To my cat, before you die.

Dear Max,

You might not know this, but you weren’t the cat I was supposed to receive for my 16th birthday. My Mom had put a deposit on the orange tabby I had my heart set on, but the store sold it to someone else anyway. My Mom was really upset, and desperately had to find me a replacement cat for my birthday .

That replacement, was you.

She got you at a veterinary clinic. Your litter had been found abandoned on the side of the road in a cardboard box, and the vet was determined to find you all homes. You were the deepest smokey grey, with white belly and paws – but we couldn’t see your beauty up front. You were wild and mangy looking at first, with a nasty flea infestation and a slightly feral attitude. I had to give you a flea bath on your first day home, and you bit down hard on my nose. You weren’t cuddly. You were feisty and determined to do things your way. Us humans were your own personal climbing gyms, and you would claw and climb your way up to our shoulders, ignoring the wincing shrieks of pain your claws caused us. We were your means for food, and not much more.

But I loved you anyway. You weren’t the orange tabby I dreamed of, but you were mine – attitude problem and all.

But it was your attitude problem that almost killed you about 7 years ago. You see, when most cats fall sick, they become nasty and get a “don’t touch me” type of demeanor about them. This was normal for you though, so we didn’t notice you were sick until it was almost too late. We called you for dinner one night, and you didn’t come. That was our warning sign – you loved your dinner, and since you weren’t there in 2.5 seconds flat we knew something was wrong.

We found you in the basement, nearly unresponsive. The crystals that had formed in your bladder had taken over, and it was starting to affect your heart. You weren’t wanting to move and were in an incredible amount of pain. We rushed you to the emergency clinic and they had to catheterize you without anaesthesia – your heart was too weak to handle it. I could hear you scream in pain. You were in an incubator for oxygen, and you looked like you lost your fight. The vet told us that there was a high chance you would not make it through the night. I went outside, sat on the curb and cried.

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But I underestimated you. You ripped out your catheter 2-3 different times and had to have it put back in. You were in the veterinary hospital for nearly a week and were on what seemed to be a million different medications. And you fought.

That’s when we noticed a change in you…

Every day we came to visit you in the cat hospital, you perked up. Somehow you knew at that point we weren’t just your mealtime tickets. We were your people. You actually seemed happy to see us – you purred at our touch. You cuddled. You gave kisses. You were a changed cat.

It was as if your near death experience helped you realize that we wouldn’t abandon you in a cardboard box on the side of the road as had happened to you once before. You knew that you were loved, and we would do anything to look after you.

You made it through your illness, and when you came home it was as if we had a new start with you. You now loved to crawl onto my Dad’s lap for naps, slept in my Mom’s bed with her, and craved attention from whoever would provide it. Instead of secluding yourself, you were social and would lounge in the living room with the rest of the family. You made friends with the dogs, and loved to play “cat soccer” with my Dad.

It took you nearly dying for you to realize we loved you.

You don’t know it yet Max, but Wednesday will be your last day on this earth. You’re almost 15 years old now. You have lost a drastic amount of weight, and when we pet you we feel your bones now instead of the manly tubby tummy you once had. You are lethargic all the time, and you’ve lost control of your bladder. The vet thinks it is your kidneys, and that at your age it isn’t fair to have you suffering. We love you enough to ease that pain for you. We love you enough to say goodbye, even though we will likely cry.

You weren’t the cat I was supposed to receive on my 16th birthday, but you were the one who needed us. You needed us to teach you that trusting people was ok. That the right people would love you and do anything to ease your pain.

And it turns out that you were the cat we needed, too. We needed you to teach us patience. To teach us to look past initial mangy feral appearances to see the gorgeous boy that you are. To teach us that even the fiercest of creatures are deserving of love, and can change if they receive it unconditionally. To show us that a rescue found on the side of the road in a cardboard box could end up being the sweet natured boy who nestles in our laps for a cuddle.

You weren’t the cat I was supposed to receive on my 16th birthday, and now at nearly 31 years old, I don’t want to say goodbye.

Wednesday is coming too quickly, my fiesty friend.

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52 thoughts on “To my cat, before you die.

  1. So sorry to hear that J, I cried reading this blog, because we have a cat Nikita who is 15 and has lost weight aswell and I don’t want to think about her not being here!! She is not in pain just getting old.

    And the your kitty is the kitty you were to get, because he needed you more than you needed him. Everything happens for a reason and I truly believe that. It’s like that song un-answered prayers, sometimes things don’t happen the way we want or expect, but it happens that way for a reason and you find out later that this is how it was suppose to go.
    I will be thinking of you guys and Max on Wednesday !! Xoxo

  2. Your story really touched my heart. A month after I turned 15 I got a cat, she was the runt of the litter but she was my princess. When she was 16 years old she became sick and passed away over night. I had her for over half my life, she was always with me – when I first moved away from home, when I got married, when I had my kids. I’m so sorry that your family is going through this.

  3. I hope you find strength, and i fear the day i have to say bye to my own little guy…
    ❤ Im touched at how much you learned to love each other… Take care

  4. I know today is the day you have been dreading, and I cannot begin to understand what you must be feeling, but know that he trusts you to do what is right for him, and this is what is right. Every living thing deserves to live and die with dignity and love; you have let him live with dignity and love and now you are also giving him the means to die that way too. Stay strong and never forget the lessons he has taught you. That is his legacy.

    • Thank you so much for your comment (even though it did make me tear up when I read that he trusts me to do what is right…).
      I agree that he does deserve dignity and love, but it doesn’t make it any easier.
      I’m not looking forward to this evening… 😦

  5. Reading this was hard for me not to cry, im deeply sorry for what you will have to go through, can you tell him that we all love him and we will see him again one day , if only we could turn back time, thinking of you in these sad days ahead, it was good to have a picture of him as well, david neish

  6. I am very sorry for your situation. For anyone that has loved and lost a furry family member we understand what you are going through. It is never easy to say goodbye to a loved one but deep down you know that you are doing the right thing by Max. He will understand and be grateful that you are ending his suffering. You are both lucky to have found each other and to have shared such an incredible bond of love. You are in my thoughts. Take care (hugs)

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  8. So sad to hear most of the story. But glad you tw shared many happy years together. May that gorgeous cat rest in peace, and in a world where pain isnt a part of. Best wishes for you.

  9. Saying good-bye to a special fur-baby is never easy, try to take comfort in knowing that Max will not be in pain anymore. I, too, had to make a similar decision years ago and it is not an easy thing to do. My daughter went through the same thing just a year ago, it’s never easy! Remember that Max loves you and this is your final way of showing your love and respect for him. God bless and may your dear Max rest in peace! Hugs to you!

  10. It will be difficult…and by the time you read this he will probably be gone….when I had to take my furbaby in (Casey, my miniature Schnauzer) the Dr. told me it was unfair to prolong his pain (Pancreatic Cancer) and I had to let him go…not a day goes by they I don’t think about him….they know when it is time and I think they don’t want to tell us as they know we ill be a mess…and they couldn’t have that! Take care and remember ll the happy memories…AND thank you for sharing.

  11. It’s never easy to say goodbye to our loved ones, including our furrbabies. I’ve done it before and will do it again when I need to say goodbye to my 3 furrbabies someday. ((Hugs)) and prayers to you and your family on your difficult day. Know in your heart that you are doing the right thing. ❤

  12. OK, I am actually crying as I read this. I have a 24 year old cat who comes every morning for her breakfast and snuzzles with me every afternoon. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find her the past two days and I am fearing the worst. She has been a part of our lives for so long, I am not ready to say good bye.
    You wrote this so eloquently. It is amazing what our animals teach us. We are so lucky that they let us into their lives. Thank you for sharing this. I am sure it was difficult to write.

  13. This post seriously broke my heart. You wrote it so beautifully though. As much as I hate the idea of putting down any animal, I know you are easing his pain and helping him pass through that rainbow bridge in the sky. You know some day he will be waiting for you when you arrive. He isn’t gone forever. I am so so sorry this is happening but you are so very strong. This is just a gorgeous post and you so eloquently spoke in such a time of pain. Your strength is evident. I hope you don’t mind me featuring it this week on our blog strut.

    Someone gave me a poem when my cat passed away. I wish I could find the exact one but I hope this helps you as much as it did me:

    I STOOD BY YOUR BED – Author Unknown

    I stood by your bed last night,
    I came to have a peep.
    I could see that you were crying,
    You found it hard to sleep.

    I whined to you softly
    As you brushed away a tear,
    “It’s me, I haven’t left you,
    I’m well, I’m fine, I’m here.”

    I was close to you at breakfast,
    I watched you pour the tea,
    You were thinking of the many times,
    Your hands reached down to me.

    I was with you at the shops today,
    Your arms were getting sore.
    I longed to take your parcels,
    I wish I could do more.

    I was with you at my grave today,
    You tend it with such care.
    I want to re-assure you,
    That I’m not lying there.

    I walked with you towards the house,
    As you fumbled for your key.
    I gently put my paw on you,
    I smiled and said “It’s me.”

    You looked so very tired,
    And sank into a chair,
    I tried so hard to let you know,
    That I was standing there.

    It’s possible for me,
    To be so near you every day.
    To say to you with certainty,
    “I never went away.”

    You sat there very quietly,
    Then smiled, I think you knew…
    In the stillness of that evening,
    I was very close to you.

    The day is over…
    I smile and watch you yawning,
    And say, “good-night my Roo,
    I’ll see you in the morning.”

    An when the time is right for you,
    To cross the brief divide,
    I’ll rush across to greet you,
    And we’ll stand, side by side.

    I have so many things to show you,
    There is so much for you to see.
    Be patient, live your journey out…
    Then come home to be with me.

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  18. Oh man, I am totally crying right now. I am so sorry for your loss. The last time I had to do that, I was much younger (I was 20, and so was my feisty, very intelligent cat). I have three middle-aged pets now (one dog, two cats), and even though I am much older now, I still feel too young and unprepared to deal with that situation when it comes. I love this post. Would you mind if I featured it on my blog?

    Emily

    • Thank you so much for your kind words and your understanding, Emily. It is definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
      I’d love it if you featured it, thank you so much. Maybe it can help others to realize that giving a rescue a chance is a wonderful gift! 🙂

  19. This really breaks my heart and makes me cry. I am so sorry! I know how you feel about losing your cat. I had to go through the same a couple of years ago. I am thinking of you! And I love the fact that you rescued your cat, all my pets are rescues too and they make me happy every single day! ❤

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