How cruel can one be? Is it cruel to wish one’s cat – a pet with whom you have shared almost the last 18 years – should wander out and.. be knocked down by a car?

Or that he should go to sleep and not wake tomorrow?


Except…that would be kinder than today’s news. He is old. 18 in cat years, I learn, is near as dammit 90 in human ones. That’s a good innings, by any standards.

The last month or two, he’s been losing weight. His breath smells. He dribbles. He is annoying as hell. But I endure that because, in between the bad habits – including his awful propensity for peeing in the garage, or extending an exploratory claw in the direction of my oh-so-sensitive boobs – there is still my old cat: the laidback, black scoundrel who curls up and purrs on my lap, who comes to see me in the morning, or follows me, hopefully, around the kitchen.

(The tears are pouring as I write this).

I know him so well: can still see the scrawny little kitten, who came to me in the spring of 93, in a wicker basket, red ribbon tied around the top. Oh! If he had any hopes for being a big tough butch cat, they must have died at that moment.

Not that he ever showed any signs of embarrassment.

I love him. I shall miss him.

Because the news…today’s news…is that his time is almost up. He is old. Tired. Stick thin, from not eating. Tooth problems. Kidney problems, maybe. Other stuff. A younger cat, they might operate on. This age…the anaesthetic alone might kill him.

And even then, as he recovered, we would not know whether we’d cured the right thing…or whether the next in a long line of conditions would be waiting to get him. He seems happy, for now. Still his cheerful, purry self. But we are nearing a critical line: the point at which keeping him alive would be mere human selfishness.

His time is almost up. This is impossible to write…

So out of kindness…out of concern for the pain he may have to endure, in a week or so…maybe less… I must bring him back to the vet to be killed.

Is there any worse thing than that? Because if he did go under a car, or go to sleep, or die from a dozen other causes…I’d be heartbroken but…it would be sudden. Unpre-meditated. Unexpected.

Not this cold, heartless planning.

This is the second time in three years I’ve faced this. Last time it was a dog for whom I felt affection, but with whom I’d shared barely two years.

My cat…misz: 18 years – or more than a third of my life. I will so miss you.

You have a week now of cream and mashed fish. Treats. Hugs and soft words.

Then goodbye.



9 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Renee said,

    OMG, I’m so sorry. I guess we many of us will be able to empathize…I feel like I’m right there with you while reading this. I wish I could be for real, to share a hug.

    The only thing that has ever helps me say goodbye to a pet is reminding myself how much better, happier, and safer his or her life was with me than without. But even that is small consolation, I know.

  2. 2

    Lucy Melford said,

    I do feel for you Jane.

    This is terribly similar to the way it went with my Macavity, a tabby, who arrived as a tiny kitten in 1989 and died (at home, with me) as a huge but gaunt old cat in 2005. He was irreplaceable and has not been replaced, nor will he be.

    I do know all about how it feels. Part of your life really does go.

    Lucy X

  3. 3

    Mary said,

    Dear Jane

    So sorry. People who don’t love animals can have no idea of the bonds we have with our beloved pets. The planning is not cold and heartless – it’s the final loving thing that we can do for them. Much better than suffering the awful decline. Hold him while he’s going to sleep, and hope that our loved ones will do the same for us when our time comes.

  4. 4

    Stace said,


    So sorry to read this. We have a 9 year old rabbit that is fast approaching the same place (her hips have given up on her, though she’s still eating etc for now). The vet has tried to prepare us (she’s just old I’m afraid, there is little I can do), but we’re dreading that day.


  5. 5

    Julian said,

    So sorry to read this, Jane. C & I had the cat put to sleep last year, and it was more emotional than I’d thought. It’s sad but it is often the best thing – it was for our ginger monster.

    Hugs if you want them. xx

  6. 6

    Karen said,

    One of the toughest things in life is to outlive your pets. You must remember that your cat isn’t enjoying life as it has. you have agreed that it’s tired and is time to sleep in your memories. please give him a hug from me.

  7. 7

    Carolyn Ann said,

    Sorry to hear about your cat.

    We’ve had a few knocked over, and it’s always a heartbreaking moment.

  8. 8

    Denise Anderson said,

    I lost my cat due to illness… sadly for me i wasn’t with him, he was with my elderly parents, and in some way i think he triggered their deaths within a year of him…. he stopped eating, had a growth in his mouth… and sadly the cat knew he was on his way out, when the vet came to take him away he never objected to the cat box he fearlessly fought over the years to be put in….

    A big part of me went with him, he knew everything about everything, i could talk to him and he would listen, and yes… he would listen…. i know the pain you feel…

    Give him a good long hug….

    Keep the good thoughts flowing… remember the rascal in him, remember all the stuff that made you laugh… and then he’ll always will be with you 🙂


  9. 9

    Demelza said,

    So sorry to read this. I hope you have many fond memories of him.

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