Recently we had to put our cat, Marcus, to sleep. He was not exactly a kitten at age 14, and after fighting gastrointestinal cancer for two and a half years, he was pretty much on his 9th life. But even though he was old and sick and we were expecting it, the loss of a pet brings its own unique kind of misery.
If you're not an animal person, this will probably sound strange to you. But now that he's gone, the emptiness in our house is palpable. I adopted Marcus from an animal shelter eight years ago. I knew him longer than I've known my husband.
He used to sprint from room to room in my old apartment at lightning speed (the cat, not the husband). When Marcus stalked the mysterious little flying bugs that showed up in that apartment periodically, he would sometimes leap into the air and catch one between his front paws. He'd sit on the back of the couch and look out the window and watch the birds. And when I was trapped in the claustrophobic grip of depression, he'd come silently up beside me and gaze at me with his deep green eyes, and purr. His purr sounded like an outboard motor.
When I slept on my stomach, he would curl up on my back. When he wanted to wake me up to give him breakfast, he'd gently lick my eyelids or my cheeks, or pat my arm with his paw.
Marcus put up with two house moves and the addition of a new human daddy and human little sister, all without the slightest complaint. And then he got cancer and we had to start giving him pills every day, which he hated. But his quality of life was undiminished for the most part, until shortly before he died.
He had been a fairly big cat, with long, glossy black fur that remained beautiful up until the end, but in his last couple of months he lost a lot of weight and became very bony. Then about two days before he died, he stopped eating. Twenty-four hours before he died, he was still jumping up on the couch. But the morning we decided to have him put to sleep, Marcus couldn't jump up anymore -- he couldn't even walk.
I carried him to his favorite windowsill in our living room so he could watch the blue jays in the trees that morning. I held Marcus in my arms when the vet administered the needle. He went out of our lives without a sound.
The Peanut looked from room to room for Marcus for a while, but now has stopped searching. But occasionally she will still say "Kitty?" in a questioning way, and I'll respond, "Kitty gone." And she will nod her head sagely and say "Kitty gone. Mama sad."