Hello and Goodbye

Sooooo….my favorite cat died this week.

I read a quote from John Updike recently (in a great article in NY Magazine about people and their dogs) that said, ““Sometimes it seems the whole purpose of pets is to bring death into the house.” Kinda harsh, but true. They don’t live as long as we do so their mortality is always hovering in the back of our minds, almost as soon as they arrive. In what seems like a very short period of time, they go from this:

To this:

To this:


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 was so important to me that I tattooed his name on my arm. I know that it’s corny to tattoo a pet’s name, but he deserved it. He was simply the coolest feline in town, and the friends that got to know him agreed that he was worthy of the tribute. But I know many of us feel that way about our pets, so I am under no illusion that my cat was more magical than yours. He just was to me.

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.


And then one day he refused all food and went into a corner and slept with his back to the room. He would respond when touched but wouldn’t look at me. And when he did rise to use the litter box or drink the water I proffered, he was wobbly on his feet. I thought sadly, “all right, here it comes“, as he lay sleeping in that one spot for two days.

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 up at 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. 


There are posters all over the East Village right now for a missing dog named Sammy. Every day new posters go up and my heart breaks for the owner, it’s obvious from the constancy that these are distraught and determined people. I wonder what happened. Did they stupidly leave him tied up outside to be stolen? Did he have a moment of exuberance and break free and run away on the street? I can’t imagine what it must be like not to know whether your animal is safe or in distress (I can’t even touch on missing children or this blog will never end), or whether they are alive or dead. 
So to be able to know this amazing creature, to be the one assigned the privilege of ensuring that he remained comfortable and happy throughout his life, and then to hold his head in my hand as he left his body in the most peaceful manner possible, is an absolute gift. 
So yeah, pretty grateful. I hope everyone is having a good summer.
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19 thoughts on “Hello and Goodbye”

  1. Again, so sorry for your loss. That Updike quote makes a lot of sense. I had been trying to avoid that “in house” mortality thing, but last year I took in a 10 year old ailing dog. A lame Chihuahua/Pom named Bambi. I know she doesn't have long to go, but she is bringing me a lot of love and I can't even imagine her going. How hard it must be for you to have brought Monty up from a kitten and then have him leave you. My heart goes out to you, Raff. xoxo

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  2. Oh Mary,reading the end of this story has left me sitting here in tears…flashing me back to this point in time June of last year.

    Such a painful decision but one we make for the good of them. Our last unselfish act for them.

    Hugs to you my friend, although they may be more for me right now…lol

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  3. You know how sorry I am for you both.You mention a quote”“Sometimes it seems the whole purpose of pets is to bring death into the house.” I had the opposite experience. When my mom was stricken with sudden incurable brain cancer she had a min pin that was 2 years old, who I happily took as my mom passed away. From that moment she brought life into my life…for the next 16 years. Her last 2 years she was both blind and deaf as i happily became a seeing eye person for her, though I had friends tell me she lived a long life and i should put her down. You don't do that with blind people. Though she couldn't see me she always knew when i came home as her little tail would wag and wag away and god forbid if she missed a meal…always hungry. It was the least i could do…to take care of her as she gave me such unconditional love for over a decade, aside from being a direct link to my mom. My vet said I would know when her time had come, and i did, just before she was 18.I felt I was no longer doing what I lived for all that time to do…make her happy, safe and her life better and that she was by then suffering. I wrapped her in a blanket (it was a December morning) and took Bonnie a block away to the vet to send her on her way, with a friend as support. Kissing her goodbye was the hardest thing I've ever done, but I left the room, as i wanted to remember her as alive. This was 6 years ago and there is not ONE day that goes by that I don't think of her and you know I have Kona now for 5 1/2 years who I love maybe even more…but i have pictures of Bonnie in every room in my apartment, including a minpin clock in my bathroom to this very day. I would never get a minpin again as I would always be comparing Bonnie to the new dog……and that's not fair to Bonnie, me or my new dog.
    Her leaving this dimension created such a gap in my world and I filled it very quickly. I still miss her so much. Bonnie will always have my love and i give it to Kona now.
    Funny how they both speak or spoke back to me in the same voice. I asked Kona why that is. She said “Daddy, of course we sound the same. You taught us both how to speak!” (smart alec)
    Bless both you, Drew, and Monty and Bonnie too. Never did Bonnie bring death into my life. She brought love, affection, and unconditional loyalty and forgiveness to me for 16 years…something I'll never get from any person….except Kona.
    Peace & Light,
    Electric Dave & his animal family

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  4. You know how sorry I am for you both.You mention a quote”“Sometimes it seems the whole purpose of pets is to bring death into the house.” I had the opposite experience. When my mom was stricken with sudden incurable brain cancer she had a min pin that was 2 years old, who I happily took as my mom passed away. From that moment she brought life into my life…for the next 16 years. Her last 2 years she was both blind and deaf as i happily became a seeing eye person for her, though I had friends tell me she lived a long life and i should put her down. You don't do that with blind people. Though she couldn't see me she always knew when i came home as her little tail would wag and wag away and god forbid if she missed a meal…always hungry. It was the least i could do…to take care of her as she gave me such unconditional love for over a decade, aside from being a direct link to my mom. My vet said I would know when her time had come, and i did, just before she was 18.I felt I was no longer doing what I lived for all that time to do…make her happy, safe and her life better and that she was by then suffering. I wrapped her in a blanket (it was a December morning) and took Bonnie a block away to the vet to send her on her way, with a friend as support. Kissing her goodbye was the hardest thing I've ever done, but I left the room, as i wanted to remember her as alive. This was 6 years ago and there is not ONE day that goes by that I don't think of her and you know I have Kona now for 5 1/2 years who I love maybe even more…but i have pictures of Bonnie in every room in my apartment, including a minpin clock in my bathroom to this very day. I would never get a minpin again as I would always be comparing Bonnie to the new dog……and that's not fair to Bonnie, me or my new dog.
    Her leaving this dimension created such a gap in my world and I filled it very quickly. I still miss her so much. Bonnie will always have my love and i give it to Kona now.
    Funny how they both speak or spoke back to me in the same voice. I asked Kona why that is. She said “Daddy, of course we sound the same. You taught us both how to speak!” (smart alec)
    Bless both you, Drew, and Monty and Bonnie too. Never did Bonnie bring death into my life. She brought love, affection, and unconditional loyalty and forgiveness to me for 16 years…something I'll never get from any person….except Kona.
    Peace & Light,
    Electric Dave & his animal family

    Like

  5. While I'm crying tears for you and your Monty, my little Pandora is alternating ramming her head into my armpit then hollering into my right ear, as it's her dinnertime. I admire you and Drew for your mindful awareness that time was growing short, so when the time came, there was no agonizing or delaying or denial. I hope I am as brave as you when I have to do the same for my little girlcat, hopefully years and years in the future. Today, I think she'll get a little extra dinner then a good long sleep on mommy's tummy this evening.

    Thank you for the wonderful and thoughtful blogs. They always make me think.

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  6. Ah, Raff … so very, very sorry. And this time it was The Fabulous Monty – RIP. 😦 (Man, these eclipses have been a BITCH for everyone, I tell you.)

    You know how I feel about this (see your other very sweet darling-pet-blog-“goodbye”), so you know that Monty knows that you worshipped and adored him, as he did you, but that it was just his time to go.

    Again, good on you for seeing him out lovingly and honourably – he lives, forever, in your very tender heart.
    XOX
    Carla

    Like

  7. Thanks for sharing this link, but unfortunately it seems to be down… Does anybody have a mirror or another source? Please reply to my post if you do!

    I would appreciate if a staff member here at darkladymissanthrope.blogspot.com could post it.

    Thanks,
    Thomas

    Like

  8. Hi Thomas,

    There's no staff, it's just me!

    I posted this a few months back so I think any links to that lost dog are down by now. I haven't seen flyers on the street in a long time, hopefully they found him.

    xo
    Raff

    Like

  9. You express so very well, (in a nutshell) the pet 2 pet owner experience & relationship!

    June 27th, I lost my dog Whitney, of 13yrs!
    She was a shepherd/pit mix & passed away at the animal hospital, literally moments before she was herself, to be euthanized.

    I'd just read this here blog, 'bout your pet & friend Monty, for the first time today.
    I too, am sorry for you & Drew losing him! From what I can tell however..He was very much loved by you both & through out his life here..could not have been in better hands.

    Kindest regards,
    Armando

    Like

  10. Hello there,

    This is a question for the webmaster/admin here at darkladymissanthrope.blogspot.com.

    Can I use part of the information from your post above if I give a backlink back to this site?

    Thanks,
    James

    Like

  11. Greetings,

    I have a message for the webmaster/admin here at darkladymissanthrope.blogspot.com.

    May I use some of the information from your blog post right above if I provide a backlink back to this website?

    Thanks,
    Harry

    Like

  12. Hi,

    Thanks for sharing the link – but unfortunately it seems to be not working? Does anybody here at darkladymissanthrope.blogspot.com have a mirror or another source?

    Thanks,
    Charlie

    Like

  13. Good day! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could locate a captcha plugin for my comment form? I'm using the same blog platform as yours and I'm having problems finding one? Thanks a lot!

    Like

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