She had injured her leg and after rounds of antibiotics, no change. She was still in a great mood, eating and purring and loving being petted. I kept putting it off and putting it off, convincing myself it looked a little better, that she was still getting around, that she was still seeking us out for affection.
I did not sleep last night, I woke up at 12:17 and laid there until I finally peeled myself out of bed this morning. It wasn't getting better. The vet had given us a new type of meds that were a 'last resort' for badly infected puncture wounds, but a full week into the 10 day round, it was not looking any better. The vet suspected snake or spider bite, the wound was necrotic. She wasn't acting like she was in pain because the nerves were too damaged to feel it.
I had decided to wait until Saturday to decide if she needed intervention, so Matt could help. But after feeding her her med-laced food and using wipes to clean her face and body, I realized this is what my life has become. Every day I watch her, all day long. I shovel her poop into holes I dig for her, I poison ants (with borax) when they start making lines toward her leg, I clean her bedding and wash her body and spray her leg with peroxide and work a doll brush through her tangled hair, which had begun to fall out in clumps. I have not gone anywhere in nearly 3 weeks. I didn't want to give up hope, but how fair was it to keep her in this limbo?
Yesterday, she changed locations about a dozen times requiring hourly searches to relocate her in order to keep the dogs from harassing her. I was taking Nia and Murph out myself all last week, never letting either out of my sight. It was constant reminding the kids to watch for the cat, daily prayers that she would pass easily in the night. I was so stressed.
Today, I found her under a car, then under the porch, then splayed on the sidewalk, then on the porch, then in the mint and I finally realized she just can't get comfortable. That was a change, but not for the better. I went out and tried to soothe her and she just yowed. The vet had said I would 'know when it was time'. I didn't understand it until I did.
I went in to get a basket and a towel. She purred as I carried her to the van. She purred as I talked to her going down the road. She purred as I held her for the vet to examine one last time, her body so hot, her face pressed into my neck. The fever was new. I took her to the vet a week ago and she was running normal. Over the weekend, she felt cat-temp. Today, it was like holding a sunbeam.
I signed the paperwork saying I gave permission to euthanize her. That to my knowledge she had not bitten anyone. The staff at the vet's office was so kind. I had envisioned being scolded for choosing to put her to sleep, or being debated or talked into trying yet another type of medication. But none of that happened, they were gentle with us both.
The first shot, she did not even flinch. She purred and we petted her and I cried and cried and cried, tears splashing off my sandals, running under my feet so that later, every step, I squelched. She went very limp and the vet gave me a minute. I adjusted her body on the towel and helped her close her eyes. I rubbed her head until her last purr faded and she was breathing shallowly and I rubbed her as clean as I could with the combo of baby wipes and copious amounts of tears I had on hand. It didn't seem right for her to be dirty, she was always messing with herself, fighting that long fur to lay smooth. Cats are filthy. I wiped her feet, her mouth, made sure her ears were clean inside. Got the fur smoothed down her spine. She was so thin, this cat who, in her prime, was a hefty 13 pounds was now just over 5.
The next shot was a tiny pink goo-filled syringe. It took a couple of seconds to get it all in her leg. The vet set the needle down and listened for a heartbeat. She was gone. It was that fast. She never seemed stressed or scared or hurt, even the car ride in wasn't hard. She drifted off being petted and if there is any justice in the universe, that is where she still is hovering-in that memory of that feeling of no pain and many hands, of running her purr engine and making biscuits on the old towel I had wrapped her in.
The vet arranged her body like she was asleep and placed her in a bag that she taped off. I paid at the desk and went back in the room to get her. The bag was hot, that poor cat. I feel so horrible for both letting her wait so long and for letting her go so soon. She still had 4 days of meds left.
But they were not helping at all, the vet told me during the exam that the only thing left to try was amputating it and she doubted Cle would survive the anesthesia.
At home, I dug a spot outside my window. It's not where the rest of our pets are buried and I hope she doesn't mind. The bag was still warm as I lowered it into the hole, careful to keep her arranged in a comfortable cat curl. I put a double stack of brick on top because the very last thing I want is to walk outside next week and see shredded green plastic and ecstatic dogs.
Of the 4 cats we have had for well over a decade, Wonder is the only one left. After Muta disappeared, Wonder has stuck close to the house, despite the fact that Murphy and Nia are little shits to her. There is a stray orange male kitten who has moved in to the shed. While he seems sweet and I have not seen him mess with Wonder, efforts are underway to trap him to take to the pound. I can't do it any longer. I don't want more pets. I don't know if it's my age or the fact that I thought we HAD to have animals for the kids-who really don't seem to notice we have pets-or the fact that a 'quick' exam at the vet is now $160 a dog. Or if it's the weekly washing of the vacuum filters because they get clogged with dog hair. Or if it was losing Zephyr and then Kaiju. Something along the way fell off my personal radar and I feel done.
I can only hope dogs do what dogs are supposed to do and decline quickly and die at home after just a day or two of illness. If I have to put down Jessie or Kuma, I will break.
I don't know what the future holds. On the way to the vet, I told Cleo to find me again, when I was ready. She meowed once, and was quiet. I talked non-stop the whole way and that was the only time she replied. So maybe, when I am 70 and ready to stop running around so much, I'll go to the pound and see a little grey stripped long-haired kitten with green eyes and a meow like a bell and I'll say, "Well, hello there Cleo Della Rosa, how have you been?" and she will say, "Meow". And I will be forgiven.