Before he got sick, Snalbert was a fabulous companion, joining us at the dinner table, on the sofa, or wherever we were. He had loads of personality, a loud voice, handsome looks, a love of people food, and a penchant for helping himself to carbohydrates and my laptop in the middle of the night. We miss him terribly.
We found out at the vet on Tuesday that he was severely anemic in addition to his worsening heart failure and kidney disease. There's a drug we could have tried, but our vet told us that she thought it would take too long to make a difference, and that he simply had too many problems to treat successfully all at once. With anemia that severe, cat can have convulsions, and we didn't want that for Bertie. And we also knew he wasn't really enjoying life anymore. So we had to act before his discomfort got any worse. The horrible decision was made more horrible by the way Bertie was purring at the time.
We were too upset to be there for the last moments. I was such an emotional mess that I knew I'd alarm him so I left to pace on the sidewalk. I'd already said my goodbyes at home. One of the assistants brought me an envelope holding a clipping of his wonderful Persian fur. My husband said his goodbyes, kissed him, and stroked him. And then our vet took over.
She sent us flowers today, a beautiful little bouquet with a sympathy note.* When we called to thank her, she told us that Bertie had been purring and alert with her, nuzzling her to be petted. She said it was almost like he was helping her. She wanted to give him a sedative before the final injection, to relax him. She was able to inject the sedative into his front leg without anyone to hold him, the first time she's ever be able to do that to a cat without assistance. He didn't flinch. She said he slipped away easily, and that she was sure it was the right time. She said she was grateful she could give him this final gift. We thanked her for being such a marvelous vet.
We're so lucky we had Bertie for almost 17 years. We're so lucky we have Wendy and Possum now; they are a great comfort, as we always knew they would be at this sad time. We're lucky to have understanding friends and a terrific cat hospital team, and I'm grateful to my readers for their sympathetic messages and good advice. Thank you!
* She told us that, after she ordered the flowers, she called the florist back and told them to make sure there were NO lilies in the arrangement. She said she could just imagine... a bouquet of toxic flowers arriving into a house that's just lost a cat. She doesn't know that I went to the arrangement after we spoke, took a closer look, pulled out four miniature calla lilies, and took them outside. Wendy and Possum don't care for flowers, and I had this arrangement out of reach, on the mantel. Even so... Snalbert loved chomping on flowers and Christmas trees, and I could almost feel his spirit eyeing the arrangement hungrily.