My cat Molly

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.

My cat Molly

70 thoughts on “My cat Molly

  1. 51

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

    We lost our Lab, Smoky, a few years ago, actually, more like ten, and our experience was much like yours at the vet. His downfall was a fast moving tumor on his spinal cord, and he went downhill fast.

    We took him to the vet once the issue became obvious, and decided to let him go then. He’d only taken a day or two to get from “gee, what’s bothering him?” to where it was obvious he had enough of an issue that the vet was necessary.

    Our daughters still haven’t quite forgiven us for not letting them be there to say good-bye. He is still remembered fondly, and at times like this, it can still bring tears.

  2. 52

    @Jodi #48:

    Casey seems rather bored now but we’re going to make an effort to keep him entertained.

    Two toys my cats have literally loved to pieces:
    – A feathered shuttlecock on a string, dangled from a pole.
    – A draggable leopard-print tail with a bell at the end.

  3. 55

    A little late, but I want to join the others in giving you my condolences. I’ve been there. The speed with which they are gone once the pink stuff hits their brains comforts me. Last year my 21 year old cat was put down after she fell off a bed and broke her hip. My vet spent 15 minutes with me after she died, encouraging me to talk about her, which was a great kindness.

    Just be glad Molly didn’t go off and hide when her kidneys failed. I had a cat do that. It is the down-side of a multi-cat home–they are more likely to do that. When he finally came out he was emaciated and in terrible shape. I felt no betrayal in either case. The only thing ahead for either was pain and death. I removed the pain part. You did that too. That is no betrayal.

    Remember that Casey is missing her too. I know it may seem heartless, but I recommend getting a new cat sooner rather than later. Not as a replacement, there can never be a replacement. But both Casey and you might find some solace in a new companion.

  4. 56

    Jason,

    Very sorry to hear you lost Molly — she sounds like quite a character! Doing the right thing, the unselfish thing, is hard. Hang in there.

    (and now I’m going to find my nearest cat — Mojo’s on the cat tree — and hug him, which he won’t appreciate at all… 🙂 )

  5. 57

    I am so very sorry for your loss. You made an extremely tough decision that was better for her and difficult for you. It sounds like she had a very happy life with you, and I hope that your many loving memories of her bring you comfort.

  6. 58

    As someone who went through pretty sever liver failure before getting a transplant, you did the right thing. There was no betrayal. Some misery just needs to end.

    …and now I’m sad thinking about how my 20 year old can’t have much time left.

  7. 59

    I’m so, so sorry, Jason. Molly sounds liked she was an amazing cat. (One of ours is a plastic-licker too.) She looks almost exactly like my 17-year old babycakes Cinnamon, who is trying to kiss my hands while I type and that’s totally making me cry.

    You did the right thing, and the kind thing. I’m still so sorry for your loss. *hugs if wanted from both Cinnamon and I*

  8. 60

    There was no betrayal involved.

    You gave her a good life, protected her and made her life as rich and comfortable as possible, and made sure she had a quick and painless death. That is as good as it gets when one conscious living thing is doing their best to take care of another.

    When your time comes you will be lucky to have someone look after your interests.

    In the wild cats die cold, alone, in pain, diseased, starving and terrorized by fear. She was lucky for both the life and death you provided.

  9. 61

    I’m so sorry. Molly sounds like a wonderful girl. I’m sure she appreciated her life with you. I just wanted to agree that you should not feel you betrayed her. I had to make a similar decision with my Benny and I felt that way at first. I think it was just the grief. In my heart, I knew I did the right thing for him. Also, my other cat Iris seemed to miss him after he was gone. Maybe Casey is just missing Molly too and senses that her people are feeling the same way.

  10. 62

    Thank you. Thank you all. I really appreciate the support.

    Sorry I couldn’t engage before now. Frankly, I had to walk away from this post after I finished it lest I burst into tears or something. I absolutely had to write it to achieve some catharsis.

    Today’s easier than yesterday was. Tomorrow will be easier still.

  11. 64

    I am sorry about your loss. I’m not a pet person, but I was both touched and saddened by your post. My neighbours had to put down their dog last week due to cancer. She was an nice friendly dog and I will miss her.

  12. 65

    So, so sorry for your loss. It’s a hard decision to make, one I’ve had to make more than once. I was moved to tears by your post. I have 4 cats, but one in particular is to me what Molly was to you. I know what it is to lose a companion and my heart goes out to you.

  13. 66

    Adding condolences for your loss, and sympathies for your pain and grief. I wanted to add though that you did the right thing; as pet owners we’re responsible for giving them good lives with all that entails, including love and affection, care and attachment… and one of those duties is to decide when their suffering warrants taking action to end it. You didn’t cause the suffering, but you did make it stop, and that’s the most you could possibly have done. So please don’t blame yourself or consider it a betrayal. We’d be worse people if we didn’t care deeply about ending the life of a beloved pet.

  14. 67

    No betrayal. You did what you could for an animal that loved you. If you did the same for your sister, you’d be imprisoned for the rest of your life. Compassionate xtians want it that way

  15. 68

    I’m so sorry for your loss. You gave Molly a good life, and helped ease her through the end. You did the right thing. Internet hugs all around – if you and yours want them.

  16. Amy
    69

    What sweet, unique routines we choreograph with each cat–head-bumps, rubs, chirps, games. Our last one, Romeo, liked to be carried in the laundry basket. Late to this post, but thank you for sharing Molly with us.

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