We had to say goodbye to our last cat Misha yesterday. We lost her sister Misty in September of last year – two days before we moved house. We wondered at the time how Misha would cope alone, as the two of them had always been together. The house move probably helped all of us – we had too many things to do to dwell on the loss of Misty, and there were no memories of her in the new house. For a while Misha seemed a bit lonesome, but she seemed to settle quickly into the house. In fact she became a much more outgoing cat. It had always been Misty who had been the one to come down and socialise when we had visitors. After she died, Misha became much more sociable.
But by the time Misty died Misha was old, and I always feared she was living on borrowed time. Most pedigree cats don’t live beyond 14. Misha was only half pedigree, but she was approaching her 17th birthday.
It was about March I started to realise something was wrong. Misha was drinking an awful lot. She was drinking water wherever she could find it. Out of the glass I keep by the side of the bed at night. She was even drinking the filthy water from the pot Hubby washes his paint brushes in. I took her to the vet and was told she was in the early stages of kidney disease. Not uncommon in elderly cats, but sadly there is no cure. She was put on a prescription diet of low-protein food and I was told to bring her back in two months.
Over the last few weeks, she had degenerated rapidly. She stopped eating, getting about seemed to be an effort, and it appeared she was unable to retain fluid. She would sit for hours with her face in her water bowl because she was feeling so dehydrated. Yet she would still jump in my lap and start purring when I stroked her.
I took her back to the vet, who ran more blood tests. She rang me with the results on Thursday. Results were all off the scale, the vet said. The poor cat had so many toxins in her body she was unable to function normally. I was at my desk at work when the call came. I had to leave the office and find a quiet room to cry in.
The problem with being a pet owner is that eventually you have to say goodbye. Knowing that Misha was suffering the only humane solution was to put her to sleep. To keep her alive without proper kidney function would probably mean she would die slowly and painfully from acute dehydration, or worse. Deciding to terminate her life was still one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, though.
We took her to the vet for the final time yesterday – a Saturday. Because I couldn’t bear the thought of coming back home with an empty cat carrier, I carried her in my arms in the car, while Hubby drove. She’d never been in the car untethered before, and after a week of lethargy this new experience suddenly perked her up. Adrenaline, perhaps. I’m convinced she knew she was dying, and in her last couple of days she seemed calm, and accepting of her fate, even through the discomfort she was suffering.
Misty died very suddenly. With Misha, we picked the time the end was to come. In some ways it was harder. There’s more time to cry.
When I was growing up, we always had cats in the house, but Misty and Misha were the first two I had total responsibility for in my adult life. The first cats I took from kittenhood to old age. And now, for the first time in 17 years, I find myself living in a house without cats in it. It feels very strange. Filling the cat bowls with food and water is no longer a part of the morning routine. There are no plaintive ‘meows’ to greet me when I come in from work. No furry body leaping on my lap when I sit down to watch TV.
I used to say that when my cats died I wouldn’t get any more – they are really not good for my asthma. But I am a Cat Lady, through and through. A house without cats just doesn’t feel like home.
There will be more cats in the house before too long, I hope. But I will never forget my two fluffballs Misty and Misha.