I stood silently, tears streaming down my face.
Dr. J. gently wrapped my old calico cat in a knitted cat blanket made by my grandmother years before. As I drove home with her body in my car, I looked back over the nearly 17 years of life with our cat, named Kate.
Kate came to me as a foster kitten at three weeks old. By the time I got her through the trials of being a very young kitten without her feline mother, and she became a survival success, I could not send her back to the shelter to be adopted. I was, as they call it, a foster failure.
Kate was one of those wild kittens who was always trying to get outside. In Winnipeg, where we lived at the time, outside was not only against the city bylaws, it was not safe, either.
When Kate was six months old, we moved home to Nova Scotia. Two months later on a snowy December evening, Kate was still up to her tricks. She got out and headed for the woods behind our house. Bare feet in my slippers, I ran into the snow after her. Just as she was heading into the woods to disappear from view, I made a desperate grab for her tail and pulled her back to safety.
She would grow from an eight-ounce orphaned kitten into a glossy 12 pound indoor cat with a forever home. From her first days with us, my husband’s lap was her favourite spot. This would be where she spent her nearly 17 years of evenings. Hers was a life filled with love, care, and good health.
The years of her comfortable life unfolded. Then one morning, Kate didn’t feel like eating. I took her to the vet where it was discovered that she was in kidney failure. This is a very common and terminal disease in elderly cats.
Her longevity was now limited, but there were things that could be done. Our only wish was to make her comfortable, and to give her more quality time. We began a regimen of treatment.
With special meds and food, Kate improved, and we gave her the best palliative care anyone could get. I looked into her eyes, and I promised her that when it was no longer fun for her anymore, that I would end her pain.
We petted her, talked to her, held her, took her up on the bed for afternoon naps (she wasn’t able to jump any more), and generally figured out what she wanted when she wanted it, and made it so.
We had nine more weeks of precious time to spend with her. Cats live in the moment, and I decided to live in those contented moments with her. Then came a stormy March Sunday, and Kate took a turn for the worse. After a phone call with the vet, we watched her closely over the rest of the day and night.
The next morning, I took Kate straight into Dr. J. She offered other options for us to try, but she was not hopeful. I looked at my suffering cat and knew that right here and right now, I had to keep my promise to her. I then said goodbye to our Kate, grateful and comforted for that blessing of nine more weeks.