eyed.

Of course, my father and brother are currently at my house installing a bathroom exhaust fan and I'm sitting here blubbering with a bright red nose, trying to explain that I just read a thing about a cat.
posted by MaritaCov at 6:41 AM on March 9, 2013 [6 favorites]

The worst thing about pets is outliving then. Having to put our greyhound down some years ago was one of the hardest things I've ever done and I've been dog-shy ever since. We'll probably end up with another one soon. We have cats, but they're more like furry roommates than an EVERYTHING YOU DO IS AWESOME pet like a dog, and we'd like our kids to know what that's like.
posted by jquinby at 6:51 AM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

That was heartbreaking.
posted by tooloudinhere at 6:52 AM on March 9, 2013

I love the right-hand image of #10-- it's just beautiful.

My cats are wondering why the human wants to hold them so close all of a sudden.
posted by Pallas Athena at 6:53 AM on March 9, 2013

Jquinby, I understand that hesitance. The logical side of me often wonders if pet ownership is rational. But then Einstein nudges me and I stop caring... Then he farts and I begin to wonder all over again.
posted by DigDoug at 6:57 AM on March 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

Sobbing here. I still miss all my old dogs from my childhood. Ticky is a healthy 5 year old boy now and I can't bear the thought of him leaving us. This may be why I have a paw in the eye.
posted by arcticseal at 7:05 AM on March 9, 2013

I'm apparently stupid, but what do I click on on that page to actually see the photos? The picture doesn't seem to link to anything, and the two links in the description lead to the photographers website and a list of all posts by the photographer.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:11 AM on March 9, 2013

Click the arrows or numbers, the full screen didn't work on my tablet either.
posted by arcticseal at 7:14 AM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I should have added that all the dogs and cats I've had the privilege of sharing my life with have given me far more than I can ever tell, and although the grief at their passing is terrible, the joy in their lives is not something I'd ever give up.
posted by arcticseal at 7:16 AM on March 9, 2013 [5 favorites]

I'm not seeing any arrows or numbers. It's occurring to me that this thing must use Flash and if you don't have Flash (I uninstalled it yesterday because it was causing some technical problems), it's simply disappearing completely from the page.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:18 AM on March 9, 2013

I just lost my little boy, Mr. Bester - a sweet black cat, this past Monday. Reading this was hard, but also comforting. I'm so glad I got to be with Mr. B until the end and that he was able to go peacefully. I was out of town last year when one of our other cats died and that was so much worse.
posted by ursus_comiter at 7:22 AM on March 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

I lost a rescue due to kidney failure back in 2002. She'd been abandoned by someone, probably because they found out she had an autoimmune skin disorder and didn't want to deal with the nuisance. Coworkers found her in a backyard, almost dead. We nursed her back to health and I took her home.

Even with the daily pills, Kiki waxed and waned for several months. During the bad times her skin would rash and scab up and her eyes would ring with dried pus. Clumps of fur would fall off with the scabs, leaving behind a very ragged looking Persian. Then would come a period of health and her fur would grow back, her eyes would clear up, and she would knock over my towers of books and CDs, then slump over to show her belly, asking for a tickle.

Months of fighting for her life as her own body rebelled against her took its toll. In her final month she seemed to be doing well. A bit slim but her fur was complete, no sign of any skin scabbing. Then she went through the same thing as Meeno: she lost weight drastically and one day could barely walk. Kidney failure.

Like EmpressCallipygos, the last moment was me in a back room of a VCA crying over a very calm Kiki.

As I sobbed and shuddered, trying to come to grips with the knowing that I needed to end her pain, Kiki stared at me, then placed her paw on top of my hand. Somehow, that stopped most of the crying. I looked at her and she looked back. A bit of claw unsheathed as she weakly kneaded my hand, as if saying it was going to be okay and I was going to be okay.

Today the pair of cats I've had since they were kittens are hanging out with me as I write this, wondering why I'm tearing up for what seems to be no reason. Kiki was right, and I knew she was right, but I can't help the tears thinking back to that day she placed her paw on my hand and told me it was okay to say goodbye.
posted by linux at 7:23 AM on March 9, 2013 [13 favorites]

It's convenient that all my cats are immortal and so I will never have to go through the loss of a cat again.

Though actually Matilda is 11 and though she's perfectly healthy, I've had more time with her than I will have in the future, and okay, time to stop thinking about this. Also probably time to take this post out of recent activity.
posted by jeather at 7:32 AM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

We lost Midge two years ago. She had a lot of issues, including seizures, neuro trouble and one side of her face was damaged, but she was a little life-loving "let's go out there and play with the world!" bundle of happy bounce. Then came the kidney failure. My wife had her at work (a vet clinic) and they did everything they could. Her boss told her, "If she has another seizure it will be bad for her. Understand?" "Yes sir." "VERY bad. You understand me?" It hit her then that he was telling her to have Midge put down if a seizure hit. A week and a half later, at a point we knew the battle was already lost, we had Midge sleeping peacefully with us when the seizure hit her harder than any before had. We had her put down within a half hour. She never really regained awareness during that half hour, and was asleep on the table like she always was, stretched out comfortably. They do a clay pawprint, and my wife insisted to the techs that they get both front paws. Her back legs had never been strong and she used her front legs to control everything. They did a great job with that.

She was seven. We only had her a year. Miss that little girl every day.
posted by azpenguin at 7:49 AM on March 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

posted by shockingbluamp at 8:11 AM on March 9, 2013

Oh, why did I read this right now? I'm so teary. Time to give my Ada a hug.
posted by tickingclock at 8:15 AM on March 9, 2013

It was the dream that got me too. I've had one about each of the three furballs who've shared their lives with me when they passed away. I have two others who are still happily around; a big Maine Coon dozing at my side, and a little black shorthair who's been bouncing around as is her usual.

With Grey, who had also been on the street a bit and (likely) caught infectious peritonitis there, I dreamt that he prrowed at me from behind a transparent fence, then perked his tail, closed his eyes at me in that kitty-kiss way, and sauntered off happily in a field of greenery. I knew he was happy.

Le chat Malo died after being hit by a car... I had adopted him with a boyfriend eight years earlier. Unfortunately, my ex refused to listen to me when it came to not letting Malo outside unsupervised, so Malo had gotten used to being let outside whenever he wanted. I eventually broke up with the ex; his treatment of our cat had ended up being a pretty good summary of how he treated others in life (humans included). When I moved into my current apartment, he did everything in his power to get out a window that wouldn't close properly. All it took was me forgetfully leaving the door open to that room one night, and Malo never came back. A little while after the city pound called to tell me they'd found his body (ugh that was an awful day), I dreamt that he was sleeping peacefully.

The most poignant dream came with the cat I had picked out at the pound as a 7-year-old. I still remember him in a cage with his shy white sister. I put a finger through a hole, said "hi!" and Morris, as I named him when we left the pound with him in his cardboard catbox, trotted up, sniffed my finger, rubbed up against it and meowed. His sister looked at him as if he were out of his mind.

Thirteen years later, I finally got out of the abusive family that had raised me. Morris hadn't been coddled either; he had never been allowed inside, nor had he ever been vaccinated or even been to the vet; he'd had many a run-in with raccoons and possums but always come back alive. I went back to the States for a visit a five years after I had first left, my first visit in all that time. Morris hadn't forgotten me, although he had kept a wide berth from my family almost as soon as I'd gone overseas. They were shocked speechless to see him come running after I called his name just once. After I left again, his health started fading.

He finally passed away at the age of 21, although I don't know how exactly. Family told me he had "disappeared" and "probably been killed by a 'coon."

A month or so after they told me that, I dreamt of him. I was at our childhood property, outside, where I so often went to be with our Golden Retriever and Morris, who would snuggle and play. I was excited to be able to see Morris again, and called for him. He toddled up to me, clearly aged. Rather than jump into my arms as he usually did, he mwapped for me to pick him up. I took him in my arms; his long fur had hidden his frail body that I could now feel. "Oh, Morris!" I said, now understanding that I was seeing him because he had died, or was dying. "[fraula]", he spoke, "I love you." I started crying. "Now I can die happy," he said, and let out his last breath, his body going limp.
posted by fraula at 8:30 AM on March 9, 2013 [10 favorites]

I will not look at this.. I will not look at this..

A room full of elderly cats and one of our last barn cats (about 11 years old) wasting away with probable kidney failure.

This is not something I need this morning.
posted by jgaiser at 8:31 AM on March 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

We highly recommend viewing this slideshow in “full-screen” mode.

I highly recommend viewing this slideshow in "full-tissue" mode.
posted by chavenet at 8:42 AM on March 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

Here's something stupid I wrote about my stupid cat who died.
It's been two days now and I'm still overcome with grief. I'm ashamed at being so affected by an animal. I have a small child. I'm a doctor and I deal with illness and death everyday. I'm not entitled to mourn such small things. I guess I'm lucky I've not experienced a lot of personal loss in my life. Right now I just want to feel her absence, as though this will keep her alive with me longer. I've been told me that writing helps one to cope with grief, so here I am. I'm going through the motions of life but the suddenness of all this has left me in a state of shock to say the least. There are reminders of her recent presence everywhere around the house, impressions in pillows and those ubiquitous tufts of fur. Her sister Kali, who never spent a night without her until Monday, just now seems to comprehend that she's really gone.
Fucking cats trick you into loving and caring for them, then they do this shit. Now my throat is swelling up and my eyes are watering. Fucking cats probably did that too.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:55 AM on March 9, 2013 [5 favorites]

Not crying at all. Much.

Damn pictures of stupid cats.
posted by bunderful at 8:58 AM on March 9, 2013

Geez I'm glad I'm alone in the house right now, because I've got tears streaming down my face and snot blowing everywhere. This is eerily similar to how I lost my favorite cat, seven years old and then in two months she went from healthy carefree to unable to move. The BIGGEST mistake, and I mean BIGGEST, I made in having a friend take her to the vet to be put down was letting him carry her out of the house in her pet carrier held backwards, so I could see her little bewildered, sick face looking back at me through the little door in complete confusion over what was going on. I will be haunted for the rest of my life by that image. I cried for a week solid. I've lost close family that didn't tear me up as badly as her death.

And just now the current cat has sensed my despair and is demanding laptime and is yowling at me. Tears and cat fur. Bbiaf, she gets a nice piece of smoked Gouda, her favorite treat. Use your cat powers and pass on all my love to my beloved missing baby with this cheese offering.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 9:25 AM on March 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

I'm no stranger to sorrow. I'm not a stranger to depth and pain in art, or the loss of pets or loved ones or palliative care.

I opened the link thinking "Hey, you can handle this. You don't seem to have a lot of tears left these days, anyway."

And then I hit the last two or three frames and I just lost it and started bawling. Like everyone else I read the pull quote right here in the thread, but the whole photo essay is so guileless and raw and loving... and... cat ghosts.
posted by loquacious at 10:06 AM on March 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

My dog Lulu died Tuesday morning. I'm not going to look at this. (I will bookmark it for later when I'm not having all the feelings.) My other dog Binky spent all day Tuesday lying in front of Lulu's crate moaning. Heartbreak on top of heartbreak. There is nothing like losing a pet. It's a different kind of grief from losing a person. Pets just totally get it, man.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 10:20 AM on March 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

"They say the test of [literary power] is whether a man can write an inscription. I say, "Can he name a kitten?" And by this test I am condemned, for I cannot." - Samuel Butler

Well, this just opened the floodgates.

Recently we had to let go of my father-in-law's cat, Sugar. At 23 years old, and in the final stage of kidney disease, he wasn't a pet anyone in the family could take on as we moved my father-in-law out of his home and shut it down, and we couldn't expect a rescue to use their limited resources on such a pet. When my daughter and I took Sugar in to our vet, we cried and cried. It wasn't so much about Sugar as it was about it being the end of all sorts of lifetimes - my father-in-law's; the disposal of my husband's childhood home and its artifacts; the loss of the best apple tree for climbing and reading in for my daughter; and the sadness and confusion surrounding Sugar's last few confusing weeks in the house without his usual human there for me. I so wish Sugar could have passed as peacefully as Meeno. The wasting away of Meeno looked so like Sugar's end that I'm weepy again. If there can be a "good" death, I am glad Meeno had one.
posted by peagood at 10:25 AM on March 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

On the subject of ghost cats - My first cat, I had from age 1 till 14. I was terrified of her when she was given to me - apparently I practically climbed my mom to escape this tiny little black and white pawed bundle of fluff - but two days later, I was toddling after her going KITTIE!! while she went 'fuck, fuck, kidzilla!' And vanished into the hiding place my parents made for her. She went with kidney failure and we made the decision to put her down but only my mom went to the vet. I woke up a couple night later to find her trying to drink from my water glass* before hoping down and vanishing out the door.

A couple years later, we got Scamps and Zebadee, Zebs went out one day, aged about 11 and never came home. My parents live Up North in the countryside, so he might have been baled by a hay baler or fought a fox, or just went somewhere to die but he leapt on to my bed in London a couple days after my mom let me know and padded about before vanishing. He was, as you can see, a rather hefty beast so his landing was very...distinctive.

We've still got Scamps, although he is an elderly beastie now (who spent my entire Xmas stay at home being delighted by my festive norovirus as I was too enfeebled to move which meant he had someone he could sleep on allllll day.) but I'm pretty sure that he'll come visit too when he goes. I just really hope it is not for a long, long time.

*one of the many reasons I have a water bottle now. Oh my god, cats. >.<
posted by halcyonday at 10:38 AM on March 9, 2013

Oh, fraula, as if the link alone didn't make me cry, your story about Morris made me bawl. (And that brought my dog over to play extreme kissyface, as he does whenever he sees me cry)
posted by SisterHavana at 11:03 AM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

The logical side of me often wonders if pet ownership is rational.

Pet ownership is one of the most rational things a human can do. Because human beings are surrounded by a hundred thousand things to make them forget YOU ARE ALIVE. But it needn't be thus, and animals show us conclusive proof of that fact.

Wordsworth wrote "The world is too much with us," but what he meant is our culture is too much with us. The world isn't with us nearly enough, but it is with pets, and by experiencing life with them we are reminded, and by the shortness of their lives, we are shown the shortness of our own.

I looked at her and she looked back. A bit of claw unsheathed as she weakly kneaded my hand, as if saying it was going to be okay and I was going to be okay.

When a cat kneads you? It's remembering being a kitten, trying to get milk. It's treating you like its mother, back in its own vanished childhood. How many things do you do that remind you of your own vanished childhood? Shouldn't you do more?

It is possible to explain almost everything a cat does with a system of instincts and learned responses, to extract any feeling for a cat's emotional state out of the behavior as an intellectual exercise much like reducing fractions. But you can do the same thing for human behavior, in every case. But being humans, we know there's more to the fact than that, and that recognition allows us to see that there's more to the fact for animals, too.
posted by JHarris at 12:03 PM on March 9, 2013 [8 favorites]

I am going to be a total wreck when it's time for any of our pets to move on. I can't even watch a happy pet movie without choking up. It has something to do with what Roger Ebert once described that made him cry at the movies--not death or loss, but selflessness, nobility, honor, sacrifice or some combination thereof. I'd have to find his essay, he (of course) said it much better than I can.

In a human those qualities are amazing, but you might wonder just a bit at the back of your mind whether there was a baser motivation. In an animal, which probably doesn't have the mental capacity to even understand emotions at all (which isn't to say they don't have them), it's clear that those things just are part of who they are.

If you love animals (and respect them enough to keep them in good health and safe), you're OK by me, no matter how much we may differ on anything else.
posted by maxwelton at 12:05 PM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thanks, Empress. Just when I thought I'd clear the weekend without a meltdown...

posted by datawrangler at 12:18 PM on March 9, 2013

My husband tells me that when I die two orange balls of light will be waiting for me.
posted by Alles at 12:19 PM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Best Cat Ever was diagnosed with a brain tumor about a month ago. Medication has stopped his seizures and he's in no apparent distress, but it's just a matter of time. Despite being on a high dose of phenobarbital, he still hunts birds, chases his tail, and swaggers around like the masterful ass-kicker he is.

I can't bear losing him.

I have to.

posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:20 PM on March 9, 2013 [12 favorites]

Linux, similar thing happened to me. Perhaps just serendipity, but I want to believe that (in my case) our dog was trying to comfort another member of her pack.
posted by datawrangler at 12:24 PM on March 9, 2013

I lost my wonderful perfect beloved Riley last September to a spinal cord tumor. She was about to turn nine. It was sudden and shocking and unexpected and wrong. I'm still not over it, it's still not okay, and it probably never will be.

I remember lying on the grass in my back yard with her, one spring day years ago, when the air was warm but the ground was cool. She was having an uncharacteristic moment of calmness, flopped out on her side. I was on my back with my head on her chest. The sky was blue. My bare feet were cool in the grass. Like that song says: Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens.

I don't know what I believe in anymore, but that's what I want, if I can have anything happen to me after I die. I want a cool-warm day with sunshine and shade trees and bare feet and all the animals I've loved so much, and nothing at all happening to us, because everything already has.

Now I need to go blow my nose and hug my Newish Shelter Dog, who will surely break my heart someday, but he's worth it. They all are. They always are.
posted by cmyk at 12:25 PM on March 9, 2013 [16 favorites]

Kinky Friedman better be right, because I'm counting on a pack of big dogs to come running up to me to have their ears scratched.

If I get to heaven, that is. Odds aren't so good.
posted by datawrangler at 12:27 PM on March 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Great use of the sobbinglikefatgassybaby tag.
posted by Blue Meanie at 1:02 PM on March 9, 2013

"Not a bad way to go," the vet said to me after I put down my beloved dog. "After a long life, in the arms of your favorite person." Meeno knew he was loved. I only wish everyone (animal or human) could know that.
posted by BibiRose at 1:21 PM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I broke my elbow last night, so I'm just going to blame the sobbing on the drugs, 'kay?

I lost my childhood pet Pumpkin on the first day of the new year. We got her and her sister when I was 6, and she lived for 21 years (Fluffy made it to 17). Pumpkin was the most beautiful cat I've ever seen; her face was split down the middle, half-orange, half-black. She was whip-smart (though she started to lose it toward the end) and loving (which she never lost). Losing the last childhood pet is unbearably painful. It certainly ends any illusions that you might still be a child. I think and dream about Pumpkin all the time now; I keep thinking she's alive and I make comments and perform actions that intimate I've forgotten we don't have a cat anymore. She was part of my life for as long as I can remember and it's hard to remember she's gone. She lived just long enough for me to come home after a trip and see her one more time. I went to a New Year's party, knowing she was with my parents and thinking we'd have a couple more days, but by the time I came home it was over, and I regret that. I wrote this after she passed:

"I still think I hear her or that I should let her in, because she's clearly just outside. In her later years, she developed the trick of getting more food by going outside for thirty seconds, and then returning and letting us know she had been outside, so that meant time had passed. My parents' bedroom door was never closed at night for twenty-one years because she always slept inside, snoring in the cutest way possible, and would beat on the door like a battering ram if it was closed. I went to bed late the evening of the first (had trouble sleeping for a week and a half), saw the closed door for the first time, and cried my eyes out.

Pumpkin loved to eat flowers. When I was a child, I thought I would circumvent this desire of hers by making my mother paper flowers, which were put in a vase on the dining room table. When I came back into the room, she was up on the table eating the paper flowers; I still treasure the incriminating photo of this I snapped. Later in life, she would continue being strange about paper, carrying around wadded up Kleenex and howling while depositing them in a neat line down the hallway. I often wondered if this was due to her missing her sister, an odd grieving ritual.

I have all sorts of stories about Pumpkin, but I can't go on forever here, though I would like to. She was my best kitty friend, almost a twin but one of a kind. All I am left with are my own grieving rituals.

Dan and I walked home late on the night of the 2nd in the middle of a snowstorm. It was very quiet and snow was rapidly accumulating under our feet as the flakes lightly touched our faces and melted. The atmosphere was reverent, full of hushed beauty. As we walked up the driveway, I noticed a set of tiny animal footprints that had been left before we arrived. Cat footprints. The footprints walked up to our door and then disappeared.

I am a rational and scientific person. I do not believe in spirits, God, the afterlife, ghosts, or anything like this. I know that whatever animal was walking across the driveway probably disappeared into the bushes at the side of the house.

But in that moment, every fiber of my being wanted to believe that Pumpkin's spirit had found its way home, to the house she had spent every night but five (Pumpkin's Great Adventure, being spayed, foot surgery, infection recovery) of her more than twenty-one years."
posted by ilana at 1:45 PM on March 9, 2013 [9 favorites]

I have two cats. They're the first pets I've had that are really mine, not my parent's (not counting the fish).

They are going to break me one day.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 2:13 PM on March 9, 2013

We need that breaking, especially in the West, as so much that surrounds us abstracts away the meat and dust we came from. The love and fear and joy and anger we have is only ours for so long, and if we forget that our time is limited, we can forget how precious our time is. Pets help us remember this, in their short lives, and in their purity of essence. They all have the Buddha nature, and their light shows us the way.

I have a friend who keeps pet rats. She names them and loves them just like any other pet. They live just a couple years. I don't know how she can bear it.

Welp, time for me to feed my monsters.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:27 PM on March 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

Speaking of rats…

My wife and I had two rats when we first lived together, Emory and Oglethorpe. Rats are actually great pets. They are like little did, constantly begging for treats. But, yeah, they only live fire a few years, and unlike gerbils and other small rodents, when they due, they linger. Rats tend to due of respiratory failure. When our first rat got sick, we didn't know this, and we waited days for him to die in the night. When we finally realized he was just going to suffer, we took him to the vet and had him put down.
Our friends hired about using a shovel, but Oglethorpe was family.Rats are good at processing toxins, though, and it takes a lot of medicine to put them down, but he died in our hands.

When Emory got sick, we knew what was wrong, and we spent a month feeding him berry-flavored steroids with an eye dropper.
Finally, when my wife was out of town, I had to take poor Emory to join his brother.
I know he was just a rt, but I felt so bad because I knew he didn't understand what was happening, or that I cared about him, and I just broke down crying in the vet's office after he was gone.The vet told me to go home, and not worry about the bill, which I still appreciate.

Our oldest cat is nine, and when she dies I am going to be a total wreck.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 2:41 PM on March 9, 2013

My Lydia is 16 (probably - don't know for certain as I am her 4th owner) and was just diagnosed two days ago with an abdominal mass. I've got her back to eating a little and she started grooming herself again last night. I don't know if we have weeks or months left but she is getting all the love I have every day.
posted by shiny blue object at 2:45 PM on March 9, 2013

I would like to hold Qu'Appelle one last time, please.
posted by spinifex23 at 3:08 PM on March 9, 2013

When I was growing up, my family had a lot of cats (and a fair number of dogs), despite living in the middle of a big city. The death of pets was not quite routine, but it happened often enough that it was just a fact of life, and although I missed pets after they died, I never got very emotional about it.

I've found it's different as an adult. My wife and I had three cats between us when we merged our households, and they were all mature at that time. When the first of them, Oscar, was clearly on her way out (due to kidney failure, as often seems to be the case), my wife couldn't bring herself to call the vet to schedule the euthanasia, so I volunteered. And I discovered for the first time that my voice caught and it was hard to make the words come out. We held Oscar as the vet injected her and made no attempt to keep our emotions in check. It wasn't any easier with Squeaker or Kevin.

The cats we've adopted since were all kittens when we got them. Although it wasn't part of our rationale at the time, I can't say that I'll mind the fact that we shouldn't have to face moments like that again for a long time.
posted by adamrice at 4:05 PM on March 9, 2013

Great. First I was sobbing and then I had to pick my fur ball up for a hug and now I have a face covered with snot and cat fur and I have fur in my mouth. Thanks a fat lot MetaFilter.
posted by arha at 4:09 PM on March 9, 2013 [8 favorites]

That was beautiful, thanks.
posted by maiamaia at 4:37 PM on March 9, 2013

Damn kidney failure. We just lost our 18-year-old cat to it a couple weeks ago. It's so hard. She lost so much weight, even though she was still interested in nibbling food up to the end. She lost her dignity, and she'd always been so gently dignified. My husband (who had had her since she was small enough to fit in his hand) and I took her for her last appointment when we could see she wasn't able to enjoy herself anymore. He'd gotten the cat carrier out and I said, maybe you'd like to carry her in your arms instead? I don't know why that was the case--I'd taken others for their last appointments in the carrier, but I just couldn't for her. That was right. I drove so he could carry her and hold her until we brought her into the examining room. We took off her collar there so she could die free. He put her on the table for the first shot, the one that lets her sleep, and she put her little face down on her paws like she was so tired. We talked to her until the end, reminding her how much she loved to roll in the grass and the dirt in the sun, and climb in the kids' tree house, and sleep in a warm bed with us. I don't think I've ever seen my husband break down like he did.

I have her collar and a piece of her fur that the vet gave us after he shaved it from her leg for the shot. My husband doesn't want to see those yet so I have them in my jewelry box. Sometimes I go in to touch the fur, even though he doesn't know I do. He'll want it later. But right now that's what comforts me.

We too are atheists. And we too would like to hold Mouse again.
posted by dlugoczaj at 5:34 PM on March 9, 2013 [5 favorites]

The first cat me and Sandra got together wasn't a well cat when we got him. A minimum of ten years old, a stray that had come knocking at my parents' door, he had to have most of his teeth pulled when we took him in, he wouldn't have survived another winter. I wasn't too keen about getting him first, but then when I came to visit one day and picked him up and he put his paws around my neck I knew he was my cat and I was his human.

I've always been lucky with cats; they like me, but none liked me so much as he did. He loved to lie on the small of my pack when I was lying on the ground reading, or just cuddled up anywhere; loved being stroked too, a cat who could spent hours soaking up affection.

He died of kidney failure as well, failure that had led to a couple of weeks of him losing losing control of his bladder as well, which did make it harder to be with him when he needed us the most. We tried to make his days as comfortable as possible, but it did look as if he was dying and we were still debating going to the vet to put him to sleep, when he took the decision for us.

One night Sandra had gotten up early, as usual, to potter around for an hour or so and Monty was just lying there next to her, purring and cuddling and then he got up to the back door, asked to be let out and that was the last time we saw him alive.

The next day I picked him up from a neighbour's garden, already stiff and cold, brought him home and Sandra buried him underneath the tree he liked to climb so much.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:19 PM on March 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

Sobbing. Giving myself a headache sobbing. This is so stupid. I knew I shouldn't click on this link, I *knew* it, and I did, and now I've got tears collecting under my chin and my kitty is avoiding me because I picked her up and wouldn't let her go while I cried into her fur, and I have a headache. When did I get so fucking emotional? This is why I shouldn't have children. Ugh, I have to stop thinking about this now.
posted by maryr at 6:35 PM on March 9, 2013 [6 favorites]

We lost one elderly cat in December and her sister two weeks ago. They were littermates and had just hit 16. I wish I had more photos of them, particularly when they were a bit younger and healither--thankfully Hiroyuki Ito was better prepared than we were in that regard.

Link should maybe be marked Not Safe For Grieving Pet Owners. Excuse me, must go hug my remaining cat again.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 7:06 PM on March 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm reading this thread in bed with Nigelcat sitting on my lap between me and the computer screen. I adopted him when he was 11, two years ago; he's in the very first stages of kidney disease. I tell myself that I'm rationally aware that I won't have much time with him, and that I'm giving him a fine old age, but the day it comes will be horrible. I just hope it's far from now.

Cat's just washing his face like nothing's happening. Silly cat.
posted by jokeefe at 10:08 PM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Relevant - a song that grapples with loss as an atheist, especially pet loss. Small Comfort by George Hrab.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:23 PM on March 9, 2013

This thread is beautiful and terrible.
posted by maxwelton at 10:38 PM on March 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

That Weakerthans song cacofonie linked to is not helping. It gets at what makes grief about pets different, that idea that you are abandoning them to death, especially if you need to put them to sleep. People can understand what's happening to them, can try and cope with their death, but pets don't, can't understand and they're looking to you to make everything alright when you can't.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:01 AM on March 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

he's in the very first stages of kidney disease. I tell myself that I'm rationally aware that I won't have much time with him, and that I'm giving him a fine old age, but the day it comes will be horrible. I just hope it's far from now.

There's a very good chance it will be. Very early-stage renal disease is very, very manageable in cats; Zach had that when he was 17, and my vet prescribed simply a change in diet and a daily metabolic supplement. When he stopped eating a year later we got scared that it had gotten worse, but after a thorough exam we found that the real problem was colon cancer (and, basically, the fact that he was now 18). But, when we did the blood tests in the course of that, my vet found that he'd responded so well to the diet and supplement pill that his kidney function was testing normal again.

See, I say that, and yet if you look through my posting history from about that time you'll see that I was freaking out a little too.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:22 AM on March 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

Very sad photo set. I hesitate to criticize someone who obviously loved their pet, but leaving an old cat for five months with someone who didn't notice the massive weight loss and let him get that sick was a mistake. Meeno might well have had a few good years left in him. Sometimes in life you have to leave your pets with other people--but jeez, you gotta pick good people and stay up to date on the animals' condition.
posted by Scram at 7:00 AM on March 10, 2013

I think it was Kinky Friedman who said that when you die and get to heaven, the very first thing you see is all the pets you ever owned running up to meet you.

If they'd told me that in Sunday school instead of "animals don't have souls, they don't go to Heaven," I might not have become an atheist quite so early.
posted by Squeak Attack at 8:24 AM on March 10, 2013 [5 favorites]

Seriously. Also, if they had kept in that Infant Jesus book of the Bible that had the dragon taming in it. I would totally have been more interested in Dragon Taming Jesus.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:57 AM on March 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

On September 5, it will be twenty *years* since I had to euthanize my Arabian horse. He was my child's pony, my dream; he would whinny and gallop to me when I called him; I could ride him with no bridle or saddle.

He still comes in dreams - sometimes in dreams of guilt and grief, with his red coat staring and his hipbones sharp as a fence. But sometimes, more often, he comes as himself, young and swinging out his white-stockinged legs in the sunshine, his eyes full of his own funny bright gladness.

I love those dreams because when I twist my hands in his orange mane and lean into him, I can remember his smell.
posted by rdc at 9:13 PM on March 10, 2013 [5 favorites]

ilana: "Losing the last childhood pet is unbearably painful. It certainly ends any illusions that you might still be a child."

Oh, yes. After my mother died, I took in her cat Cosmo, who became my heart-cat. (Mom used to say, "You love every cat, of course. But every now and then you get a cat who's your heart-cat.") It was hard when he died. And then two years later, when Nemo (my cat, whom she'd loved) died, it felt like the last non-human connection I had to her was gone.

And now Bella is annoyed at me for getting tears on her fur. Sorry, beast.
posted by Lexica at 10:23 PM on March 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

I've also lost a cat to kidney failure. I'll never ever forgive that vet for not keeping the office open another half hour so I could say good-bye to him before he was euthanized. Never.
posted by deborah at 10:52 PM on March 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Thank you for the encouraging words, Empress. I'm back in bed again, Nigel tucked up against the laptop, front feet arranged over my arm. Sometimes this favoured position makes it difficult to type, but right now I'm not too bothered...
posted by jokeefe at 11:49 PM on March 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

The story reminds me of how my husband felt when we had to put down his cat 2 years ago. He went through a life time of changes when he had her. The final was when he captured a picture of our son crawling over to her to kiss her head. He loved that cat (he still loves all animals). Our cat died of kidney failure too and we were doing daily multiple sub-cue fluids. I told my husband that I would not tell him when to put the cat down but this is no life. He was ready a week later. Our vet (whom he used to work with) came to the house and I never witnessed such a thing. I honestly told him I wasn't sure how I could be there to witness it. But I stayed. I was more curious and felt obligated. While she wasn't my cat, she was our cat in our home. It was peaceful. We still have her ashes.

Our biggest anxiety is our senior dog, 15, whose hip dysplasia is getting bad. That dog is our son's biggest and best friend. I am so suprised that our 4 year old remembers that cat and remembers my mom (who passed last year) and given the reaction he has to them both passing, he will not handle this dog's death well. None of us will.

You know what you're getting into the moment you take in your cuddle love. And all you can do is give it the best life possible. With that, death seems to be much easier.
posted by stormpooper at 9:55 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

« Older Art in the Tumblr age   |   Maha Kumbh Yatra Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments