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Farewell, Moose

The Day: Farewell, Fine Cat
by Tina Kelley

The lap feels awfully empty today.

Moose, my 20-year-old cat, made her last visit to the vet yesterday. The cause of death was kidney failure, helped along by a carefully administered overdose of anesthesia.

Dr. Marc Levine of South Orange, who is well-recommended by Maplewood Online, said sometimes the best gift you can give a pet is a good death. I guess that’s what we did. I will likely second-guess myself, thinking I should have taken her in more often, before she started acting sick, but I’m glad we didn’t put her through too many heroic measures at the end.

We didn’t have to fight with her, or about her. She took her medicines pretty well. She mercifully spared us the conversation I had been dreading with my husband over one simple question: Do you put a terminally ill cat down when she is perfectly companionable and warms your lap for hours a day, but seems to have forgotten where the potty box is? Worded otherwise, is her quality of life high enough to excuse a house that smells like, well, sick cat?

I almost wish I had let her outside during those last six weeks, like one commenter, Harry, did when his cat was deemed “terminal.” But I didn’t want her running off and getting hurt or lost.

In the end, I could tell from Dr. Levine that although this was our call, it wasn’t very difficult, at least medically. The level of toxins in her blood “weren’t compatible with life” six weeks ago, he said, implying that even if we insisted on making Moose soldier on, she was basically shutting down.

It is of course hard to explain to my daughter, who is quite busted up about it, but I suppose it’s one of those necessary life lessons. That’s why the preschool had hamsters and fish, instead of turtles, the teacher once explained. The life cycle, and its cursed brevity, is as important to know about as subtraction.

So now we’ll find a place for her in the garden, maybe under one of those Knockout roses Theresa Burns says is fool-proof, and she’ll be outside, and at rest, after a long, well-lived life that gave our family so much comfort and companionship. I hope we did the same for her.

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