R.I.P. Gray Cat
Of the many rituals and traditions that go along with Superbowl Sunday (actually, I didn’t grow up in a sports watching family and the only routines I’ve become acquainted with as an adult involve drinking too much and eating stuff like chicken wings and chili) euthanizing your cat is not one that I’m familiar with.
A little over a year and a half ago, James brought The Gray Cat back with him from his parents’ home in northern Virginia. It was his college cat that his mom and dad took a liking to in the early ‘90s and adopted from him. In ’05 his mom (who’s more than a little irrational and difficult) decided he couldn’t be in the house anymore. I think the subtext was that he’d been peeing on things, was likely sick and her husband had just got out of the hospital after a kidney surgery and couldn’t deal with another elderly unwell creature. That’s just my interpretation.
So, we got the unnamed cat who turned out to be diabetic and needed daily insulin injections (I don’t even want to think about my diabetic diagnosed cat back in Portland who has been subject to the tough it out approach for the last four years). He was rickety and had a hard time getting up and down the stairs and would howl to be carried but he didn’t seem like he was at death’s door either. But at 16 this year, I knew it was only a matter of time. I think I kind of hoped that one day I might find him keeled over in the basement closet (his little lair he liked sleeping in) so we wouldn’t have to deal with the inevitable decision.
But yesterday he couldn’t walk or stand up without falling over and he wouldn’t eat or drink. He was never sprightly but this seemed like trouble so we took him to the emergency vet, kind of knowing he wouldn’t be back. For like $3,000 they could do all these procedures, but essentially his kidneys had failed, neurological damage had set in and his mouth was filled with sores. It upsets me when people like a woman at my previous job spend oodles of money on things like canine chemo just to have the pet die in a month. It’s fucked up financially and emotionally. Everyone has to deal with people and pet death eventually.
They kept The Gray Cat (officially listed as Nikolai, which I guess was his real name that never stuck. I don’t know these things because I’m a bad cat step-mom) overnight and this morning James went back and had him put to sleep. It was more his thing than mine. I know it’s just a cat, and I didn’t even know him that long but it’s still sad. At least he made it to 16. He was old enough to remember crap like Color Me Badd and Paula Abdul before she was slurring on TV. I was reading a pet magazine in the waiting room and poor Detective Fred, the cat who was deputized for acting as a decoy in unlicensed vet sting last year, had been hit and killed by a car. What the fuck? And he was only 15 months old.
I don't generally anthropomorphize animals (though I love the concept applied to food) but for reasons I can't put my finger on The Gray Cat reminded me of this columnist at work, Neil Graves, who always comes into the library (I'm trying to find a photo, but no luck). This guy is kind of slow and deliberate, quiet with dry humor but it's not much his demeanor, he resembled The Gray Cat, strange as that sounds. Um, he's also African-American which amuses me because I've never really thought of felines as being one race or the other. Now, no one better get all accusatory because I think a black man looks like an animal.
People really have a way of making cat heaven look incredibly creepy. I hope The Gray Cat went someplace else (no, I don't mean hell).