Kisu, my 20 ½ year-old cat, died today, October 4, 2013. I still feel very sad and relieved for her more than I feel peaceful. But I think that’s because I just said goodbye a few hours ago when we buried her in my back yard. She had a thyroid condition and I tried medicine but I finally gave up and just let her eat whatever she wanted. She kept losing weight and her daily existence became survival, trying to gobble up enough food. She was barely sleeping and looked weary.
Years ago my vet said that, “You know when an animal needs to die because the dog or cat lose their dignity.” I remember my husky was no longer able to leap into the truck. I began to think about putting him to sleep but instead a few weeks later he, himself, chose to lie down and die under the chinaberry tree in my front yard. At 18 years old.
Today Kisu weighed in at 3.9 pounds. This time I had to decide. Kisu was the tiniest, most delicate cat I had ever had. At her best she only weighed 9 pounds. She had tiny pink paws. She was not that active, as she liked to sleep at least half the day her entire two decades of life. The key to longevity must be deep sleep! LOL But her fierceness in survival was impressive. In the last few months she slowly went blind, which I blindly did not see until several weeks ago. However, within a few days she maneuvered within the house by touching certain objects with her body as she walked by. I never thought she would adjust to so many differences as her body deteriorated. She never cried in pain as she tried to adjust her body in order to nap without feeling her bony structure as she lost weight. In the end, I realized I was unconsciously mimicking her. I was not sleeping much. I kept checking on her every break I had between clients in my office next door. I was feeding her multiple times a day as she lingered near the kitchen. I felt restless and I realized she was not doing well as neither was I! I could feel her discomfort. It was like long ago when my mother was dying. Soon after she departed I was at my doctor’s office because I was experiencing pain near my heart. My doctor said, “Of course, that is because your mother just died of heart failure.” He said it was called “sympathetic pain.” I said to him that it felt real. And he said that it was real.
I really did not want to decide to have my cat die today. I wanted her to go naturally. But she was slowly starving to death. A close friend shared my pain today as we have experienced loss together before and loss only increases our closeness. Life is real. And while we are here we need to smile and laugh and touch and cry. Weeping in pure grief for a loved one is the profound way to honor that being. I wept today.