I can’t decide if I’m cold-blooded or practical. My cat Chloe is 18. She’s been slowing down a lot over the past two years. She’s lost weight (she was a big muscular girl) and no longer rips the window screens out and jumps out from the second floor to the awning and then the ground. My son no longer lives with me, my daughter and son-in-law also moved out of state this year. I can’t afford cremation. When she goes, it’ll be up to me to bury her in the cat graveyard at the back of the property where her buddy Cleo and my daughter’s cat are buried. Winter is coming. It was a nice day, so I dug a hole. Then I came back in the house, asked Chloe to climb in the box I have planned for her coffin, to see if she fits. She complied. I then took the box out to the hole (minus Chloe) and made sure it would fit. I filled another box with the loose dirt, and put it in the garage so I will have loose dirt to fill in with if this happens in the dead of winter.
Last week Chloe started having a bit of trouble walking. She still jumps to the window ledges and the counter. She still eats and poops in the box and keeps herself clean. But yesterday she started having a bit of trouble remembering where to pee. Now this happens from time to time if she gets an infection, so I’m not overly worried. But she’s 18. She lived fast and hard as a younger cat. She’s an old broad with a whiskey and cigarette voice. She won’t last forever. I just am being practical in preparing for the inevitable.
But outside of my children, my family and my girlfriends, Chloe is the longest relationship I’ve had with a being that shares my bed. I am going to cry buckets when she dies. She exasperates the hell out of me every morning. She was my daughter’s cat from day one, but became mine when she didn’t get along with their other cats and dogs…though she gets along fine with them now, in my house! She wakes me up every morning, and nags me to go to bed at a decent hour each night. She sleeps in my arms when it is cold out. She has, on two occasions, grabbed me by the scruff of my neck to drag me out of bed. She used to turn off the alarm clock. She is a mean drunk who will stick her head in my glass of wine or Bailey’s. She feels that anything I eat should be sampled first by Herself.
I love that old cat more than I’m willing to admit. Our other cats were easy to love…I lavished them with affection and tears. Chloe has been a pesky thorn that I have pushed away countless times. I told my family…we can have another cat if it’s a boy. Came home from work to find them all crazy in love with her, checked her butt and realized he was a she…and it was too late. She shredded window screens to get to the boy cats, who sometimes lined up on the porch and courted her through the windows. We were broke for years, and getting her fixed was a luxury. She was pregnant at least twice, but never had the kittens. When we finally got her fixed, they discovered and treated a longstanding infection that would have killed her in months. She went through all her nine lives (that awning jump was the total last straw) and then some.
Now she is my skinny little waif who knocks over water glasses and likes to sleep under the blankets. She hates getting her nails clipped and loves being brushed. And I will miss her when she goes. But knowing her stubborn nature, now that everything is prepared, she’ll live another two years just to spite me.
I think you’re being practical. I hope that she lives as long as she enjoys life, but yeah, she’s ancient, for a cat. And she has a strong will, she might very well live another few years just to spite you.
I have buried three cats on the side of our house. First, my wife’s cat who died of old age; second, my mom’s cat who died of diabetes; third, my wife’s and my kitten which I accidentally killed.
I’m sorry about your cat. My wife and I have a 13 year old Cocker Spaniel. Lately I’ve been worrying about when she’ll go. Looking up their lifespans
I guess my fears are justified.
We had Stache cremated when she died this past summer. My wife put the ashes in the garden under a cat statue marker. (some are still in the urn on the fireplace).
Have you taken the cta to the vet? Just to be sure she isn’t suffering.
When my dog Scout was 11 and change, she had a serious problem for which we took her to the vet on a Saturday morning. He treated her, then told us to watch her that day as she rested. Either she would be noticeably better by about 6 pm, or she would be significantly worse and we would have to think about putting her down.
It about drove me nuts watching her all day. Was she getting better or worse? Hard to tell; she was just lying there looking calm and comfortable, but the issue was paralysis, so who could tell? She was a big dog (shepherd/lab mix), so to burn off some nervous energy I went up to our “puppy graveyard” where several dogs are buried and started digging. I didn’t want to have to do it, um, afterward, when I was likely to be even more upset.
Come 6 pm, I went to check on her, and she looked pretty alert. I snapped a leash on her and we went for a wobbly walk, which for her was a vast improvement. She didn’t need the grave for another 3 years.
So no, I vote not cold-blooded. We do what we feel is right.
Not cold-blooded at all, and your having Chloe measure the box for you made me smile.
She just loves boxes, especially those with lids! And suitcases. Oh, how she loves to crawl inside unzipped suitcases and snuggle down for a nap!
This is how “As I lay Dying” starts, except they’re building the coffin right outside grandma’s window and they keep telling her how nice it’s going to be, etc. Funny, dark stuff. Like molasses.
I’m assuming you have pretty hard and long winters that make digging quite difficult. Same here in Denver. I have had to put the kids’ gerbil corpses in the freeze until springtime. Not sure I could do it with a cat.
Seems very practical to me and now you won’t have to dig the hole while weeping and feeling wretched. She’s probably going to find some position to rigor mortis in that makes it impossible to fit her in the box, though. You know, just to throw a wrench in your preparations.
I think you are being practical. Before my family has a cat put down we always go dig the hole first so we aren’t crying when it has to be done.
So what do you think is the crux of Jean-Paul Satre’s The Roads to Freedom ?
I’ll go now.
If Chloe is a tough old broad like you describe, she may well make it into her twenties. Among my cats, the average lifespan was 18 years. My Swipesy made it to 22.
You may have a five year old pothole in your yard.
kittenblue your story is so familiar it’s spooky. Just last week we had to put down our 17 year old ‘Queen of all she surveyed’. She had been fighting cancer for several years, was our best buddy, our fur-child. She lived on borrowed time for 17 months. She suffered from lapses of presence of mind (similar to seizures, but without the loss of consciousness) but seemed to enjoy life the rest of the time and was without pain, at least apparently. The end came hard and fast. At 6pm she was fine, by 6:45 she couldn’t stand up. By ten she was in obvious pain and by 10:30 she was gone.
For those borrowed 17 months she was spoiled even by our standards (and we spoil them all rotten). She got anything she wanted…walks, treats, time with us being petted and brushed, her own ‘security cave’. If it made her happy we were willing to move mountains. Hopefully you can do the same for Chloe, how ever much longer she is with you.
As painful as it has been to lose her, I’ve found we are not as torn up as we had expected. She lived a long, royal life; spoiled and loved beyond normal. It was just her time to move on. Hopefully you will be at peace when Chloe’s time comes.
My thoughts will be with you.
oh, and to answer your question, I think your plan is brilliant and respectful of her!
we never dig before hand (there are now 13 kitties resting in our cemetery) because Mr. HillKat finds the digging therapeutic, but here in coastal CA we don’t have the winters to make that impossible.
Kitties and boxes: nature’s perfect pairing.
Maybe, if it’s not too weird for you, leave the box out where she can enjoy it? That way, when her time does come (and may it be many years off), you have the extra little comfort of knowing that she’s somewhere she liked to be.
The Family Circus has already covered the topic of early graves
Sometimes you have to be practical. My gf has a very old horse. We didn’t think he would survive last winter, but he did. During the summer he bounced back, but nowhere close to how he usually does. He very likely won’t make this winter, but he is happy right now (very happy in fact, eating very expensive feed made just for old timers).
But a grave would be tough to dig mid-winter, so we are having an excavator come out next weekend to make the hole.
Kinky Friedman said it best.