This past week we had a very difficult, but responsible decision to make. We had to put our 20 year old Nelly cat to sleep. She was gravely ill, unable to walk, and not experiencing a good quality of life. All family members were around and a wonderful vet, who is a mobile vet and a cat specialist, came to our home and did a thorough, gentle exam. She gave us her best opinion and allowed for us to take the time to make the necessary decision. The vet was able to put her to sleep at our home and she was buried in a little simple coffin which my husband built for her. We buried Nelly in the corner of our lot with a cat statue beside her little "gravestone".
Am I making too much of this event? No. This is a little being who shared our lives for twenty years. We got her when I was pregnant with our eldest. So, both of our children have known this little grey cat their entire lives. She was a constant presence in all of our lives. There were the sweet moments where she purred very loudly and sat on our laps, especially doing her very important job of keeping company with anyone who was sick. There were the ridiculous moments where she was always one step directly in front of us, darn near sending me flying repeatedly. We called her Nelly the Bathroom Cat because she insisted on being with us in the bathroom, rubbing her face on the corner of the wall and purring. Nelly was very vocal. She kept a constant conversation, especially first thing in the morning.
Routine and habits were important to her. A ham sandwich could not be made for lunches without her receiving two small pieces of ham. NOBODY ate a bowl of cereal without her meowing at them, reminding them that she must get the bowl when they were done. When someone sat on the couch and watched tv, a lap had to be provided, but a blanket on that lap was even better. Although she was small, and older, she ruled the roost over our younger, bigger, stronger Samson. She ate first while he waited off to the side. If he walked a bit too close to her, she raised a paw and cuffed him as a reminder of the heirarchy.
And so, we say goodbye. We now have one cat. He is a very different sort. More outdoorsy and quiet, but with his own special quirks. He is currently curled up at the end of the bed while I type this. But later, he will arise and stalk chipmunks and maintain order around the perimeter.