Good humor makes all things possible.
-Charles Schultz-

With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.
-Shakespeare-The Merchant of Venice-

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Saint Peter waits for the cat

Chase, last week.  

Our old cat Chase is seventeen and pretty creaky.  He seems to be mostly blind and deaf, and is very thin, but has remained his essentially cheerful and healthy self since we brought him home from a friend's barn all those long years ago.  Last night though, I think he had a stroke.  He had been cuddled near me on the couch until I got up to go to bed, and when he jumped off the couch he just crumpled to the floor, unable to walk.  His front legs didn't work and he couldn't hold up his head.

And I thought, well, I guess we're here.

I made him a little nest on my bed with several towels (because when animals die they usually pee, which I learned after having several sick pets euthanized.)  I was ready for him to die during the night.

Chase and Lottie, last night

But he didn't die.  I woke up in the wee hours to find him cuddled with his other half, Lottie.  He hadn't really moved much.  I couldn't go back to sleep so I got the laptop and browsed away the night.

Chase loves Sam best
My son Sam is in town from Chicago to be in a friend's wedding, and Lillie is attending another friend's wedding as well.  I tried to think of a way to keep from telling them, but I couldn't.

He's very frugal and watches the sales

All day, Chase has lain in his towel nest, his bony chest imperceptibly rising and falling.  I keep warming up his little rice sock and tucking it under his frail, useless legs.  He doesn't open his eyes now; he just stretches his back legs and squirms a little, and then subsides again.  He's peed a bit.

A year or two ago

Once Sam had a hamster that died on my watch while they were all out of town for Christmas with their dad (good job, Punkin), but I can't remember any other pet dying at home.  My first childhood cat, Scrapper, excused herself, at about eighteen years old,  to politely die alone somewhere; and one or two pets disappeared or were hit by cars. (This was in the olden days when all pets wandered at will.) My poor mom got to usher an old dog to heaven while I was away at college.

He actually likes this

I have had four cats euthanized because they were too sick to go on living.  (Those seem like pretty terrible odds but we're talking about half a century of well loved family pets, most of which had long happy lives.) It's undeniably hard, but it's different this time.  Chase is dying of old age.  He will not recover.  It's sort of creepy, but I have a different opinion about dying these days.  Our pets will ultimately die; whether we are prepared or not, whether we do everything in our power to prevent it, or nothing at all.  We are all definitely going to die.

Carson is fascinated by Chase's faucet skills.  

So yes, it's kind of scary.  Death looks terrifying because we are afraid of it, but in reality, most of the time it looks a lot like life.   Except quieter, and more peaceful.  Unlike dead people, dead cats appear to be sleeping.  They don't turn color, or at least not so you'd notice.

Owning the afghan

I made a plan for when Chase finally stops breathing.  I told Lillie we could bury him in the yard, if we could manage to dig a deep enough hole in the hard dirt.  I set the hose to drip on a pretty spot between some nice shady trees.  I picked out an old towel to wrap him in.  I think about Lottie and wonder if she will look for her old friend.  I hope she and Carson (whom she currently loathes) will make peace.


And I wonder how much longer he will float, like a wispy little cloud, between this world and the next.

Almost  famous.  He thought for sure cat-breading would take off.

Lottie as hospice nurse


  1. It is so hard to lose pets. And yet, we know when we get them that we'll mostly likely outlive them. I'm glad Chase is going peacefully.

  2. I really like this piece. And, of course, I love cats. ....Greg.

  3. Oh, that's tough to endure. But we do all die eventually, and the best we can hope for is someone to comfort and love us while we move into that space.
    You're doing real good by Chase.

  4. Beautifully, wistfully, and tenderly spoken, Jenny. I believe that when we acknowledge a being's contribution to our life the universe becomes richer. For "us" human beings, the greatest gift (and sometimes the biggest curse) is the ability to recall memories at will. Thank you for sharing this.

  5. We are just coming up on a year since we let our beloved dog go - I so relate to what you are going through. I was so relieved (and made peaceful) that she was no longer suffering and that she seemed so grateful at the end. All the best.