"So yesterday, we saved him the trouble."
November 18, 2013 1:13 PM   Subscribe

Hat Mode. I love it.

A very sweet eulogy indeed.

Sometimes I get the notion that, once my own dowager cat finally decides to lumber grumpily over the Rainbow Bridge, I'd like to start adopting exclusively older cats. Because they have so much soul, such complex personalities. And they need it, unlike their instantly marketable kitten counterparts. My partner thinks I'm just consigning myself to a never-ending parade of vet bills for cats with which I haven't had the lifetime of bonding to compensate; I still think about it, though.
posted by mykescipark at 1:26 PM on November 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

Aw. This makes me want to hug our terrible inherited cat.
posted by Artw at 1:33 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I really do not like reading this kind of thing, although I always read them, because I have come to realize that I have started worrying every day about how I am going to handle it when our little cat dies, even though she is only four and the vet seems to think she's doing all right, and I don't want to spend the next X years [at least ten! please! fifteen or sixteen for preference!] thinking every day about how sad I'll be when she's gone.
posted by Frowner at 1:37 PM on November 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

The saddest thing about that was the way Chip came into his life:
The day after I said yes I saw Chip’s Human rolling a dolly full of personal effects past my living room window. Chip ran in his wake, mewing piteously: what’s going on where are you taking all my stuff where are we going what’s happening why won’t you talk to me? That two-legged asshole never slowed, never looked back. The service elevator closed behind him and Chip was alone.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:38 PM on November 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

Ugh, this is hard to read. Our own cat has been sliding down-hill since Summer. The vet can't find anything wrong, but he's lost so much weight. I've braced myself for that day I come home to find him dead, but I'm sure it won't matter when that day finally comes.
posted by Eddie Mars at 1:43 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I went and gave Old Lady Cat some skritches for just still being here. She celebrated her 15th birthday in September and is in fine health, except we think she has diabetes (she's getting tested for it tomorrow). She's just an amazing ball of Evil Cat and we've been together since before I got married so when she's gone--her brother left me too soon a few years ago--I don't know what I'm gonna do.
posted by Kitteh at 1:47 PM on November 18, 2013

I'm not going to read this, as I have a 14 year old cat who I'm awaiting lab results on. Probably thyroid, probably $1000 or so to treat with surgery or I-131, and she probably has several years in her still. But it's hard not to worry.
posted by Foosnark at 1:48 PM on November 18, 2013

My troublesome, neurotic, constantly-underfoot dog gets more than enough tummyrubs without this sort of maudlin stuff appearing on the internet, thanks.

posted by Sing Or Swim at 1:51 PM on November 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

Oof - two of my three middle aged cats aren't as healthy as we'd like these days - I dread what I know is coming– hopefully not for a few more years. To offset the sorrow of that essay I offer you this piece of silliness for all of us who are some cat's staff.
posted by leslies at 2:03 PM on November 18, 2013 [6 favorites]

I clicked that, knowing I shouldn't read it: one of my going-on-15 cats has cancer (inoperable, likely terminal in another two or three months), and her brother has developed something that, so far, is just inconvenient. Sigh.
posted by thomas j wise at 2:22 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yesterday I pulled out my winter coat for the first time since the last cold spell, and scattered across its wool was a hundred short brown hairs. I remembered too late that the last time I'd worn it was when we took our dog on her final car ride to the vet. It's the little reminders that sneak up and suckerpunch you.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 2:52 PM on November 18, 2013 [9 favorites]

It takes some skill to be both sentimental an unsentimental all at the same time without it coming across as forced. For me, this guy managed it. That got to me. Now where has my own damned fuzzbot got to? Come here and be hugged, damn your furry little ears.
posted by Decani at 2:53 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Cats don't live as long as we do. I've lived through the old age, decline, and death of many. That last was Becca last summer. I no longer worry about how long they are going to last: they are going to die, all of them. Instead, I enjoy them. Right now I have Sugar, the gimpy stray with the missing fang, who owns the house, and Comma, the obese pillow who adores my husband. And they're going to die too. But then, so am I :) What the heck.
posted by Peach at 3:08 PM on November 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

I knew it would be a bad idea to read that, given my own Princess Fluffypants (not her real name) is going through liver cancer and I don't know how much longer she will be around to give me head boops and tell me off for my inadequacies as her staff. Probably only weeks. But I read it anyway, and started dripping when I saw the picture with no kitty in it. And this bit pretty much broke me:
And entropy wins again, and now the universe is a little less complex, a little poorer. There are a billion other cats out there, and thousands more being born every day. It’s good that things die— I keep telling myself this— because immortality would deny hope to all those other creatures who need a home, only to find there is no room at the inn. But there are so many degrees of freedom, even in such a small furry head. So many different ways the synapses can wire up, so many different manifestations of that unique wiring. There are a million other fuzzbots, a million other bright-eyed puffy patchy white cats, but there will never be another Chip. That part of the universe is over now, and as always, I can’t help but miss it.
Man I really wish I were home now, trying to persuade her to eat something or giving her scritches or even watching her sleep. So little time we have them in our lives.
posted by Athanassiel at 3:13 PM on November 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

My kitty was almost 11 when I adopted her...she's almost 13 now. No one who sees her would guess she's that old, including several vets - they all say she looks closer to 7 or 8. She certainly yowls like she's in the prime of her life, especially when I'm trying to sleep. The previous owner had her for ten years, and most of her teeth have been removed, and she doesn't move a whole bunch except to climb anew into my lap if I have the temerity to move from the couch to the computer chair or something, and she's loving and lovely and self-righteous and clingy and just the best, ever. So even though she's totally healthy right now, every time she sneezes or walks a little funny (likely from sleeping too much, the lazybones) I tense up, waiting for the shoe to drop. Bah. These little furballs get their claws into our hearts and they just don't let go. Nor would I want them to.
posted by Phire at 3:13 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Goodbye, you dumb troublesome expensive cat. You were worth every penny, and so very much more

That could be the epitaph for every cat. They put you in your place, then steal your heart and you are never the same. Thanks for the link.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 3:14 PM on November 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

No time for tears; it's time to inject my cranky, ungrateful, diabetic cat with breathtakingly expensive recombinant insulin...
posted by BrashTech at 3:24 PM on November 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

We lost both Kitty Michaels and Grey Cat (ages 18 and 19) last year within about six weeks of each other. I cried every day for three or four months.

Grey Cat had a sudden death after a life with nary a medical problem. She died of intestinal lymphoma - the same thing that claimed Kitty. Grey Cat's lymphoma was sudden and terrifying - healthy on a Wednesday, gone the following Tuesday. Kitty's was a long, slow process.

They tell you that you'll know when its time. There was no question with Grey Cat - she couldn't eat, couldn't poop and started swelling up due to the bile that started gathering in her stomach. Kitty was a different story. He wasted away slowly and we finally knew it was time when he fell over in his litter box late, late one night and howled for who knows how long woke up and found him. We cleaned the litter off of him and said goodbye to him two days later.

Even then he didn't want to go. I remember them giving him the sedative and he looked at me, his favorite thing in the whole world, and reached out a paw an howled. I held him as he dozed, before the final show, and told him I loved him and that he wasn't going to be suffering anymore - he purred softly for the first time in over a week. After he went, I picked up his lifeless body and it promptly voided his bladder all over me.

I'd tried to give him one perfect day between the little box incident and the final car ride. I can't really describe it right now without losing my composure at work. He really did have a nice last day, though.

For the last last four or five years of his life, he got a medicine in his ear for his hypothyroidism. For his last year, he was on a steroid pill and this gross blue cancer suppressant. I used every trick I knew to get him to take those pills and when I'd exhausted my bag of them, I decided to opt for quality of life (i.e. meals and treats) over forcing him to take pills when it was just slowing something. His last two months were filled with feasting and cuddling. My wife says the reason he lasted so long was that he was living the good life and didn't want to go.

Sometimes she says he just didn't want to go because he loved me so much.

Oh, I loved those cats - the cheap one and the expensive one were equally dear, but Kitty is always going to be that special pet that I expect to see bounding towards me when I die.

We didn't want new cats, but love is a strange thing and when we decided to foster cats, it was probably inevitable that three adults - Moose, Tobi and BB - came into our lives forever. They're all young adults, but we found we could foster kittens and bare to see them adopted by other families, but we fell in love with all the adults that came into our house.

Today, BB was diagnosed with some sort of allergy that might require a lifetime of pills or shots. She's not yet two, so I figure we have at least 15 years of expensive medicine in her future.

More if we're lucky.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:39 PM on November 18, 2013 [9 favorites]

Right there with you BrashTech. Sixteen year old Sonic gets insulin twice a day. Injections are much easier than trying to give him Glipizide tablets. It took too long and two vets to get his treatment squared away and in the mean time neuropathy set in and now he walks on his hocks with his rear legs splayed out. It's sad to see him grow old. I'm 52 and he's the only pet I've ever owned. I'm gonna miss the critter when he's gone.
posted by Grumpy old geek at 3:42 PM on November 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

My baby Laudine (who is 12 if she's a day) is currently at the vet with fatty liver, prognosis unclear. I needed to not read that or this thread, but I'm not sorry I did. Excuse me while I go find some tissues.
posted by immlass at 3:49 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hey Joey, I don't need to be crying in front of my computer. My cat helped me ride out the depression I had as a teen when I didn't even know it and she was acknowledged by anyone who visited us at home as the ruler of the place. She was the sweetest cat and would cuddle right after scratching my arms when I tried to help her groom herself every summer (don't eat your hair, silly furball). At times she adopted a vegeterian diet (mum's plants), she was the best wasp trap (thanks, cat) and she was waiting behind the door every time I returned home except for the last time. Poor cat's liver gave in while I was away and died shortly after she was diagnosed. Stupid cat. Best fucking cat. I swear I found some familiar hair last time I wore an old coat.

I love cats.
posted by ersatz at 3:58 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

This section of Laurie Anderson's farewell to Lou Reed feels relevant here, and not just because I've been thinking about it non-stop since it was published:
I was holding in my arms the person I loved the most in the world, and talking to him as he died. His heart stopped. He wasn't afraid. I had gotten to walk with him to the end of the world. Life – so beautiful, painful and dazzling – does not get better than that. And death? I believe that the purpose of death is the release of love.
That last line is so moving to me...all of us are both dynamos and batteries, creating love to give to others and storing the love we receive. And when we die, the raw materials of the love we've saved up is released back out into the world, to be generated and then given out again.

I know, Andersen said it better in one sentence than any of my paragraphs ever could. My point is just that cats--all pets, really--are engineering marvels. They're little fuzzy fission reactors and lithium ion batteries: so small, but with the ability to give out and hold an amount of love that far exceeds their size.
posted by Ian A.T. at 4:10 PM on November 18, 2013 [8 favorites]

I'm not going to read this now. I'm going to go home and find my eldest kitten who gifted me bad diarrhea this morning and is getting sub-q fluids every day along with smelly awful kidney safe medicine. If you told me I'd be willing to sit there and jab this little fuzzball every morning, I don't know if I'd have believed you.

Stupid 17 year old cat - you were supposed to live forever. Now it's clear, I won't have her for much longer, but at least she can join her brother and say "see, wuss, I outlived you with the same stuff!"
posted by drewbage1847 at 5:28 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've been reading MetaFilter for 7 years and somehow I've managed to miss all those previous posts on Peter Watts' blog and now I'm going to have to spend all day today reading them.

I'm sorry he lost his cat but wow what a great writer he is.
posted by misozaki at 6:14 PM on November 18, 2013

I've been reading MetaFilter for 7 years and somehow I've managed to miss all those previous posts on Peter Watts' blog and now I'm going to have to spend all day today reading them.

+++ WARNING Pus volcano WARNING +++
posted by Artw at 7:15 PM on November 18, 2013

+++ WARNING Pus volcano WARNING +++

Heh, too late!

Seriously though, that and the zombie pigeon and his run-in with the US border police... Are his novels as interesting as his life?
posted by misozaki at 7:54 PM on November 18, 2013

I'm a fan of Blindsight. And his The Thing fan fiction.

His story Malak (audio) is outstanding.
posted by Artw at 8:54 PM on November 18, 2013

Baby White was a rescue kitten, and she's resentfully been transitioned into a full-time indoor cat. She's been through a lot, from back when she couldn't be kept in full-time (no-pets rule at the apartment, and yeah, she's one of the biggest reasons we ended buying a house in a country overrun with no-cat rules). She had a massive abcess on her flank. She had worms burrowing through her face til all the hair came off.* She's easily spooked, and the sound of plastic bags crumpling terrifies her, which makes me think something must have happened to her during one of her month long disappearances when she was younger. She can't stand other people, and will only cuddle with me. If someone she doesn't know comes to the house, or the doorbell rings, she'll bolt for the bedroom.

At some point, I saw something that said the average lifespan of a stray is three years. Baby is almost nine now, and the vet says she's doing okay, but she wheezes like an old man, and she's always been so skinny. She's also the cat that got me back into having a cat, after a childhood made pretty awful by the excess of cats in our house. Until Baby, I had pretty much decided I'd never keep a cat again.

I'm hopeful I've got a lot of time left with her, but I already feel lucky for all the years I've been allowed. When she goes, I'll be a goddamn wreck. For now, though, it's getting to be winter, and that's the time of year she comes up to the bedroom and lies down next to me under the blankets.

*The fun part was that the vet told us those worms had no problem with jumping from cats to humans, which involved a sudden, panicky trip to the laundromat and washing all the blankets and sheets on hot.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:46 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

My brash, troublemaking and handsome dog of a dozen years died in June.

And entropy wins again, and now the universe is a little less complex, a little poorer.

So much.
posted by qinn at 12:10 AM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

So this is where people with old, sick or recently deceased pets gather? Alright then. *sits down*

My cat Tigger is 17 now. He's been through a lot: had a finger amputated due to bone cancer, had his overactive thyroid removed, got locked inside a shed for 11 days. He lived through it all. He's black and sleek and knows how not to get run over. He's been my shadow ever since he was 1 and I got him from a shelter.
Now it seems that he's not going to last much longer; he was recently treated for an infection in his airways and by last Friday, he was so thin and frail it seemed that he could not possibly recover. Just fur and bones. I spoonfed him cat milk. He was too weak to eat.

Saturday morning he peed on our bed. It seemed like a bad sign. We kept on keeping on with the milk. He ate a tiny bit of very soft mushy food, a cat equivalent of chicken soup or porridge.
But look! Sunday came and he was still with us. Ate a bit more of the soft food. Sunday evening, we gave him some chopped salmon and he actually showed an interest in food again. He was also getting more active and responsive.

It's Tuesday and it seems he is slowly, slowly regaining some strength. He also seems calm and happy. He purrs whenever he sees one of us. He sleeps a lot.
Maybe he is recovering. He's certainly trying.

So who knows? My old friend may make it into the new year yet. As long as he seems comfortable, we'll keep going. This is him, my brave little hero with the nine fingers, the mighty hunter of mice.

Best wishes to all old sick pets and their worried owners. Please send a gentle thought of healing to my Tigger, he's still so very frail. I'll do the same for you all.

Oh, and that was a great eulogy. Thanks for posting. And pass the tissues, please.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:18 AM on November 19, 2013 [7 favorites]

I had a tigger. He was a barn kitten, and became a fat house cat. He was there for me throughout a rough childhood. He loved to go out to the front steps as elementary school kids were on their way home because they'd stop and give him belly rubs. I taught him to sleep on my pillow, which was a mistake. I'd fall asleep with Tigger wrapper around my head like and extra blanket, but wake up with my head off the pillow, under a happy cat.

He passed away while I was away at college. He was seventeen or eighteen. He was an awesome, loving cat all the way until the end. He was a solid friend, always cuddling, always understanding.

Tiggers make the best cats. We only get one (because reusing a cat name is unfair to both of them), so we need to make our Tiggers count.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:14 AM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

My cat had sudden kidney failure, out of nowhere earlier this month; just had him put to sleep last week.

This is a lovely thing to read.
posted by maus at 6:33 AM on November 19, 2013

Reading this and all your comments makes me want to hug my two cats and my baby all at the same time. My cats--sisters--are almost 7 now, and one has already had bladder stone surgery. I hope they live forever. What gets me now is thinking about how old the baby will be when they die, and how he will have known them his whole life. Breaks my heart to think about.
posted by apricot at 7:21 AM on November 19, 2013

Owning a beautiful, loving dog only three years old WHICH IS ONLY, LIKE, 1% OF HIS EXPECTED LIFETIME AND IN NO WAY IS THERE A CHANCE HE WILL DIE BEFORE ME, I refuse to read this.

Oh, look! My professional work is suddenly calling me away from The Blue...
posted by IAmBroom at 1:52 PM on November 19, 2013

We had to put Laudine to sleep this morning. The vet thinks there was cancer and that was why she stopped eating (a cause of the fatty liver syndrome). She was fighting for breath last night and I was thinking about Chip while I heard her struggle. It's so hard to let them go, but it's the right thing to do instead of letting them suffer.
posted by immlass at 8:28 PM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

immlass, I'm so sorry for your loss. Yes, it's very hard, but I'm sure you did the right and loving thing.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:18 PM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

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