Posted by: brianc74 | January 5, 2011

Not Ready To Say Goodbye…

I wish I had a pic…


I’m a simple man. I have simple tastes, goals, wants, needs, and even emotions. I often joke to myself that I have two emotions: humor and anger. Unfortunately there’s another very simple emotion that I do everything I can to avoid. In fact I go to such great lengths to avoid it that I often find I’ve created walls around me to protect myself. But every once in a while those walls are breached and heartbreak sets in…


More than disappointment. More than sadness and despair. Heartbreak is the emotion that makes your eyes well with tears, your throat clench as you try to speak, and as the name implies makes your heart feel as if it has shattered into a thousand pieces.

It’s the emotion I felt when my first girlfriend, Heather*, broke up with me. It’s the emotion I felt when my wife said no to my first marriage proposal. It’s what I felt when my grandfather died and again when my grandmother died. It’s what I felt last night…

Smokey and Peaches

Almost ten years ago I got two cats. Smokey and Peaches were two cats from a litter of four. They were the grandkitties of an orange tabby cat named Gizzy (Gizmo) that my wife grew up with. She loved that cat and we had recently bought a home and wanted a couple of those cats.

Peaches was my pick. She’s a yellowish-orange cat that was the most adventurous of the bunch. Nothing seemed to scare her and she was curious about everything. Ironically she also quickly became the most timid and refused to come out when we had guests over.

Smokey was my wife’s pick. He’s a grey cat that quickly became the dominant of the two and gained weight twice as fast as Peaches due to his muscling in on the cat dish.

Over the years I became the dominant care giver of our cats. I fed them. I cleaned up their litter. I brushed them. I played with them. And of course I cleaned up all the puke. Seriously, can you two stop hurling half your food? And chew it for the love of all that’s holy!

My wife has played with them less and less as she became annoyed with the constant cat hair on her clothes, the constant puking, the smell of the litter, and all the other things that come with owning a pet. That’s not to say that she doesn’t love them, but it goes without saying that of the two of us I’m the one that’s more attached.

The Signs

Looking back the signs slowly appeared, but at the time they were minor. A few months ago we noticed that Smokey was unable to jump up on the bed. He would attempt the jump, almost make it, and fall off. We would sit and laugh that he had gotten so fat he couldn’t make it anymore.

He used to track me down as soon as I got home, but recently he only finds me when I am in the kitchen. He knows full well that I’ll fill his dish for him if he does. Then about a month ago I noticed he started limping. I had recently tripped over him in the dark and was worried I had hurt him.

A few weeks ago my inlaws came to visit. The very night they got there, Smokey peed on one of the suitcases. I chalked it up to stress from strangers. But after they left he not only starting urinating on blankets, carpet, rugs, etc. he also started to defecate as well.

At first we thought he might be stressed from the holidays or the new baby, but his limp started to get worse and I wondered if they weren’t related. So I took him to the vet last night.

At The Vet

I had slowly prepared myself for the worst, but I wasn’t ready to put him down. He’s my cat! But I also don’t have a lot of money and taking care of a sick animal can be very expensive. So I dreaded the visit, but I needed to find out what was wrong.

A quick exam revealed nothing. No temperature, so obviously no infection. But it was obvious to the vet that Smokey was becoming lame in his hind legs and unable to control his urination and bowel movements. Although the vet recommended a blood test, he also admitted that he didn’t expect it to reveal anything. An X-ray could reveal an injury that might explain it, but the vet also suspected that it was probably a bad disc putting pressure on the spinal cord or spinal cancer, both of which wouldn’t show on an X-ray.

I don’t have money to pay for expensive treatments to get an MRI/catscan, chemotherapy, etc. So the practical side of me argued that paying for X-rays, blood tests, and other treatments only to have surgeries, medications, and other items I couldn’t afford would be a waste of money.

Another side of me was falling apart. I called my wife to let her know it would be $500 just to do X-rays and blood tests and that was without medications, surgeries, etc. But I could barely talk. Tears welled up in my eyes and I felt my heart break as I couldn’t deal with the idea that I might have to put my cat down. The guilt tore me apart.

Not Ready To Say Goodbye…

Smokey’s an older cat now. He doesn’t have many years left, but I want whatever is left. This whole thing snuck up on me. I wasn’t prepared for it. I wasn’t ready to deal with it. But at the same time I have a new baby and I can’t have a cat urinating and defecating all over the carpet where the baby is going to learn to crawl soon. Let alone the rest of us having to live in it.

So after an torturous hour of holding and petting my cat, I finally decided to pay for the X-rays at least. The 30 minutes of waiting was even worse as I prepared myself for the devasting news that would let me know that euthanizing my cat was the way to go.

I slowly prepared myself to make that decision.

But I wasn’t ready to say goodbye! So when the X-rays came back with nothing conclusive, I struggled with the decision and the guilt overcame what some would call the rational decision. Instead I chose the option to give him a cortizone shot would should hopefully alleviate any pressure on his spinal cord or even reduce the swelling of a lymphoma should it be spinal cancer. It is our hope that he will get control of his faculties again. But it isn’t a permanent solution as each shot will be less effective than the previous one.

But I have my cat for a while longer. And if he doesn’t get better at least now I have the time to say goodbye. I woke up twice during the night and heard him using the litter box both times, so my hope for his recovery is increasing. If not, I will find the time to enjoy what time he has left and make his life as comfortable as possible. But I’m not ready to say goodbye…

*Who to be honest I’ve never gotten over. I may not be in love with the woman she is now, but I’m still in love with the girl she was.



  1. I’m so sorry. I lost a cat this summer and it’s hard. I’m glad there’s palliative care available so you can have some more time with him, pee-soaked as it may be.

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