It is always difficult to say goodbye to a family member.
This afternoon, I was at my desk, working on my latest book, when I heard Abigail behind me. She liked to sleep in the hidden cubbyhole under our bed, and, as an old and overweight cat, she had health problems and would cough and hack up hairballs and such. This time, the sound was different — and then it just stopped.
(I had to go back and rewrite that paragraph when I realized I had written it in the present tense.)
“Abby?” I said in my talking-to-cats voice. “Are you all right?” When she didn’t respond, I got nervous. This didn’t feel right. I pulled out my phone, turned on the flashlight, and peered under the bed. She was there, but not moving. I didn’t see her breathing. I reached in to touch her and her eyes were open and her tongue was out.
“Heidi!” I screamed. “Get up here now!”
Heidi came upstairs to see what I was so upset about, and soon we were both crying. We checked for a heartbeat or breathing and found nothing. We placed her in a box and took her to our vet — not because we thought anything could be done, but because we knew they could humanely have her cremated.
It’s never easy. We’ve outlived a number of cats over the years, and as anyone who has ever had a beloved pet knows, it is like losing a family member. We’re childless by choice, so we spoil our cats instead.
As we left the vets, Heidi said, “Let’s go look at kittens.” I reminded her that we still had three other cats to keep us company, but she was so sad, so I went along. We drove to the local no-kill animal shelter where we have adopted some of our previous family members.
Now we have two more — sisters from the same litter. 8 weeks old. No names yet. They’re currently in the downstairs bathroom, allowing them to get used to the area and the smells before we expand their world and let them meet their new housemates. Meanwhile, I fed the other three and mistakenly called one “Abigail.” So it’s not like adopting kittens makes you forget your past cats.
Heidi has no problem in becoming the crazy cat lady, and I guess I’m happy for our extended family.