Am I really blogging about this?
I guess I am.
Tomorrow we have scheduled our Goodbye to our beloved family pet, Milton.
Milton is 14 years old. For those of you keeping track at home, he’s as old as we've been married … we got him right around the time cats are able to leave their mothers. So we say he was born on our wedding day. J
We call him a number of things … rarely Milton. Fuzzbutt, Pook, Pookie, Pookie-no-Paws, etc. But he’s Milton, after the town of Milton, Florida, where
we found him he found us.
I was sad and lonely; we moved to Florida right after we got married and Ian began flight school. Rachel ate Wheat Thins and watched Court TV. A LOT. And Law and Order. *dundun*
One day, while watching television!, we saw a commercial for … I dunno, cat litter or something, which featured an adorable kitten. Ian, an avowed cat-hater, responded to my mopey-sappy face: “Let’s go.” And it was off to the pet store.
Pook was a tiny little fuzz ball who leapt onto my bed and face every morning. He meowed at the backside of the door when Ian left for “work.” He took amazing running leaps after toys and laser pointers, and made a game of flying vertically up to a hand placed on the doorframe at light-switch height … This became an oft asked-for game. He did this funny exercise with the open flaps of cardboard boxes, and ADORED the taste of packing tape.
Ever the patient, resilient, flexible cat, Milton made several plane and car trips – from Florida to Texas by car, from Texas to Pennsylvania by plane, back south by plane … etc, etc. He was so mellow we just plunked him in the backseat in his open carrier where he spent the entire trip. Whenever he accidentally found himself outside, he would travel only a few feet, re-discover that outside is bad, and come running to be let back in, meowing all the way.
He loved to catch and eat bugs. Once he used my brother-in-law as a launch pad to nab a giant mosquito high on the wall in Mississippi (they grow them big down there). Once I had a fly infestation in our house in Norfolk. Pook and a shade-less lamp on the hallway floor made short work of low-flying snacks.
In our Norfolk apartment, he would leap from the bathroom sink onto the shower doors where he would perch, mildly intrigued as we showered. He slept in the in-box, he’d stare for hours at a belligerent squirrel who insisted on taunting him from the window ledge.
He’s been mostly good with the kids, although other peoples’ kids and anyone who dares exceed the 3-pet rule is in mortal danger. He also tends to bite the hand that feeds him. Or the calf, ankle, toe … Ok, so he’s a pesky bugger sometimes. But he's also our "first kid."
I love him dearly. I do.
His kidneys are failing.
He’s not in demonstrable pain today; he greeted me this morning by sitting on me till I tossed him aside to get up. He’s curled up beside me on the couch in pleasant slumber as I type.
But he’s taken to using alternate locations for relieving himself (albeit mostly easily cleaned up, bless him). It’s been a few weeks now, increasing in occurrence. A visit to the vet this week revealed a non-functioning kidney and a quite enlarged one. The beginning of the end.
And so here I sit, with a perfectly “normal,” cat beside me … a loyal companion, a source of joy and comfort for many, many years. There’s nothing WRONG … he’s not choking, or limping, or crying, or peeing blood.
And yet, I've seen pets announce their demise that way. And it’s horrible. For them, and for the family.
So I don’t have anything else to say about this except that I feel like a cruel executioner for having an appointment with the vet in the morning. I know I could extend things by antibiotics and hydration shots. But to what end? Do I need to have a whimpering, lethargic cat to convince me he’s ready to leave?
A friend reassured me: “Letting him suffer just so you don’t have to make the decision isn't nearly as compassionate.”
But I am beyond pained.