Emotionally draining, that.
I didn't want a cat. Really, with kids already, and a house to take care of and grad school and a full time gig as a cop, I didn't want any pets. The thing about pets is that they are a responsibility. They are a monetary drain. They are a time drain. They are an emotional drain, eventually, when they die or get sick.. And they add an extra mess to my cluttered life.
|Cat & Mouse Games.|
He got fat. We made names about it. FatWad, Butterball, etc. But his given name was Oliver.
I cut a door to the garage, and from the garage to the outside world, because I will not put up with a box of crap in my house.
And he lived with us, getting fatter and only affectionate when he wanted things, for about 3.5 years.
And one day, he got sick. Urinating blood. Having trouble passing water. I dutifully took him to the vet, and spent a LOT more money than I would think possible for me to spend on a cat. A month later, I did it again.
He got sick again this week. He went missing. When we found him 2 days later, he was stove up, off his feed, not drinking. I locked him in the bathroom, and tried to bring him back to health. No good. My wife and I talked. We made a decision. His kidney problems had gotten too far. He was clearly suffering.
I explained to my almost-14 year-old and 10-year-old daughters that we were putting him down. The elder daughter held it together. The younger one lost it, bad. She sprinted out of the room, tripped, fell, sobbed hysterically. She plans to be a vet. I think that she'll make a good one. She loves animals. She asked me some hard questions about killing a family member. These are not happy questions, but they were fair ones for her to ask, even if the answers were unfair. I somehow held it together. Mostly.
I called the vet to see when I could bring him in. Yes, I could do it myself, but I wanted to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he simply went to sleep. I may have broken down just a bit on the phone. It was 11:00 AM. The vet could see me at 2:30PM.
We watched a movie. Rubber, about a sociopathic serial killer tire. I thought that a humorous flick would be good. Look, it wasn't my best decision. When they got to where people died in a lengthy scene by poisoning, I realized my incredible error. My conversation with my 10 year-old resumed.
I got a pick and a shovel. and ran water to break up the hard pan, and dug a grave in the back yard. I put the cat into a carrier, and got a box and put a towel in it. And then it was time to go to the vet. The girls said goodbye to the cat. Goodbye to Oliver.
Mom drove me there, because my car was in the shop. What with construction delays, we arrived late. About 2:40PM. I went in, and the receptionist greeted me cheerfully, until he saw what I was there for. He showed me to an exam room, and asked me if I needed some time with the cat. I started to reassure him that, no-- I was already late, and had held them up enough, and... and.. and I broke down into a sobbing, blubbering fit, the likes of which I haven't committed in years and years. He left me alone for a bit.
The doc came in. She looked at me, and immediately began examining the cat. "Look," she said, "he's got an abscess on his heel, here." I had seen it (he must have gotten into some kind of a fight with another cat or some critter), but mentioned that it was only the latest in his problems, but his recurring kidney problems were what made me come to this decision. She quickly took his temperature. "106. (They run about 101 or so anyway, but that's still a bad fever.) That abscess was infected. Not eating or drinking? Consistent with fever. Dehydrated? Consistent with not eating or drinking. Shaky, weak? Consistent with infection. "I think I can fix this guy. I know you're on a budget, but let me X-ray him on my bill, to see if that leg is broken." She took him and did so, and returned. "It's not broken. I gave him a heavy duty shot of antibiotic, on me. Let me put in some sub-cutaneous fluids, pushed." She and her assistant did so. She gave me some instructions for care. She gave me some additional oral antibiotics. She accepted my hug.
The bill was just $53. I think it's $35 or something for putting one down. Maybe more; I didn't check. She had given me about $250 worth of service for free, to save the cat's life.
I took him home and put him into my bathroom. The kids were deliriously happy.
He's sick. Very sick. Even after we fix this, he's got issues. So I still have to worry about a damned cat that I didn't want in the first place. But I'm glad we refilled that summer garden grave with dirt and nothing else.
The kids are making the thank-you cards. I'll sign 'em, too.
*EDIT (07/14/2012): Oliver was up and around this afternoon. He sneaked out of the bathroom and was roaming the house. We put him back up, because the doc wants me to monitor his ins and outs. We bathed him last night, and he looks good. The vet had given him a shot of something like Tylenol for the fever, too. He's going to be okay, I think. Stupid cat.