Every pet owner knows that one day, their pet will be old and it will be time to let go. I am facing that now with three of my old cats. Kinky, Truffles, and Basil are 15-17 years old. Until recently two of the three have been doing very well for their age. It is clear now that all three are running out of time with me. All three cats came to me as kittens at different times needing a home. I knew when I took them in that if I was lucky, they would all live to a ripe old age and I would suffer a lot of loss in a short amount of time. I have been thinking about it for a while now, as Truffles has had a slow decline over the past year. There is no cure for old age. Bodies wear out. I am grateful for the time we have had. I am glad I gave them a loving home; they were never hungry, cold, or scared.
Kinky is the oldest. Clearly, from the beginning, Kinky was special. Named for the prominent kink in her tail, Kinky was never known for her intelligence. OK, Kinky was not the sharpest tool in the shed. But, she made up for it with her delightful disposition. She always got on well with other cats, absolutely loved the dogs, and was social with people. One time my neighbor called to tell me Kinky had been at her back door asking to come in. When she opened the door, apparently Kinky realized it was the wrong house and ran home. What Kinky has been most noted for was her tendency to let puppies maul her. Kinky loved puppies so much that she would get in the middle of a pack and allow them to play tug of war with her fuzzy body. The puppies thought this was great fun. I’m not sure what Kinky thought as she would sadly meow until I rescued her. And then promptly return to the pups! This happened with every litter. Nowadays, Kinky has the muscle loss of age. It is harder for her to jump on the couch. She has aged considerably in the last few months.
Truffles is the second oldest. A beautiful long haired calico, she was a shelter kitten that came to my house as a tiny kitten. She suffered terrible diarrhea as a baby. Her beauty was surpassed only by her odor. As she aged and her diarrhea resolved, she was my sweetheart. An indoor-outdoor cat, she would always take her place near my head on my bed at night. Now infirm and blind, she prefers to be ON my head. For quite a while I have known that she was failing. Each morning I look at her and wonder if today is the day.
Basil is the youngest of the three. But, he is still old. He has been losing weight for some time now. His bloodwork is good, but clearly his body is wearing out. He had a tooth extracted last fall that was causing him pain. At least I know I can keep him comfortable. That is my obligation. While Basil enjoys a good rub down, he has never been Mr Easy Going. I am pretty sure the other cats refer to him as Uncle Grumpy. A black cat with long hair, he needs help from me to keep his coat in shape. Honestly, he was never into grooming. I think he felt it was a waste of his time.
I dread waiting for the inevitable. I ask myself if I will have the strength to make the decision to euthanize if they are suffering. Clearly, I have to. It won’t be easy. They have given me a gift in sharing my life all these years. I owe them comfort and peace at the end.