Duncan turned 15 this past year. He had started to drink water constantly and had slowed down considerably. The vet confirmed after blood tests that we were dealing with kidney failure but we were hopeful it was something we could manage for as long as possible. Last month he took a very sudden turn for the worse and within hours of taking him to the vet we had to make the decision to let him go.
Making the decision to end the suffering of a pet is always hard. Duncan was one of many cats I’ve had the pleasure of loving and caring for throughout my life. I grew up with pets and my husband and I have acknowledged that no matter what eventual grief you face in losing a pet, living without pets is not an alternative. I will be writing more about how to understand more about when to make that decision in future blogs.
Dealing with the immediate loss is devastating. So many things remind us daily of Duncan and the big hole he left in our life. Duncan’s favorite cat bed empty, the lack of his presence in the bathroom as we got ready for work, his distinctive step coming down the basement stairs as he came to greet us when we came home. Duncan also loved people and greeted everyone who came to our house, so we have been blessed with many friends expressing their sympathy but also reminded everywhere we go that he’s gone.
Even though we have 3 other cats that are now being lavished with additional attention, we still feel the loss. Any pet parent can attest to the hole left in their lives when a beloved pet is gone. And I have heard some vow to never have another pet again, that they just cannot face another loss like that.
When we bring a pet into our life, we do have to acknowledge that in most cases, we will outlive that pet. And we have the privilege and responsibility of caring for that pet and of being prepared to make the decision to ease that pet’s suffering when it comes time. And my husband and I are willing plan to keep ourselves open to that next cat needing a good home and lots of love and attention.
I will leave you with Cleveland Amory’s words, “Unlike some people who have experienced the loss of an animal, I did not believe, even for a moment, that I would never get another. I did know full well that there were just too many animals out there in need of homes for me to take what I have always regarded as the self-indulgent road of saying the heartbreak of the loss of an animal was too much ever to want to go through with it again.
To me, such an admission brought up the far more powerful admission that all the wonderful times you had with your animal were not worth the unhappiness at the end.”