Thursday, September 17, 2009

Watching a Cat Die

As I sit here and type, Bob is settled in next to me. Bob is on his last legs. Bob is dying. Bob has been a companion of ours for I guess 14 years. We brought him home from the Kennebunk Shelter as a kitten. Bob lived most of his life outside. He used our house as a place to sleep between adventures and catch a quick meal when his hunting skills let him down. Considering the dangerous environment out there, Bob has done very well.

The first time Bob did not check in for a week, we were sure we had lost another cat. But one morning, there he was, all beat up and looking pitiful on the front porch. He gladly came in, ate until I thought his stomach would burst and then slept for several days. But soon, he was back out again, carousing and raising Hell. Eventually we became used to his prolonged absences. He always came home.

Several months ago, we noticed Bob had lost weight and one eye seemed out of whack. He had no appetite. A vet visit was inconclusive. It could be a bug. It could be his thyroid gland. Kidneys were mentioned. Pills were prescribed.

At first Bob seemed to respond to the medication. He began to eat and gain back some of the weight he had lost. His eye cleared up. That lasted until a couple of weeks ago. Now he is worse than ever and almost blind. His relapse was dramatic and sudden. His health is deteriorating so quickly, every day he is noticeably worse than the day before. Yet, he still cries to go out.

And here is my problem. We want to protect him. By keeping him indoors, I guess we feel we are. Is dying slowly here inside somehow better than the quick death he will have out there in the pucker brush? I cannot help but feel bad over either certainty.

Of course we could take him to the vet and have him put down. Rationaizing that is always easier than dealing with a slow and prolonged process of death right in front of us. He does not seem to be in pain. He does not seem to be suffering. But he is dying. I cannot get past the sadness of losing him to reach the point of making the right decision.

It is almost as if Bob is a kitten again. Seeking comfort in my arms. Purring in my ear and rubbing his head against mine. A circle seems to be closing in on itself. Bob seems okay with it. I sure wish I was.


(441 / 5216)


El Cerdo Ignatius said...

I'm so sorry, Crum.

I wish I knew what advice to offer, but I'm not a cat or dog owner (never have been) so I have no frame of reference. My instinct is to advise you against letting him go outdoors unless you've said your goodbyes and you're okay with not seeing him again. I don't know much about cats, but it sounds like Bob might have trouble getting back again if he went out on a walk-about.

Randal Graves said...

Ugh. My condolences, man. Our cats are all indoor, so I have no experience with your situation. I just hope he goes peacefully, wherever that may be.

PipeTobacco said...


My advice is simply based upon how I would imagine *I* would feel. So, this opinion may be worthless or it may be useful:

My instinct would be to keep him in the house. Letting him go outside to die would likely result in what would seem a more traumatic death. If he is attacked, that would be a harsh way to go. If he were so sick he crawled away to hide and die, then his last moments would be while utterly alone.

In the house, even though he may protest about going out, he can still receive attention. He will not have to feel alone when that time comes.

Again, just my two cents... and they may not be worth that.