26 Jan 2008

A life passing

Posted by AC

We euthanized our cat, Camus, today. It seems such a strange way to say it. But easier than “we took a family member to be killed today.”

Camus resting

I guess it had been coming for a while. A long while, really. He’d had feline mega colon for years. Mostly we’d managed it medically, giving him 4 different medications1 twice daily. Still, cleaning up errant poop or vomit wasn’t an uncommon occurrence. Occasionally, we’d given him enemas. But finally, he’d pretty much given up and started to shut down. The serious downslide happened while we were away for Christmas and boarding him. He’d gotten backed up, and had to be given an enema. But then he refused to eat and had to be hospitalized and force-fed. He regained some strength and verve and we brought him home. But from that time on, he ate little, and slept lots. He lost weight, and even got to the point where he had a hard time keeping his hindquarters up and stable during standing.

This morning, while we were cleaning up more of that errant poop and vomit, we decided on another trip to the vet. They were able to see us right away. (Carolyn and Camus went alone. Sam and I stayed home.) The vet checked and his colon was empty. This was no longer the standard “he got backed up” problem. It was time to make a decision; lots of invasive (and expensive tests) on a clearly aging and ailing feline -vs- a gentle easing of his suffering and a passage on to the next life2. Carolyn brought Camus back for some family time and “is this the right thing?” consultation. We pet him, told him we loved him. We opened a can of tuna to give him the water from it — a perennial favorite. We then all took him back down to the vet and stayed in the examination room as the doctor administered the fatal shot. We’re having him cremated though I’ve no idea what we’ll do with the ashes.

Basket Cat

The void he leaves behind feels immense, and I’m tempted to try to fill it with cookies or booze, even knowing that neither will work and both will leave remnants I won’t want to deal with. I’m glad we have each other to share the loss with as well as the fond remembrances. As eulogy, I (and Carolyn?) will leave a few Camus stories here in the blog over the next few days. Mostly they are short ones. Mostly they are personal, having meaning only for us. But they’ll have a place to help honor the feline that was a part of this family for almost thirteen years. Sadly, even to his dying day is name was both fitting and butchered by caretakers. As we were waiting for the final visit from the vet we overheard the assistant letting him know that /kay-muss/ was in room 3.

Rest in Peace, buddy-cat.

  1. cisapride, lactulose, mineral oil and metamucilReturn to body
  2. I don’t even believe in an afterlife for humans, but it sure is a comforting way to think about itReturn to body

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One Response to “A life passing”

  1. As I read your eulogy and Carolyn’s to Camus tears streamed. Tears for your loss, tears for the Camus I knew over the years–the pampered kitten who sat in the straw hat, the center of your home life, your first child, the focus of much care, the cat who had to go on a diet and would greedily consume all but two pellets of his allotment of dried food, the picky cat for whom I searched for just the right can of Fancy Feast (there were so many choices!), the cat who rarely honored one by brushing against your let but who would tolerate little touch in return, the cat who hardly ever spoke but who had a fine purr, a regal and aloof cat who ruled his limited world, who once played with fanciful feathers dangled before him but would tire of the game before the dangler would have quit, who left cat hair everywhere before he had more disturbing leavings, the cat who for unknowable reasons chose to pee on the carpet under the expanse of front window (inside the house) in Charlottesville which finally caused AC to rip up carpet and pad and learn to beautify concrete floors with an acid stain and hours and hours of hard labor, the cat who before he moved to California and a house with an enclosed back yard got to go out the back door on a leash and swish his tail at passing birds. On my last November/December visit I felt Camus had mellowed. He rubbed against my leg (more than just a faint brush) and deigned to allow light patting–a significant change in our relationship. And I cried for Tom, because I could have substituted “Tom” for “Camus” in much of what you wrote. I recognized the appetite loss, the weight loss, the loss of stability, the overwhelming need to sleep, the fact that all discomfort can not be cured, that lives end. The prime significance, though, is not that we have lost our friend and companion but that we have loved them with all our hearts and that they have become entwined in our lives and that we have cared for them til death parted us. The deep down grief has a way of watering the garden of appreciation–appreciating those that are in our lives and the greater web of life. We acknowledge not just our loss but our gain in the connection we had, the things we learned that are a part of who we have become to this point. And I think you did the right thing by putting Camus “to sleep”. When I was holding Stovepipe in my lap while she was getting the fatal shot, I could not help but think that I should be so lucky to die peacefully in the arms of those whom I loved and who loved me. If I could have taken Tom in for the same shot a few days before his more difficult passing, I would have. (Remember that, my dear children, when I am in Camus situation.) Love, Mom/Eve/Grand-mere



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