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We Let Go

July 3rd, 2007

Cupid took a turn for the worse this morning. We weren’t all that surprised to receive a call from the vet at 5:00 am. Despite what appeared to be some sign of improvement over the past few days, when we visited her last night we could see that she wasn’t looking well. And instead of drinking, she’d gone back to tapping the water with her nose. We tried to remain optimistic, but at best we hoped to get her home for whatever time she might have left.

After learning that Cupid’s blood pressure had dropped, we drove over to the clinic about a quarter to seven, assuming that we’d have to let her go. However, the vet first wanted to try bringing her body temperature back up. We left for a few hours, but by the time I visited again at 10:45 am, it was clear that we’d explored every reasonable option. She couldn’t tolerate the increased heat, and furthermore we learned that she had underlying kidney problems that would have to be treated in such a manner as to exacerbate her heart disease. It was time.

I have to commend the staff at the University’s Vet Med clinic. They spent a lot of time with us explaining the procedure and talking us through our grief. Vic managed to make the doctor himself cry when she told him what a good vet he’ll make.

We sat alone with Cupid for a while. Vic held her on her lap while we both kissed her and said goodbye. There were moments when Cupid almost seemed normal; it was as if she were just a little sleepy. I felt as if I could sit there all day; all week if necessary. But she continued to growl at our touch, and we knew that she would never be our little kitty again. Then I took her, and at last we allowed the doctor to give her the injections. She died in my lap.

It was every bit as heartbreaking as I had feared. It’s been suggested that part of what I’m feeling is due to this being the first time I’ve lost a pet, but to be honest, I hope that this never gets any easier.

While our friends, family and coworkers have been supportive, I’m sure that there are some out there who would say, “it’s just a cat.” Let’s get this straight: Cupid lived with us for fourteen years, in three different homes. If I’d had her for four more years, it would have been a period equivalent to nurturing a child through high school graduation.

While I know that it’s all too common to project human feelings onto animals, it’s impossible for me to believe that there isn’t something there. Our cats have distinctive personalities, and at least a few recognizable emotions. Whether or not they feel love, they do take comfort from being around us.

It’s a cliche to refer to one’s pets as kids, especially for people, like us, without children. The way I’ve always thought of our kitties is as babies who never grow up, unable to fully comprehend the world in which they live, yet requiring food, care and affection. And be warned, the first person who says, “but Dave, they’re not like real kids” will feel my tiny fist striking straight up their nostril on the way to their brain. Goddammit, they are indeed my kids, and I lost one of them today.

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