It's Been a Good Run

It's funny how when death comes, it's not what you think it will be.

This is it for Desi. Poor cat.

I've joked about her in the past and what a shitty pet she's generally been, what with the hissing and the hairball puke all over the rug and the trying to eat anyone who comes through the door. But for 16 years and 7 months she's been my shitty pet.

Saturday morning I took the old girl to the vet, after realizing she hadn't touched her food (unheard of) in ages and seemingly of nowhere, she's become just a wisp of her former gloriously obese self. She's not quite walking straight, her fur is spiking out in unnatural angles, and she's certainly lost her feisty streak. When I nudged her off the coffee table, she didn't let out that trademark toxic hiss--just stumbled and landed on her side before scuttling away, defeated.

And then there's the matter of the fist-sized growth on her back.

It's time.

I walked back into the apartment, trailing big clumps of black cat hair behind me as I confirmed the prognosis with Nate. The doctor had given her a steroid shot to ease the pain until we could make the decision to let her go and that decision should be made sooner than later.

Never did I expect to be this emotional, to burst into tears as I relayed the information. I suppose I have spent a lot of time thinking what a burden Desi was, and really very little thinking what things would be like without her. How I'd miss those nights alone in bed when, like a magical stuffed animal who comes to life just for a child, Desi would curl up on my chest, lick my neck and purr herself to sleep, releasing the sweet inner kitten she revealed only ever to me.

I set down in the duffel with which I had transported the cat, while Thalia, who loves every unlovable beast on this planet, squealed and scurried up to pet her. As if Desi were still fat and healthy. As if she had ever reciprocated Thalia's affections even one bit. Thalia never saw her as others did. Thalia never questioned whether Desi was worthy of her love--she just loved her.

"Desi, doctor," she said as she pressed her face against Desi's mangy fur in an that cheek-hug that toddler's do.

"That's right, Thalia. Desi is feeling sick and so we took her to the doctor."

"Desi, doctor."

"That's right."

"Desi alllllll better."

"Yes, sweetie. Soon she'll be all better."

Probably tomorrow.

Better days


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about your cat. It is always a tough decision even if she wasnt the happiest cat in the world.

8/8/07, 3:36 PM  
Blogger Cynthia said...

Sooo sorry. I have a big furry crabmonster myself, what a hard thing to have to do...My condolences...

8/8/07, 3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a hard choice, but I think ultimately it's the braver, more loving one. Sorry you lost her, but glad you loved her enough to let her go.

8/8/07, 3:53 PM  
Blogger zchamu said...

I swear, it's the hardest thing ever to do. I had to put my 9 month old kitten to sleep years ago, and I still think of that day as one of the most difficult of my life.

She knew you loved her, even if she was an enormous pain in the rear. She had a good life.

8/8/07, 4:00 PM  
Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Oh, I'm so sorry. My cats were my first babies. I understand and I know how hard this is.

8/8/07, 4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Poor Desi. Glad you're all getting your snuggles in.

8/8/07, 4:09 PM  
Blogger Namito said...

Oh, that hurts.

I know.

Huge hug.

8/8/07, 4:12 PM  
Blogger NG said...

I'm so sorry. I have a "Desi" too... same satanic temperament, same propensity to barf over everything, same unlovable demeanor... and yet I know when I have to make this decision, it will be heart wrenching. Feeling for you.

8/8/07, 4:15 PM  
Blogger mamatulip said...

Aw, sweetie.

I'm sorry.

Thinkin' of you.

8/8/07, 4:15 PM  
Blogger Diatribal said...

Hug her tight. I'm so sorry.

8/8/07, 4:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm really sorry, letting a pet go, even when it's the right thing to do, is so hard. They're members of our families. Hugs to you.

8/8/07, 4:20 PM  
Blogger Blog Antagonist said...

Awww...that's really hard. In the last ten years I've had to put down two cats and it was torture every time.

I'm so sorry about your Desi.

8/8/07, 4:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone who was raised with no real pets at all (save for an arthritic parakeet who only loved my father), nothing surprised me more than how easily I became to the animals that were a very natural part of my fiance-now-husband's life. How very easily they get under your skin and become one of the family, even when they stop exhibiting the traits that made you fall in love with them in the first place. The death of every cat we've had has been a surprisingly big blow for me. Even when their death comes from doing what the doctor says is best for them. There's going to be a Desi-sized hole in the world this week and I can't tell you how sorry that makes me. Hugs to you.

8/8/07, 4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how easily I became ATTACHED. Hands too fast. Brain too slow.

8/8/07, 4:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry, Liz. 16.5 years is long enough to get pretty damn attached. Peace.

8/8/07, 4:31 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

Poor Desi. It's hell gettin' old. 16.5 years? I'd say that's a helluva good run.

8/8/07, 4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry about Desi. I had to put our much-loved dog down earlier this year and it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

Sending you hugs.

8/8/07, 4:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm so sorry. What a hard thing to have to do.

8/8/07, 5:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ugh, that's tough. I live in stark denial that my pets -- the firstborn to my wife and I -- aren't immortal, and I can't imagine how hard it must be to have to say goodbye.

8/8/07, 5:12 PM  
Blogger kirida said...

Oh dear. I'm sorry you have to do this. But Desi was very lucky to have very wonderful owners.

8/8/07, 5:17 PM  
Blogger Lara said...


i'm sure there's a special seat in cat-bitch heaven just for her. frankly, it's where i'm hoping to go when i die, too.

hugs to you.

8/8/07, 5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aww. I am sorry to hear that. I don't get very attached to animals, but I am always sad to see them go.

But 16.5 years? Damn. That was one lucky, 9-lived cat.

8/8/07, 5:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So sorry :-(

8/8/07, 5:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know if you saw my post "Good night, my princess of Kansas City," but I had to put down my beloved 18-year-old Sybil Louise in June. Almost killed me. I feel for you, babe.

8/8/07, 5:43 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Speaking as a woman who has the cremated ashes 0f her 20 year old cat "Nutso" in her closet and who moves said ashes from place to place since he died in 1994?

I feel ya, babe.

Or maybe I just unwittingly revealed myself to be super strange.

8/8/07, 5:57 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

The first time I ever saw my father cry was the day we put my first dog to sleep. I was 13, and we'd had her long before I was born.

Thalia will remember her, and so will you.

8/8/07, 6:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry, Liz. :(

8/8/07, 6:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aw Liz, I'm so sorry :(

Even delinquent cats are hard to say goodbye to.

I'm thinking of you.

8/8/07, 6:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh no. I'm so sorry about your furry babe. The ONLY time I've seen my dad cry was when our family dog died. Not even when his own parents died. Pets are so special.

8/8/07, 7:00 PM  
Blogger Blog Owner said...

One of my cats snuggled next to me in bed this morning, then when I got up to go to the bathroom (too much information, I think not), I came back and he was completely centered on my pillow, having stolen my entire spot in bed. I thought about taking a picture of him right there because no matter how they drive you nuts, they're still yours.

I am soooo very sorry for your loss.

8/8/07, 7:15 PM  
Blogger S said...

I'm so sorry, Liz.

8/8/07, 7:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, Liz. It is never easy to lose a pet. I'm thinking of you and your family.

8/8/07, 7:42 PM  
Blogger Jonathon Morgan said...

Aw, man. Losing pets is awful. I hope you guys are doin' alright!

8/8/07, 7:45 PM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

I get it. I really do. Even though Des hated my ankles too. She was YOUR cat for sure. I would always be amazed to see you scoop her up and hold her or pet her; it was if she transformed before my very eyes into a sweet pet. The fact that she was always gentle and safe with Thalia also proves to me that she knew to be careful with the one most important to your heart. I'm so sorry for you and hope Desi gets to spend eternity in a comfy space, with a big window through which to watch things.

8/8/07, 7:54 PM  
Blogger AndreAnna said...

I recently lost the dog I grew up with.

It is so sad to lose a pet.

Hope you feel better soon.

8/8/07, 7:54 PM  
Blogger Marty, a.k.a. canape said...

I am so, so, so sorry.

Today I'm crying extra tears for you because I have sat and held the head of a pet that I had to let go. And I'm glad I was there until the very end.

It is so hard to say goodbye even when it is absolutely the right thing to do.

8/8/07, 8:01 PM  
Blogger Julie Marsh said...

I'm so sorry. Amazing how quickly they go downhill, isn't it?

And it's always sad. No matter how irritating they could be over the course of daily life, it's not easy to let them go.

8/8/07, 8:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have only seen my husband cry once...when we had to put our 17 year old dog to rest. Knowing it is the best thing for the pet doesn't makeit any easier. I am so sorry for you and Desi.

8/8/07, 8:27 PM  
Blogger tracey.becker1@gmail.com said...

So sorry... Doesn't matter how crotchety she was: she's your cat. My condolences...

8/8/07, 8:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Noooo. Ack.

So sorry. Wishing her a sunny spot to rest in.

8/8/07, 9:03 PM  
Blogger Debbie said...

I'm sorry, Liz.


8/8/07, 9:55 PM  
Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said...

I am so sorry, Liz. I just lost (literally, have no idea what happened to him) a cat, one who pissed on my bed more times than I can count and routinely bit me if I stroked him for too long, and the loss is horrible. It's one of those loves that we're not supposed to feel so profoundly, they are just animals (not my words), but we do. Even if they are insufferable little shits.

8/8/07, 10:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter how right it is, it still hurts. Your post hit home because I'm approaching a time when I know I'll be also faced with making the same decision. Thalia may not be old enough, but there is a really great book called Cat Heaven by Cynthia Rylant. I got it when we had to euthanize our cat Loki two years ago - it was good for me AND my (at the time) 5 year old daughter (there is also one called Dog Heaven for dog owners).

8/8/07, 10:23 PM  
Blogger Motherhood Uncensored said...

Every time I met Desi she hissed at me.

I will miss it.

I really will.

8/8/07, 11:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry.

I can't type any more because I have this overwhelming need to bury my face in my dog's belly.

I wish I could hug ya Liz....

8/8/07, 11:11 PM  
Blogger yoo hoo said...

ditto, what everyone else said.

8/8/07, 11:13 PM  
Blogger David Wen said...

I love and find it fascinating how pets fill such a huge void in our lives.

8/8/07, 11:53 PM  
Blogger Jaelithe said...

I have been here.

And it sucks.

Hugs to you, and the girls, and Desdemona.

8/9/07, 12:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heartbreaking. I'm sorry you're losing your kitty. Putting down my dog was singularly the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.

Many hugs to you and Nate and the kids...I know she is part of the family.

8/9/07, 12:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

heartbreaking :(

8/9/07, 2:19 AM  
Blogger ms blue said...

I'm so sorry. The events of those 16 years have encompassed a whole lot. I'm sure Desi has enjoyed all of them especially because she was a real character.

8/9/07, 2:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll be thinking of you all.

This has got to be one of the hardest things to do as a pet owner, but they do let you know when it is time.

And when it is, we, like you are here, have to do what's best for them. No matter how much we will miss them.

That's the really hard part.

8/9/07, 8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry about your kitty; the crankiest ones in public can be the most loving ones in private.

8/9/07, 9:24 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Of course it hurts. She may be crabby, but she's been a member of your family for 16 years. It's tough to say goodbye to someone you've lived with for so long.

I had a mean old cat who only had moments of sweetness. He bit everyone. But when he had to be put down for renal failure, I cried. Even with a scar on my foot left by him on a particularly crabby day, I still cried.

8/9/07, 9:30 AM  
Blogger LJ said...

We had to put our cat of 18 years, Mr. Kitty, to sleep last October, and it was by a country mile the saddest day(s) of my life. My wife and I have been together since 1988 and this was the first time she'd seen me cry. I'll make sure to have a beer and a tuna steak in rememberence of Desi.

8/9/07, 10:42 AM  
Blogger Magpie said...

Poor kitty. I'm so sorry.

8/9/07, 11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry. Losing a pet is never easy.

8/9/07, 12:47 PM  
Blogger Jenny said...

I'm so sorry. It's amazing how much our hearts love our pets. I know just how you feel, and I wish you comfort during this time.

8/9/07, 1:12 PM  
Blogger Lady M said...

Sniff. I'm sorry about Desi.

8/9/07, 1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, hon, I am so sorry. Been there with my dog of 11 years, longer than I had known my husband at the time. It is so tough.

Take care of yourself, and blessings on Desi's cantankerous soul.

8/9/07, 1:58 PM  
Blogger Binky said...

I hate the short life span of pets. I'm sorry to hear that it's Desi's time.

8/9/07, 2:21 PM  
Blogger Kyla said...

Oh, I'm sorry Liz.

8/9/07, 2:44 PM  
Blogger Heather Hartwig said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.

8/9/07, 4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't even know I loved my mom's cat until I had to go in to have her put down. She was 17 years old... and I don't even think she was a cat, we've all decided she was probably at least part badger.

I felt bad when the vet went to get me tissues. I kept thinking to myself "The vet thinks she's putting down my best friend. I don't even LIKE this cat!"

I still cried, it's still hard.

8/9/07, 4:46 PM  
Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

Aww. You made me cry and I don't even like cats. Poor Desi. Poor Liz.

8/9/07, 4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, very sorry.

8/9/07, 6:54 PM  
Blogger Hol said...

I'm so sorry. I'll be thinking of you and your family.

8/9/07, 7:23 PM  
Blogger Ruth Dynamite said...

Sorry, Liz. No one imagines this day, but for pets, it always seems to come too soon.

8/9/07, 8:19 PM  
Blogger b*babbler said...

Oh gosh, I'm so very very sorry... Even if the pet is evil incarnate, it is still can hurt terribly.

I'll be thinking of you tomorrow.

8/9/07, 9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh i'm so sorry to hear about this. we had a similar story with our long-ago black cat. nothing prepares you for how hard it will be. i was flattened. love to you all.

8/10/07, 11:57 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Just last week we had to make a similar decision with our Mell. Similar emotions involved as well. I don't miss the constant vomiting and the stray poops that found their way around our house (poor constipated boy). But I sure do miss his obnoxious have to be in my lap or sleep on my head at night antics.

Our 4 year old is still asking if Mell is coming home, even though we repeat every time that 'no honey, Mell was sick and died.' Also not comfortable with the heaven bit, although my husband did tell him that.

So sorry for your loss, please know there are many of us out there that understand.

8/11/07, 10:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So very sory to hear about your cat Liz. Losing a member of the family like Desi is never easy. Big hugs.

8/12/07, 10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Liz -

i'll admit to not reading your blog daily, but i can relate to the loss of a loved pet.

Two summers ago, my beloved dogs Omega (at age 7), and Mutty (age 15), died within six weeks of each other, and it's still devastating, especially with Omega who got sick despite her youth and we watched her fight to live before it became apparent it was time to end her suffering.

thoughts and best wishes to you and your family...

8/12/07, 3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh hon, I am so sorry. I had a cat like that... everyone else thought he was awful but with me, in private, he was my big sweetie. I lost him three years ago.

It's funny how the ones we are bonded with are the ones we grumble about most (and the cats grumble, too). You being with her probably made all the difference.

8/13/07, 6:12 PM  
Blogger A. T. said...

I'm so sorry. I know one day I'll have to say goodbye to my sweet Simba, he's been with me for 10 years now.

8/15/07, 9:43 PM  

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