Look. This is going to be a mushy post. About a cat. If you don’t like it, don’t read it, and especially don’t comment. I’m not particularly interested in your disapproval right now.
About eight years ago, I was living in Toronto in the basement of the mother of my boss. My roommate at the time had a cat, Casey, a big bruiser of a tom, but rescued another — a kitten she found at a shelter, who as it turns out was the runt of her litter.
Molly was a very tiny cat, and even full grown, still looked about half Casey’s size. She was very skittish around people at first, and pretty much refused to be picked up. Ever. She adored having her tail pulled though. When you pet her, she’d turn around and practically demand that the pet run all the way down the length of her tail, when she’d coo and turn around and ask for more. She’d hardly cared for much more socialization than that though, and spent much of her time hiding or sleeping on tall things.
When my roommate and I both left Toronto, she left first, and I sort of inherited the cats for what was supposed to be a short time. She quickly started seeing someone who was very badly allergic to them though, so she asked me to keep them. By that point, I’d grown attached, so I accepted the responsibility.
I’ve had them every place I’ve lived since then, including when Jodi and I got an apartment together. Molly didn’t go into her first heat until she was almost three years old, just after we’d moved in together. She changed from a very silent cat, to a fairly vocal one, even after we had her fixed. We introduced Jodi’s dog Ginger to our family. Molly was terrified of Ginger at first, but we eventually started catching them sleeping balled up on the couch together. Molly had mostly come out of her shell, but really only to Jodi and I. She still backed away from visitors — and Jodi’s friend Sara especially, given that she had a propensity for picking up and molesting cats.
Over the years, Molly developed some interesting and adorable quirks. If you say her name — her pet name, “Kitten”, or her real name, “Molly”, she’d trill in response, or come over to see what was up or if there were pettings. She developed a fondness for plastic, though she’d usually lick it more than bite. Packing tape, plastic bags, whatever was handy. But she especially loved wrappers from those individual cheese string snacks. She’d steal those right from the garbage if she could.
She also took to running laps — when she got into a mood, she’d simply sprint up and down the house, making that adorable trill noise when she started, often launching from what seemed like a dead calm stop. She’d stop to come visit for pettings if I called to her. Casey had, lately, now that we’d gotten him to lose a lot of weight, taken to racing with her, wrestling with her, trying to ambush her when she ran by. He was never very good at it — she could move like lightning.
Any time I was leaning forward on the couch, or standing near enough to someplace she could climb, she would hop up on my shoulder and simply sit there. If I said “hey, if you’re going to ride around on me you’ll have to pay the toll”, she’d trill to acknowledge that I was talking to her. If I’d then make a kissy noise, she’d lean her head into my face to pay the kiss toll. She’d sometimes proceed to rub her face on the corner of my glasses. The whole thing sounds like projection of my interpretation of events, but that’s exactly how it went. Exactly like that, every few weeks, for many years.
And when I put my feet up in the recliner, it was literally seconds before, no matter where she was prior, she’d hop up and take her spot laying on my crossed shins. Not my lap, because that’s usually where my laptop was when I was in the recliner, but she’d go for the lap instead if it was unoccupied. And pretty much only when my feet were up. It was like her signal to come splat.
On Monday night, despite having had a full day of playing and silliness, she started vomiting that night. She vomited through most of the next day, acting wobbly and lethargic and barely finding energy to crawl onto my lap. She was completely uninterested in food or water. I had an overnight, and she laid splatted on the couch beside me. She still responded to pettings and to her name, but wouldn’t move around much, nor would she try any of the food or water I tried to give her.
We took her to the vet yesterday morning at 8 am, as soon as they opened. They gave her an X-ray to see if there were any blockages, but there weren’t. She hadn’t eaten a cheese string wrapper, as was my initial thought. They did notice that one of her kidneys was malformed — extremely shrunken. The next test they did was to check her blood. What they found was that she was in full renal failure — her blood urea nitrogen count was so high, their machine couldn’t read it.
Her kidneys, malformed as they were, were probably working overtime her entire life to keep up with the workload. Her being the runt of the litter, this sort of thing was terribly unsurprising. And it meant that our options were extremely limited. We could try to keep her alive for a few days to flush her kidneys, keeping her in pain the whole time. Even if that worked — and the prognosis was very dim — she’d have to have daily subcutaneous injections of drugs to keep her alive thereafter. She’d probably never run around again being a fool like she always had, we’d have to keep a close eye on her diet and her lifestyle despite both of us working fulltime jobs, and we couldn’t just hand off duties to someone when we travelled.
I made the decision that it wasn’t fair to her to try to put her through hell for any longer than was necessary out of selfishness, that we had to euthanize her. Right up to the last, she’d taken pettings from me and responded to her name, even through the obvious pain, even while trying desperately to hide from the big bad doctor who kept running tests on her and drawing blood and what have you.
The euthanasia took her quickly. The vet asked if I would like some time with her. But she was already gone… all that was left was meat and fur. I couldn’t bear to touch her after she was gone. It was too much.
She was my cat. She loved and trusted me, and I feel like I was forced to betray her at the end. I wish there was more we could have done for her. I miss her so terribly.