How do you console a grown child who’s had to face one of the toughest decisions of her life?
Daughter Meredith called a couple of weeks ago to tell us she had decided it was time to say goodbye to Baby Kitty.
Miss Baby had been her furry companion for more than 14 years since Mere was in college at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and the long-haired tabby kitten made her way across the street to take up residence in their off-campus house.
Baby had adapted on moves from Wilmington to Salem to Lexington to Danville, Pa., and to her final home in Charleston, S.C.
And then it was time for her final car ride. Baby had kidney failure. She had been on different types of antibiotics for a couple of years to keep her going. Meredith was weighing what to do.
She wrote, “On my way home last night I stopped by the vet’s office and spoke with her. I was just inquiring about the cost of testing for antibiotics vs. cost of euthanasia… She didn’t try to convince me of spending more dollars to keep Baby going. That’s what I needed. She said, ‘We could do all of the testing available and you could spend all of the money in the world, but there’s no guarantee it will work.’
“And I think what helped the most was ‘Even though she doesn’t look sick, she is… If you look close enough, you can probably see it.’ ”
Our daughter admitted she cried herself to sleep while Baby curled up next to her for two nights. She reported her husband, Frederick, had been really good about it. “Read some pages to me from the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective books. Did the dishes without being asked…I’ve been saying all along that I wanted to get another kitty afterwards… He’s said all along ‘No, one – 3-year-old Katjie – is enough.’ But when I mentioned it yesterday, he said ‘How soon do you want to get it?’ ”
Meredith had the weekend to rub Baby Kitty’s belly while she slept and feed her tuna (for people, the only canned food she would eat) and treats.
On Monday, Baby didn’t go easily into that next world. She fought the anesthesia, showing one more time what a determined kitty she was.
“It still tears me up to think she was so resistant until the last moment and so mad that she couldn’t get outside,” Meredith wroite afterwards. “That little tip of her tail flicked out of irritation/frustration, even when the rest of her was groggy and unable to move.
“When I think about all the things that upset me about her (annoying meow so early in the morning, peeing on my lap – how many times?) not being able to have carpet in the house, the expensive vet bills to find out why she was doing all of that, it’s a relief.
“But when I think about all the great things (her fluffy softer-than-cotton-never-dirty-always-pristine-belly, her beautiful green eyes, her little skip when she saw me coming, head-butts when she was lovey, her quiet purr, our games of hide and seek, the silly trick I taught her to do, her upside-down-look-at-me-I’m-so-cute pose…) then I feel just awful.”
Bill and I had been able to see all of Baby’s best qualities one more time when we visited two weeks before that last ride. We knew it might be our final time together.
Baby Kitty had been the subject for several of my pet portraits over the years. She was such a beautiful cat, and so much personality. Most of all, she was family.
To adapt a line from the book and movie “Charlotte’s Web,” “Baby was some cat.”