I’ll cut to the chase with no lead up. My oldest cat is dying. Jay and I are taking her to the vet tomorrow to have her humanely euthanized. This decision was as hard as any I’ve ever made. It’s exactly as hard as it was when my Mom was dying of cancer and the decision to not prolong her pain was left to me.
Living in the south, it’s not unusual to hear statements like, “It’s just a cat. You’ll get another one” or “How can you be that attached to an animal?” Believe me. I’ve been grieving for a week now leading up to laying her down to sleep. I have asked myself all the emotionally vacant questions trying to make myself more falsely brave in facing the inevitable. This is Fat Kitteh. Her long name is Fatniss Everdeen, given to her when The Hunger Games became a thing. Fatness for short. She came into my life just about 8 years ago when my best friend, Linda Cox, died unexpectedly from asthmatic asphyxiation. He family members weren’t in a place where they could take Fatniss in, so naturally, I and my partner at the time took her in.
She was a PTSD Kitteh for the longest time because Linda died on a Friday and I discovered her on the following Monday. She didn’t want to socialize and mostly hid in cabinets and little cubbie holes in the old craftsman home we owned in Savannah. She did this hide and go seek kind of thing, only coming out at night to eat, for a about 3 years. In the 4th year, my partner and I broke up and I later moved to North Charleston, SC in the 5th. Fat Kitteh came with me, accompanied by the younger Maine Coon, Rewind and my corgi, Trinity.
After getting settled in my condo in North Chuck in 2013, Fat Kitteh found herself a hidie hole in the form of the cabinet under the sink in the downstairs bathroom and the top of the fridge. In those two places she would stay until I met a nice young lady, Dominique, in August. She answered an ad I had run looking for a roommate.
After Dominique moved in, Fat Kitteh bonded with her pretty quickly. She started coming down from the fridge to share the sofa with Dom. She got more and more social until she just became completely loving again, looking for head scratches and nose boops. It was wonderful! I got to meet this incredible feline for the first time since I’d adopted her in late 2008.
When I met Jay in 2013 and we started dating, he bonded with all three of my fur babies immediately. This bond was strengthened when Jay was hit by a car while crossing the street. He was not majorly injured, but was in a lot of pain and had some bruised ribs. Trinity, Rewind and Fat Kitteh all three got into the bed with him and nursed him all night long. This would be the only time that Fatniss would come upstairs of her own volition.
She had remained a wonderful member of our family. She is sort of the matriarch of my little animal farm too. When Rewind would get out of line, she was quick to go Joan Crawford on her, smacking her across the face. Seeing her run was special too because her belly, mostly a fatty benign tumor, would flop wildly back and forth. For whatever reason, she’s always had poor control of her claws. She frequently gets stuck on furniture and and is unable to extricate herself. This one time, she got her claw stuck in the sofa as she was trying to jump down and wound up dangling. She didn’t howl in pain. She just hung there indignant of the whole experience.
Fat Kitteh is 13 now. About three weeks ago, she stopped eating. I haven’t even been able to entice her with her favorite greasy, canned chicken and liver paté. She’s done this before; the not eating bit, never more than a week. Normally she’d work out what was going on and go on hovering food again. This time was different. After week two, I took her to the vet. They ruled out kidney failure because she continues to drink. It’s not a mouth problem or an esophageal problem. It’s not a stomach problem because she’s not in pain. They wanted to do more tests. After some intense thought and consideration, I opted for pain medication, anti-nausea meds and subcutaneous fluids and I took brought my baby home.
Jay and I have agonized over what to do next. Over the last few days, she has stopped moving more than a foot or two from the nest I built for her using the cat carrier, Jay’s heated throw blanket and some towels. She doesn’t use he litter box anymore. I’m changing the bedding three times per day. After a lot of ugly crying and gigantic amounts of uncertainty, we’re going to let her be freed from the suffering. This is among the hardest decisions I’ve ever made.
I’m inconsolably sad as I write this. I’m also selfishly hesitant in my mind because Fat Kitteh is the last link I have to a friend who was taken from the world way too soon. Losing Linda damn near ruined me emotionally. In my mind though, I know that it’s time. My buddy and my friend, Fat Kitteh, will soon be able to go be with my precious Linda again and all will be right with the universe. Over time, my heart will heal and Jay’s heart will heal. The heartbreak will be replaced with happy memories of my pal, and I’ll continue doing what I do best.