Friday, February 29, 2008


I know it’s not my usual “beat” to blog about pets, but I wanted to mention that it’s been a very sad week, because my oldest cat passed away. Her name was Charlene.

She had cancer, and was beginning to have physical difficulties that interfered with comfortable living. I made the difficult decision to have her “put to sleep” by a veterinarian. Even though it was a peaceful, quiet passing, I felt terrible about it.

Before taking her in for the procedure, I called the ASPCA, which has an 800 number that connects you to an animal psychologist. I expected to get a voicemail because it was the weekend, so I was amazed when the psychologist answered the line. She spoke with me about end-of-life management issues for animals, and reassured me that I was doing the right thing for my pet by letting her pass away without undue suffering. She also mentioned that I should stay her until the end. This was very hard to do, but I’m glad I did.

Yesterday, I was touched to receive a sympathy card from the veterinarian about the loss of Charlene. She said that I had made the best decision for my pet.

I found this picture of cats silhouetted against a sunset, with a cosmos of hanging toys to bat around. It made me hope that there’s really a rainbow bridge, and that Charlene and I will meet again someday. She was a good kitty.


Sheila Connolly said...

It's never easy to lose a pet, nor should it be. They are a part of our lives (and often much more dependable than spouses or children).

We have an elderly cat who is at least 20 (she was a stray when we took her in, so we're not sure how old she really is). She spends all her time in one room, not moving much beyond her food and water, and back to her sleeping place. Every morning when I come downstairs, I have to make sure she's still breathing.

But she's happy. She still has a good appetite, and she purrs when we pet her. She's not in pain. She's just living out her life. And despite the inconvenience she causes, not to mention the uncertainty, I can't imagine having her put down just to make my life easier.

You have my sympathy too.

Kathryn Lilley said...

Thank you, Sheila! Twenty years old! Your cat sounds very happy and well cared for. Thank you for sharing about her.

Melissa said...

I'm so, so sorry for your loss. And I completely agree with what you said about pets, Sheila, nothing compares to having pets. I lost a beloved cat over 2 years ago now and a day still doesn't go by that I don't think of her and miss her. She was almost 17 and had stomach cancer, and that period of time was the worst of my life.

The cat I adopted after that is a beautiful tortie I named Tara. She's around 7 or 8 (again, a former stray, so the vets estimated when they spayed her), and I pray for a long time with her. I've only had her 9 months now, and already I'm so in love with her I can't imagine life without her.

Pets add more to our lives than can ever be measured, but the heartbreak when they're gone can't be measured either.

Terri Thayer said...

So sorry, Kathryn. The cats that run our lives leave a big hole behind, don't they?

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Oh, Kathryn, I'm so sorry. You have my sympathy.

Kathryn Lilley said...

Thank you, all! Terri, you're so right about cats running our lives! I have another beautiful cat, a Ragdoll, who really does think he's King of the house.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Oh, Kathryn, I really feel for you. It's almost easier when pets pass away on their own rather than having to make a decision about it. I still miss my Sparquie, although it's been 9 months since I had to make that terrible decision. But I'm so glad Ragdoll is around for you, like Lexie is for me.


Kathryn Lilley said...

Hi Linda--yes, that is indeed the hardest call to make. So sorry about Sparquie, as well. Thanks, all, for the support.