Last night was the night and we said goodbye to my Shadowboy. I've had him my entire adult life, rescued him and one of his litter mates (we lost her a couple of years ago) in a parking lot as a kitten the summer after I graduated university. He had a really good life even though he never got over his skittish nature. I still remember the first time he decided to give me a chance and came out of hiding to sit next to me on the bed.
I spent the day at work and K did the hard part of chasing him down and getting him into the carrier and getting him to the vet where I met him.
Once we got there, we were taken into a room that was prepped with a nice gushy blanket and signed the papers indicating what we wanted done with his remains. Then the vet came in and gave him an injection to sedate him. She's a very sympathetic vet so my description sounds cold, but it wasn't. We held him as the sedation took over and once he was fully asleep, there was another injection to stop his heart.
It was all very peaceful. He didn't have any pain, and if I didn't know any better, it would have seemed like he was just sleeping heavily. There was a moment in there when the sedation was taking effect that I craved another few minutes of interacting with him but I also knew that there's no end to the desire for "another 5 minutes". I asked the vet to take him out very shortly after the end as I didn't really want to spend time with him after he was gone. Petting him and getting no response would have made it all the more real and I didn't want that.
It really just seemed like he was sleeping as the vet cradled him in the blanket and took him out of the room. I cried a little bit but wasn't as overwrought as I expected to be. K and I went next door to have dinner and we went over all the reasons we had decided this was the best of our bad options.
When you lose a pet, you often look back at the health decline that lead you to the decision to put them down. I'm finding that the more we look back on things, the more we see the health decline in hindsight than we do when it's happening. There's a point in their life where they start going from healthy to sick and that point always seems farther behind you when you're looking back on it. We've now lost the original 4 cats that we brought to our relationship and looking back at each one, we see how with most of them we should have spared them a lot of pain by making the decision sooner. With 2 of them, they passed naturally and one of them we put down after she had been suffering for some time. I think the goal is to put them down right about when they hit that 50% healthy point, that point where they've experienced as much happiness as possible and everything going forward is pain.
With Shadow, it's hard to say exactly where he was. I think he was probably about 60% healthy even though we thought he was more at 80%. Looking back at the last year, and especially in most recent months, he was having a rough time. We found vomit daily, often multiple times a day. We set up a camera to find out exactly which cat was peeing on laundry in the bathroom (we set up a sacrificial towel) and we saw him peeing on it every 60-90 minutes indicating his kidneys were farther gone than we had initially thought. K gave him some tuna yesterday and he wasn't able to keep it down.
So even though we had external factors leading us to do it now rather than later, in the long run, I think it was the right time. Maybe a month early, but not much more than that. He experienced discomfort, but I think we spared him any true pain that was in the very near future.
He was a sweetie even if he will be known in our memories as The Great Urinator.
And now we keep the cameras up and make sure that our 2 remaining indoor cats keep their urine in the boxes because if we find it elsewhere, more hard decisions are coming.