This cluttered coffee table is going to drive me to my grave.
He said that. I am not making it up.
Once when Lillie was much younger she went to visit her dad for the summer and he, against my specific instructions, got her a kitten. Not just any old kitten, but a feral kitten, one virtually guaranteed never to mesh with the domestic cats at either his house or mine. Of course Charlie came home with Lillie and, like most of of us do, we tried to make him fit in and feel welcome. Without success. So when she decided to try living there for a school year, I forced her to take Charlie with her so her family there could have as much fun as we'd been having. He was immediately dispatched to a "foster home" where he was "socialized" and eventually placed with a "little old lady". (If she lived "on a farm", the picture would be complete.)
Once again, against my specific, unequivocal instructions, Lillie was given another kitten. I'm aware there was a lot of psychological flotsam and jetsam floating around, and that there were a lot of hurt feelings up ahead, but what did I say when Lillie wanted to cancel the experiment a few months in and move home? Joey must stay behind. Even though I had allowed Annie to bring home Charlotte, a kitty facing execution because she was a female ("and would just get pregnant." Now there's some effective family planning! We had her spayed which is also effective family planning). Next, Annie moved out and adopted still another kitten (she will deny this now, I am sure) which she toted home when she moved back in. This [pregnant] adolescent cat Lucy, much to the utter horror of our resident cats, produced three kittens. That storyline gets even more sordid, but I'll save it and get back to Lillie's cat.
Because I'm so stubborn (!) I made Joey stay with Dad's family, but when they had to...let's say, leave town very quickly in the night, Joey was no longer welcome. So much for stubborn. He came home to our house. He was shy, silent, and unobtrusive from the beginning, except for some peculiar beef with fat old Catch, and drifted around like a large gray shadow for about six years. I've already described his mysterious decline, but this post is about his death. And what I chose, not about what you choose (although I hope you'll at least consider my convictions.)
I've always struggled with the decision to allow a new pet to come into the family because it's so intertwined with the decision to allow that pet to leave. That silky romping smidgen has a price tag. You can't bring him through the door if you can't agree to handle the other end of life with the same commitment. It gets even stickier--how much intervention you can afford, both financially and emotionally--but you have to decide. And then do it. For me--for us; Lillian was the decision maker; I was the operative--it meant trying different food, ruling out simple fixes, and then admitting enough was enough. Today, sweet, skeletal Joey went peacefully to sleep. I knew in my squeezing heart that it was right. No more barfing. I don't know if he was in pain, but it was either avoided or ended. He was free from suffering, or the potential to suffer.
It was my responsibility.
We, fellow fumbling humans, are their stewards on earth. We have thumbs, educations, and resources. Because they can't do it, we must. If it makes us cry, or hurts our hearts and makes us sob and snort in front of the [very sweet] staff at the vet, too bad. It's what we signed up to do, even if we didn't read the fine print at the time.
That's how much a kitten costs.
Joey. He did have feet, see?