We had to put down our cat today. Now, at Christmas. As they drove him to the vet for a final shot, my remaining family members stood around and discussed the shapes on the window panes at the front of the house, desperate not to think about how awful it was.
He is only 6. We got him from a neighbour, who rescued a nest half full of kittens from a raccoon who was fostering a litter. A raccoon uncharacteristically too stupid to notice that grey and black kittens were not the same as fuzzy, bushy tailed kits. Our kitten looked like one of the runts, although he grew to be quite a muscular creature, with a large face. He fit in my cupped hands as we transported him across the road. He used to fall asleep midstride while playing, when he was tiny.
He played fetch. He chirped like a raccoon. He liked to turn on the taps and take a shower in the dripping water – it was his favourite thing to do with Patrick. He played with my hair, and laser pointers, and nerf balls. This year when my family brought in the Christmas tree, he bounded down the stairs in joy, batting the branches, and rubbing against it, as though the tree was a long lost climbable friend. He liked cream, but not raw meat. He loved knitting, or rather undoing it, and he loved shapes moving under blankets. He was tabby, grey and black, with enormous yellow eyes. This is his epitaph.
But with death every fault comes back to haunt the living. Why didn’t I play with him more? Did I invade his space too much? Did we feed him the wrong thing? Did he have a good life? Did he even want to stop suffering? Did he know there was nothing left that medicine could do? Did I sneak too much water into his food while he was sick? Why now? Why so young? Why, when he was so healthy otherwise?
I have a twisted sense of karma that pervades my interpretations. Was my good luck in the past month now turning to bad luck? It’s so selfish to even consider that I had anything to do with his illness, that it’s all about me. But I had such good luck with other things, with applications, with my flight, with my work, and now I must pay for it, I must pay heavily by absorbing the balancing evils.
He’s never going to have a trickle shower again, or chirp-chirp as he bounces around the room like a miniature stampede. It’s so wrong. I’m so sorry, my kitten. I’m so sorry. I will miss you so much. You saved us when we were sad. It feels so wrong, with you so young, to do this. I don’t know how to say goodbye.