Sunday, February 14, 2010

When do you say goodbye?

I think the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was have my cat, Charlie, put to sleep. Maybe if that’s the hardest thing I’ve done, than compared to others, I have been blessedly lucky. It was over 4 years ago, but I can still recall the exact moment I handed her over to the veterinary, never to see her again. I think about that day, and feel like that was a defining moment for me. I was alone, with my furry best friend, sitting in a little room deciding to end her life. I had to make the decision all on my own. No one could tell me what I should do. I had to do what I thought was right for her. She was very ill. I ended her pain, and created my own.

I’m faced with making this same decision again very soon. It’s scary to feel responsible for making decisions such as these. Once you make it, there is no turning back. Charlie’s sister, Winni, is not doing well. At almost 16, she’s lived a great life. She’s been a great cat, a perfect cat. She’s one of those cats that you wish you could clone. She’s never had accidents, never scratched anything she wasn’t supposed to. She’ll lay in your lap for hours, purring loudly. She has a very loud meow and loves to "talk."

And her health is going down hill. She’s not acting like herself on most days. She moves very slowly. She has arthritis. I have to pick her up to drink from the sink because that’s what she prefers and can’t get there on her own anymore. She has a dry cough that never goes away. She gets confused. She forgets where the cat box is from time to time. She’s frail, tired and just old.

Is she in pain? I get asked that. And I really don’t know. With Charlie, I knew. I’m not sure about Winni. I certainly hope she isn’t. I wish she could tell me. Am I being selfish because I am not ready to lose her yet? What is her quality of life? Again, I don’t really know. But she’s still happy to see me when I pet her. And I did watch her bat at a piece of paper yesterday. . . Is that justification? I question myself. When are we ever ready to lose a loved one?

I know compared to human life, this shouldn’t be so hard. But somehow, when you truly love your pets, the heartache you feel is very real and very painful. And really, can grief be measured by “importance?”

Having pets – ensures you certain heartache at some point. We love them. Care for them. And most often, we outlive them. So every day I pray that I will find my little old girl, Winni, curled up on her favorite bed pillow, having drifted off peacefully. I pray for this, not because I am ready for her to leave us, but because I don’t want to be the one responsible for her passing.

But in the end, I will do what’s right for her, not me.


  1. Yes animals become like family. We've only had Meadow for about 3 months and I can't imagine not having her around.
    Hang in there Winni!!

  2. From a fellow animal lover, I would agree that losing a member of your family is one of the hardest things to get over. So sorry about Winni. I wish I could make it easier for you!

  3. We've got two dogs who are probably in the twilight of their lives too. As much as they get on my nerves sometimes, I can't imagine our family without them. My girls have never known a life without either of them.

    I'm sorry she's not doing so good. I hope for your sake, and hers, that one day she'll just go to sleep and stay in that peaceful state.