Monday, March 19, 2012

Only a Cat

When I opened my eyes this morning, I was already sad. I couldn't decide if I should stay in bed and delay the day's start, or just get it over with. I'd checked on Pip during the night, at about 3:30, and finding her the same as she'd been earlier I put a blanket over her and cried myself back to sleep.
She's not been herself only for about two weeks now- when we took her to the vet they said she had bad numbers which meant very little kidney function. We took her home with an IV bag and Scott heroically administered subcutaneous fluids every couple of days. Pip didn't like it but was a good and patient soldier. Today she was more draggy than usual- I found her in the corner of the dining room, silently hiding but not out of sight. At her worst, she hides in the very back corner, almost out of reach, but this morning she was where we could find her, and throughout the morning Scott and I took turns sitting with her and telling her we love her.

We made an appointment for 1:30, as we were due at a meeting at work at 11, but since we couldn't stop crying anyway we called out from work and made the appointment earlier. I read up on what happens when you put a cat to sleep, so I could feel more prepared, and after a lovey time together on the dining room floor, we put her in the carrier and took her to the vet.
Her mother, Zarley, is an odd duck- a little bit crazy and also in renal failure, but a little too "special" to feel the effects, I guess. Zarley isn't the empathic type, like Pip was. This morning I came around the corner just in time to see that Pip had gotten to her feet, walked over to where Zarley lay nearby, and put her head down near her. I snapped a fuzzy picture of their last moment together.

At the vet, we were those people you watch in the lobby, crying and clutching their carrier and trying to make reassuring sounds to their cat. The hospital staff knew we were coming, took us in sweetly and treated us with kindness and compassion. Pip went to sleep in my arms, a sweet honor she paid me, letting me hold her in her last moment. She had never liked to be held.
We agonized over what to do with her. We had options, but we chose to bring her home and bury her ourselves. The process was strangely comforting- I was afraid it would be so awful- but it felt honorable, and it feels better to have her near us in some way, rather than the alternative. We can see the spot where we buried her from our windows. Zarley seems a bit confused (but then, she always seems a little bit confused) and Scott and I have wandered around the house sniffling and crying and trying to distract ourselves.
This is St. Joseph's feast day- our own patron saint, who we have always asked to look after our little family. Our tradition is to go to Mass on St. Joe's day, but we missed it today, for the first time in our marriage. We visited a St. Joseph Parish nearby and prayed at the St. Joseph statue, where suddenly I was crying not just for Pip but for our little lost babies- none of whom we met or got to know like we had our Pipper. We cried for all the losses we have felt in our little family, and we prayed for St. Joseph to keep us in his prayerful care.
Now we're back home and trying to stop crying, reminding ourselves that she was only a cat, but holding each other close because sadness is sadness. And we are sad.

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