A week ago I struggled with thoughts that I might have to put my oldest cat to sleep. On Tuesday I called the vet and said good-bye to Delphi.
It was a bad week.
As much as it hurt to let her go, it was the right thing to do.
The vet said something that stuck with me. As we decide what to do with these treasured floofs, we need to look at their lives, we need to remember what they loved. We need to look at how many of those things they have lost. And maybe leave them one of those happy things and let them go out on a good day. Don’t let them end with suffering.
As I look back on my cat’s life, I did that.
I found Delphi while at work at a nursery/landscape place while staking Delphiniums (hence her name). I brought her home when she was two months old in June of 1998. Yes, kids, she was with me for 19 and a half years. She was a few months shy of turning 20 years old. Not many cats make it that long. She had a good long life.
When I first got her, she really wanted to go outside, but living in a city, I fought hard to keep her in. I chased her many days.
She was feisty, a bit mean to any other pet I brought in the house. She loved my lap and to sleep by me at night.
Then her life was interrupted by kids.
She was never fond of the little devils. She would scratch and bite to keep those pesky kids away from her. My daughter learned a hard lesson to leave that cat alone. However, with me occupied with small children, Delphi learned that she could get outside and stay there. I had no time to chase her down. By this time we had moved to the county, a bit less traffic and a wooded area across the street and a field behind us for her to roam and hunt. Delphi became quite a hunter. So many dead animals were found on our sidewalk and yard.
Delphi loved to be outside, sleeping in the sun or stalking her prey. She lost that joy long ago, I can’t remember the last time she had been outside.
No more hunting, no more roaming the great outdoors, she stayed in and as the years passed she kept to the kitchen and living room. No more sleeping upstairs with me.
She had no interest in toys anymore. She would still take a swipe at the dog or other cat, but mostly she had little energy for that feistiness.
I’m not sure how well she could see. Her balance was gone. Her joints creaked and cracked. And she started peeing on the couch.
Over the last few years, you could find her curled up on the kitchen chair, on the arm of the couch, or on a lap. If you had a plate, she was more than willing to lick it clean. Mostly she fought for her space between me and my laptop.
She had laps at the end. And if you had a moment to rub her cheeks, she was happy.
As I said good-bye in that sterile vet office, I rubbed her cheeks and told her I would never forget her. She never had to know many trips to the doctor, needles, medication, or pain. She would remember love.
I will remember that tiny kitten I found at work that day, how I decided that if she was there when I got back from vacation I would take her home. I will remember how she would sit on my pregnant belly and look annoyed when the baby moved. I will remember her racing to get outside to begin an adventure. I will remember her asleep in my son’s crib. I will remember her furry self curled up on my lap…in the way of me trying to type. I will remember her purr as I pet her.
I will never forget my Delphi, my companion for 19 and a half years. Always there. Always glad to see me.
Good-bye, Delphi. I will see you again. And wherever you are, I hope there’s a warm lap. I will hold tight to my memories of you.