Today we took Harry to the vet to have him put to sleep. Last night it was evident that he was having a hard time walking, not eating a thing, and not grooming himself. He seemed almost unable to climb onto the bed. He had lost a lot of weight and still had an eye infection.
This morning we found him lying behind the toilet, which certainly confirmed for us that he was ready.
We had prepared the kids last night, telling them that we didn’t want Harry to suffer any more, and that he was not going to get better. We told them that the vet would give him an injection that would make him fall right to sleep, and then he would die peacefully. We pointed out that he had had a very good life, and that 14 was quite old for a cat.
SillyBilly was quite upset and cried stormily for a while. Both kids went into our bedroom to pet Harry and wish him well, and then they both drew pictures of themselves playing with him. We talked about what kitty heaven might be like: lots of soft beds, bowls of kibble (make that liverwurst and small flightless birds!), fun toys, and angels to pet them and scratch behind their ears. This part of the conversation helped Napoleona feel much better. Both kids agreed that they wanted a framed photo of Harry in their room to remember him by.
Anthropapa and I agreed that it felt important to be relatively up front with the kids about this event, and to give them time to process it and have a chance to say goodbye to Harry. We didn’t go into detail — SillyBilly asked me what would happen to Harry’s body, and I told him a little white lie that I wasn’t sure. I thought talking about cremation would be a bit over the top. We also talked about how what we most would have liked would have been for Harry to die at home, and for us to be able to bury him on our property. When we finally own a home, I’m sure that’s how we’ll handle these things in the future.
Harry came to us as a 5- or 6-week-old kitten in 1994, about 6 months before Anthropapa and I got married. He was half-starved and had been found in the middle of the street inside a plastic bag. My coworker could not keep him due to allergies, so we took him home to meet our other two cats.
Harry was always a big cuddler. He overcame his initial starved state and never looked back, becoming rather portly. His tail never seemed to stop moving, and he had a big purr. Harry wanted you to think he was a panther-like black, but really he was deep, chocolate brown, with the barest hint of kittenish stripes on his chest. He was the softest cat ever.
We will miss him very much.