Each stage contains its own merits. As a kitten he is too cute for words and you carry him around in one hand.and try to catch him as he topples off of chairs. As an adult cat he is involved in all the mundanities of home life, and the bond grows deeper as you discover all the entertaining qualities that make him (you think) more interesting and love-able than any other cat on the planet. And then in old age, you again try to catch him as he falls off the couch, and every time he lays on your lap or extends what we liked to call “the pleading paw” you remain conscious of the gift of his presence, because you know it is not one that you can keep forever.
Monty had been winding down for the last year with kidney disease. He ate less and less and got skinny and drank tons of water all the time. He was like a little old man. He slept a lot. He didn’t race around the house anymore. Never a graceful cat, he became more unsure of foot and although we chuckled when we heard him scale up the bed rather than leap, we also knew it was not the greatest of signs for his future.
In a moment of desperation I bought and cooked a steak and waved a piece under his nose. He opened his eyes and ate a small amount. It was a miracle, or at least the dog thought so because it meant everyone got steak for dinner. The next morning I woke upat 5 am to find Monty sitting on my pillow, staring down into my face. Drew jokingly said it was like Pet Cemetery, but I was ecstatic. Monty spent the morning sleeping on top of me like he used to do and I was loathe to move because I knew it might be the last time.
Which it was. Once we got out of bed he retired to the couch and went back to refusing all food, steak or otherwise. It seemed that he’d pulled himself together to have some last moments with us, and then it was back to the business of preparing to leave. He hung out on the couch all that night with Drew while he (Drew, not Monty) played video games, and I got up early in the morning and took Monty to the vet.
I had it in my head that we could let him go naturally, but the vet said that he was in kidney failure and that it could take weeks of him uncomfortably wasting away on the couch. Unacceptable. Or the vet could hydrate him and keep him going on fumes for a few weeks. Also unacceptable. Once he knew that I could handle it, he recommended that we put him down right then. I burst into tears and nodded my head and called Drew and told him to come immediately.
The vet left the room to allow me to wait alone with my cat, who started purring very loudly, something he hadn’t done in days. I know that cats do this under distress sometimes, but Monty was the mellowest of cats (Jesse once called him “a potato”), and in no real distress. He was always content of mind, just very, very tired in body. I felt that he was reassuring me that everything was okay, much as he had rallied to spend a morning together. Throughout his life he would come if I called his name or even just called it in my head, so I know he was, as all of our pets are, cognizant of what we picture in our brains. And it is my personal belief that animals are not nearly as attached to being in the body as people are, and sometimes they hang out for longer than they might because we want it so badly.
Drew arrived and told Monty he loved him, and the doctor came in and gave him (Monty, not Drew) the shot to anesthetize and then the shot to kill him. He was gone in a blink and what remained was very obviously just the shell. And then there was that part that is the most difficult: you are forced to walk out of the room and leave that defenseless little body behind, laying alone on a towel. You spend their whole lives making sure that those bodies are safe and comfortable and then you are obligated to turn your back and leave them. It’s so painful.