Wednesday, August 29, 2007


This is a very sad day for me. I just returned from having my cat euthanized at the vet's office. Smokey and I had been together for almost eleven years after I adopted him from an animal rescue society. He was a big Russian Blue mix who stood out from the other cats at the shelter with an exceptionally regal and intelligent demeanor. He bonded with me (and I with him) very quickly after I brought him home, and I loved him dearly and considered him more my baby boy than a cat.

We went through a lot together. Two serious bouts of feline urologic syndrome blockage, the deterioration and death of my grandmother, the arrival and departure several years later of my girlfriend and her cat, a garage and house fire, my courtship, engagement, and marriage to my wife, the move to an extended stay hotel here in Sacramento before our new house became available, the move to the new house, the acquisition of two other cats, and, most recently, a run-in with two neighbor dogs.

When I adopted Smokey, he was approximately four years old and weighed almost seventeen pounds. He was big and strong. But over the past few years his weight had gradually dropped until he was only a little over eight pounds three weeks ago. I had had him checked and even had his teeth thoroughly cleaned a year-and-a-half ago, but the vets didn't know what to do with him beyond that. And then, over the past three weeks, his weight plummeted to seven pounds and he looked like loose skin and bones, seemed unable to eat, and was very lethargic.

I took him to the vet this morning expecting the worst, and I got what I expected. The vet said Smokey was severely dehydrated and emaciated and that his prognosis for his age and condition was "guarded to poor" even under the optimal circumstances of us taking him to an emergency clinic immediately and having him infused with fluid and nutrients for a day or two. If he showed any improvement from that, there would be blood panels and x-rays and, probably, intensive, prolonged, and expensive treatment to possibly extend his life and make it better. My wife and I decided that we couldn't afford such an iffy proposition for a cat whose best years were clearly far, far behind him and who was probably better off going to his eternal resting place than lingering through unpleasant tests and treatments and inevitable progressive debility. So I told our vet to put him to sleep.

He offered us the chance to stay with Smokey during part or even all of the procedure, but we couldn't do it. It would have been too much for me and my wife to witness that. We said our goodbyes and then took our tearful leave.

I loved Smokey. My wife has joked more than once that I loved him more her, and it's true that I felt closer to him than I have to most human beings in my life, including some of my family and friends. I think I made the right choice today, but I feel great sadness in my soul. There seems to be something especially tragic to me about snuffing out the light of life of such an innocent creature, especially when his mind remains sound even though his body is a wreck.

Rest in peace, Smokers. I will never, EVER forget you.

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