I hate cats.
I don’t like cats – I never really have. At least that’s what I tell everyone anyway. This position is born from long-suffered allergies that made life near them impossible. When I got forced into a living situation with a pair of them ten years ago that changed. Sure one night I coughed so hard I passed out and face-planted the floor – I got over it.
I don’t know, maybe I was just being prepared for my wife-to-be and her cat – Monty Python Hausman aka Monty Cat. When I met him he was fat and lazy and never came out of my now step-daughter’s room. That would be because of the Sadie Dog but this blog isn’t about her.
At the risk of over-sharing I’m going to tell you about him. I don’t really care though, this isn’t for you really – it’s for me.
Yesterday Monty was no longer fat. In fact he was alarmingly thin. He seldom ate despite the many different foods we tried and now had pretty much lost control of his bladder. His hepatic and renal levels were at dangerous levels and his mild heart murmur was now pronounced.
Monty was a brave and strong cat though, he certainly didn’t let it show. He was pretty active still and, quite to my dismay, a rather good jumper. He loved to hop on counters, tables, chairs, whatever you would (not) like. For the past few months he has been on an insatiable search for water and food. He would stand at his full water bowl for minutes on end and constantly drink. He would search it out everywhere knocking over glasses and bowls in his endless search. The spoon from a recently finished meal would be licked clean and the bowl knocked over.
We couldn’t avoid it any longer; our Monty was living a life of misery. It’s not always an easy decision for when to put an animal down, most of the times in my life it’s been very obvious. This time it was very hard though and you constantly question yourself on whether there’s one more thing you can try to save your friend. Eventually you have to put yourself in the position of your pet and try to silence that selfish voice in you telling you there’s yet something more that can be done. When you look at the signs and see what your cat is doing is not behavioral but, out of necessity, you begin to understand.
My mother, gifted with her own mother’s constitution, has always taken care of the final decisions for our pets. I have always been amazed at her ability to do it, I’m even more amazed now.
The decision was made and it fell to me to take Monty on his journey. It was something I had never done before but I knew I had to. His vet is rather popular so after the call was made and we had to be worked in for 3:20 PM I now had almost a full day to think about this.
I decided it was going to be “Monty’s Day”, his day to do whatever he wants and I would do my best to make it happen. This included not getting upset when he jumped on the kitchen counter and keeping the Sadie Dog at bay so he could roam freely.
You always have those nagging thoughts on going through with it and having hours to think about it was hard. Monty wasn’t making it easy for me given the freedom I was allowing. Maybe it’s just because I couldn’t stop paying attention to what he was up to but he hit the top of every table in the house and came and sat with me in the living room. Eventually it was nap time for him and Sadie and geek time for me.
At lunch time he was up and active again where I snapped a picture of him on the counter, knowing our journey was only a couple hours away now. I almost took him for a walk outside but decided against it – getting loose right now would not be good for anyone. I went downstairs to catch up on some of my shows to give me something else to think about.
At the conclusion of one of my shows the alarm I had set went off and the dreadful notification that said only “Monty” came up on my phone. It was time for our journey.
As I came upstairs I knew where I would likely find him and I was right – sleeping under the dining room table we have come to call “Monty’s Fort”. It’s tough for Sadie to maneuver in there so he had largely abandoned his “shelf”. She could still get to him there so when the table came last year he quickly adopted its shelter.
I had brought the dreaded carrier with me so I knew I was in for some avoidance right away. One can have his own beliefs about whether animals truly sense when something like this is occurring but I knew he wasn’t going to be happy with that carrier no matter what. He hated it.
He went to the other end of the table after I woke him up and he saw it. He quickly surrendered though and I cuddled him warmly and took one last picture at home before putting him inside. I’m sure he knew something was up at this point. I couldn’t help but notice the weariness in his eyes though. Yes, he was just sleeping but there was still something there showing me how tired he was of his endless searches. It convinced me I was doing the right thing.
I stowed him away in the carrier, put it in front of Sadie to say our goodbyes and headed to the garage for our last trip together. I knew I was in for some meowing, did I mention he hated that carrier?
Heading in to the vet’s office it’s difficult to know what to expect. Vet’s offices are very interesting places full of smells and sounds and people in various states with their animals. Most people are there for routine things so they are enjoying their animals or tending to their normal needs. There was a little girl with her mother and their dog. There was laughter in the room.
With humans we have a very formal process about death, it’s not necessarily so with animals. So in this bustling sea of activity and happiness I was carrying Monty on his last visit. I wanted to hide and not let the sorrow taint anyone else. We were quickly settled in a room and ushered to the place Monty hated more than the carrier – the vet’s office. The technician and I stared in at him as he sat upright in the back as far away from the gate as possible.
At this point you expect to be questioned about your decision but that never came. The only person questioning me was myself again at this point. I bade her to retrieve a scale so I could see if my eyes were fooling me. After it read seven and a half pounds I knew they were not – he lost nearly two full pounds since December when we were last here discussing this.
I called Jane at work and gave her the grave news about his weight. We cried together some more making the gruesome decision about a pet’s life that was very much alive not far from me and what to do with his remains. It sucks on a scale I can’t adequately explain.
With the decisions made and things arranged so I could just leave when we were finished – we started on my gift to Monty.
The vet is one smart lady and decided we were going to let Monty stay in the dreaded carrier and just take the top of the carrier off. Once that was done a sedative was administered and this was the only time he had any real discomfort that was responded to with a hiss. The vet covered him with the towel I had brought and left with the tech.
I wanted to get him arranged since I knew at his weight it wouldn’t take long for the sedative to take effect. I pulled the towel back to do so and at this point the most astonishing thing happened: he stood up and got on the rim of the carrier tub and took a last glance outside. You can believe what you want about what an animal knows but I have no way to explain that and I am a person committed to reason. Something like this can only be explained by faith, and faith tells me Monty knew he was leaving. He stretched his torso and lifted his head for his eyes to see the gloomy rainy April day through the window high above him.
I apologized for the crappy day we had chosen and wrapped the towel around him as he came down and rested while he looked up at the window for a moment more. Then I helped him lay down for the last time as the sedative was taking hold. I gently cradled his head and chest and eased him down to the pastel colored towel from his carrier. I stroked his head and with the other hand grabbed the fuzzy blue blanket the tech had brought in when she first came in. It was just like the blanket on our bed he would sneak into.
I scratched his ears and rubbed his head for a full ten minutes as we waited. The Monty we could see was already gone at this point. I believed he could still hear me though so I used the time to talk to him and tell him about my friends Doyle and Delilah I was certain were going to be there to greet him. This was a good day for him, he was going to Rainbow Bridge.
The tech came and asked if we were ready and I nodded we were. The vet came back and it was time for Monty to go. I held and stroked his head and told him goodbye and that I would miss him as the vet administered my painful gift to him. I kept stroking until she could hear the murmur of his heart no more. My gift was complete and I said a tearful goodbye.
Today Monty was not there when I opened the bedroom door and Jane and I cried and were very sad. Tears for myself still stream but I am able to get them to subside when I think about my gift. No, Monty was not at my door this morning but he was not a prisoner of insatiable thirst. Today Monty is free and I’m sure misses his family still here. I’m sure he’s enjoying the gift though, provided Delilah isn’t getting on his nerves.Special thanks to Dr. Sara Thompson and the kind staff at [Westosha Veterinary Hospital](http://westoshavet.vetstreet.com "Westosha Veterinary Hospital") for your help.