January 2001. Jim and I owned one cat. We had no children. We had been going through fertility treatments for about six months with no positive results. I needed something more to love, so we went to our local SPCA and picked out another kitty. She was smaller, grey and tan on top and white on her paws and belly. She looked like someone had dipped her in white paint. She had an eye infection and kept winking with one eye, so the name Winky stuck. (sidebar: I hate coming up with names for animals!) Not even two months later I conceived quadruplets and kind of regretted our decision to adopt her, but we stuck it out.
Winky was the rare cat who liked people–strangers were always friends to her. She was willing to jump up and lay down next to anyone, provided they pet her. She didn’t like being ON you, but NEAR you. We joked that her “love language” was quality time. She was loved by everyone in the family as well as any feline-friendly people because she was so friendly.
Last Thanksgiving we hosted both sides of the family. Everyone noticed that Winky had lost weight. Being that she was quite overweight, I had first been rather happy about this. But everyone was shocked by just how much she had lost. It took new eyes to see what we, living with her everyday, were unable to. We went to the vet, where they did a battery of tests. Winky was not doing well. She was in renal failure, with her kidneys operating with less than 25% capacity. We changed her food to a special kidney disease food and began the wait. Her fur, which had previously been very soft and sleek, became clumpy and dull. She didn’t like to be pet very much. She would eat and drink like crazy, but never gain an ounce, and would pee all over the house. Last weekend she peed six times and pooped once in the playroom. That was the writing on the wall for me. She wasn’t going to get better–it was only going to be a slow decline into a place I didn’t want her (or us) to go. We made the difficult decision to take her to the vet on Friday.
I have only ever once been present when an animal was euthanized, back in 2000 when Jim’s mom’s dog had an attack of some sort and we rushed to the vet ER. I had no particular affection for the dog, but sobbed when she died. This was many times worse.It was, essentially, my cat (Jim being a dog person). It was my decision. I drove her. I took her to the vet by myself so Jim could be home with the kids.
I won’t go into the actual procedure, but suffice it to say that it was really, REALLY hard and I can’t imagine doing it again if and when we need to with Floyd, our other cat. I sobbed the whole evening and went to bed early, just emotionally worn out. It was weird cleaning out the laundry room on Saturday, where her bed and litter box were kept (Floyd goes outside for his bathroom).
The kids seem to be handling it, although Ethan (who DOES NOT like animals) cried last night and said he missed her. We buried her yesterday in the backyard. I was ok for most of it, but cried when Jim started putting the dirt on her.
We have tried to soften her loss by telling the kids that yes, we will now being to look for a dog. I’ve been pouring over local rescues through Petfinder.com and have emailed two of them about sweet-looking dogs.
I don’t know that I can say I learned something from all of this, other than losing a pet is difficult and that I wish their lifespans were longer. I am grateful that we have Floyd that I can love on…I don’t know if he notices Winky’s absence; they weren’t particularly close. But we notice it.
Rest in Peace, Winky. You were loved and we will miss you.