Letting go of a family pet is no easy task

3 years ago

Saying goodbye to a family pet is never an easy thing. We often take for granted everyday interactions with our animals. Yes, we can even get annoyed at times, especially when they wake you up at odd hours of the night.

Unfortunately it is not until those interactions are gone that one truly understands just how much they meant.

This past week we had to say farewell to our family cat. After 18-plus years, our cat’s body began shutting down and the once playfull ball of fur that pounced around the house chasing that red laser pointer had become a shell of her former self. Her hind legs became stiff and over the course of a few days she lost interest in eating.

Each morning, I wondered if I would find the cat curled up under the bed, having passed peacefully in her sleep. My wife and I struggled with the decision of when to know if the time was right. Other animal owners I spoke with said “you will know.” And they were right.

My wife first brought the cat home when we were living in Thomaston. I was dead set against the addition — I was never very fond of cats — but my wife is an animal lover and wanted to pass that affection on to our children.

At the time, our oldest daughter was just 2 years old and immediately fell in love with “her” cat. Being a 2-year-old, naturally she decided the cat’s name would be “Meow-Meow” because of the distinct and very vocal meowing that emanated from the animal whenever someone touched her.

Sometimes the cat’s voice would sound eerily similar to someone saying “helwoah” and it would often startle me awake in the middle of the night thinking someone was in the house.

Meow-Meow was not what one would call a very affectionate cat. She would not sit in your lap, unlike most cats, and would only tolerate being held for so long. Except when it came to our daughter. She seemed to be able to do anything with “her cat,” occasionally lying down next to her and using the cat’s torso as a pillow.

As they both grew older, the cat’s favorite place to sleep was on our daughter’s bed — sometimes on the pillow adjacent to her. Whenever our daughter was away on a school trip or vacation, the cat would stare into her room as if to say “How dare you leave without me.”

When it became too difficult for the cat to jump up onto the bed, or to make the trek up the stairs to her room, Meow-Meow would sit at the bottom of the staircase and cry out for our daughter to come down and get her.

We also learned rather painfully that Meow-Meow preferred to be a one-cat family. We tried introducing a kitten to the mix when our youngest daughter requested a cat of her own. That experiment did not go well as the two fought constantly, often escalating the levels of encounters. After about six months of battles, and no end in sight, we found a new home for the younger cat and things slowly returned to normal. 

For a while that is. My wife deeply wanted a dog and the cat was none too pleased when we introduced a Cocker Spaniel puppy to the mix. When they first met, the cat took two swipes at the dog in what was clearly a statement of superiority as the queen of the house. 

After seven years under the same roof, the two animals eventually sought a common ground of steering clear of one another.

The cat’s decline came on somewhat suddenly. And with our daughter getting ready to head off to college this fall, it was almost as if Meow-Meow sensed she was going to be leaving and didn’t want to remain behind without her. After many tears, hugs and kisses we were able to say goodbye to our faithful feline.

The house will be a lot quieter, but we have taken solace in the fact that she is no longer suffering.

Joseph Cyr is the assistant editor/senior reporter for the BDN weekly newspapers. He can be reached at 532-2281 or via email at jcyr@bangordailynews.com