My Feline, My Friend; Why the Passing of a Fur Friend Can be Harder than the Passing of a Relative

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Miss Molly (the black and white one) suffered from Stage 2 Kidney Failure. At least; that was the diagnosis 2 years ago. She drank water, ate a little bit of food, but held on strong. She was loving, affectionate, and meant everything to our family. But as the preparations for moving became more and more intense, she became more stressed. Yesterday, she threw up over 15 times, drank literally cups of water (only to throw them back up), wouldn’t eat, could barely move, and had a high fever. I rushed her to the vet. There were 2 options and so many “maybes.” IF she had something curable, we may not know from the test result until we were already on the road (we’re military and have a deadline to get where we need to move to). However, since she was already stressed, chances were greater that the move itself would kill her. Since the trip is going to take over 10 days and goes through some very isolated areas; it was clear what needed to be done. I couldn’t let her die in the car; frightened out of her mind, miles from home, with no way to cremate her body. So I decided to let her pass in my arms, purring her gentle song. I have not stopped crying since.

A million things go through your head; did I make the right decision, could she have survived the trip? But in my heart, and according to the vet, this really was the best option. She was very sick, and not necessarily curable. Her kidneys were shutting down and she couldn’t hold down food or water. But that doesn’t mean I don’t find myself, blaming myself. This is one of the ways in which the death of a fur baby can be harder than a relative. I’ve never had to end a relative’s suffering, so I can’t compare those instances. For my own comparison; her death was harder than any natural death I have witnessed. But it is not only that, that makes this feel impossible to deal with.

I think I figured out why I am “taking it so hard.” When I graduated from high school and went off alone to college, I was alone. I had no one. My parents had separated and staying with either of them was not an option. My boyfriend chose a school over 4 hours away, and my friends had scattered. I went into Petco to get a feeding ball for my bunny, and noticed this sweet tuxedo (black and white) cat with black polka dots on her white paws. I giggled and said hello to her. The lady said that she was a stray that had kittens; the kittens had been adopted but she hadn’t. They had been calling her; “Molly.” I looked at her, shivering in her litter box, and knew I had to take her home. She stayed hidden under my bed for 1 month. She would exit the bed to eat and potty while I was at school, and when I returned, she hid again. I talked soothingly to her, sang to her, and treated her like a girlfriend. And on the day of month 2, she came out. Since that day; she has been the most talkative, affectionate, and selfless cat I have ever met.

She lived through 5 dogs, 7 cats, 2 birds, an iguana, a crab, 8 moves, 2 kids, a boyfriend, and a husband. She lay with me over breakups, cuddled with me as I zombied through 2 am feedings, she gave me courage when my husband went off to basic training, gave me confidence when I was alone in the big city. She showed me how to have patience with my kittens (kids), and how to treat naughty boys (the male cat). She slept by my head while I slept, and stayed under the blankets on the couch when I was sick. She nuzzled my hand to remind me not to be angry, and nudged me to remind me to care for others. This is why her death is so impossible to deal with. Because she was not a “pet.” She was a friend, a mother, a grandmother, a confidant, a therapist, a doctor, a part of me.

She stayed with me when others did not. She helped me through things others could not. She never yelled, never blamed me, never turned my problems around on me, or complained about how her problems were worse. She never expected anything in return, but gave all of herself. She’s been with me even longer than my husband has. Whereas other abandoned me to pursue selfish desires, or ignored me in favor of a game (W.O.W.); she stayed with me. Whereas other blamed me for their mistakes, or never let me live down my own; she accepted me for who I was, faults and all. Aside from my husband; NO ONE has been with me as much or for as long as she has. And now; she is gone. My best friend, the one who was there every second of the day, without ever so much as a harsh word or complaint; is gone. Nothing can describe the pain I feel. Nothing can take away this feeling of loneliness; like a piece of myself has been ripped from inside me.

To make matters worse; I am not the only one who is feeling this way. Both of my children have lived their entire lives, with her in them. They have never felt the pain of a loved one’s passing, and it is heart wrenching to watch. My 7 year old daughter deals with it by drawing pictures of her alive, and saying she loves her. But my Autistic 2 and a half year old; I have no idea what is going on in his head. I know he misses her, because she was one of the first signs he learned “kitty.” She would rub against him and he would pet her, every single time (she was VERY affectionate lol). When he was stressed, he would look to her and pet her to ground himself. She would stay downstairs (whereas the other cat spends his life upstairs on the bed). She would lay next to him while he worked (ABA), and he would follow her to the litter box, wait for her to finish, and they would walk back together. She was his best friend. She was his link to the world. She gave him a way to communicate, to show affection, and to learn how to deal with his emotions. Now that we are moving; where does that leave him? His entire world is being turned upside down, in ways other people can’t possibly understand. Autistic people thrive on schedules and routine; now, not only is his house changing, his city changing, his ABA teacher changing, his room changing, and now, his best friend is gone. This seems so cruel, so unbelievably cruel.

Is this pain that I’m drowning from, worth it? Yes, yes it is. The wonderful years she gave me, are worth the pain I am drowning from now. She was wonderful. Do I know what this will do to my poor Autistic son? I have no idea. I have no idea how to help this. Maybe I can work on not crying, before I can help him.

 

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2 thoughts on “My Feline, My Friend; Why the Passing of a Fur Friend Can be Harder than the Passing of a Relative

  1. My cat Judy was my parents’ cat and with them passed away, it feels as if she is the last piece of them I have. I can’t imagine how I will feel whenever her time comes. Right now she is healthy, but she is 15 so it comes on my mind a good bit. I feel for you. Losing animals has always hit me so hard.

    I don’t know how I would compare it to losing a relative. I would say specifically losing my parents was just as hard but in a different way. I was my dad’s in home hospice care, administering his morphine prescription and watching him throw up sherbet and ginger ale. He had kidney disease, matter of fact. It certainly was devastating to witness.

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