Good Night Kitty
When I had a home birth Kitty paced up and down on the back of the sofa where I was sprawled out screaming in pain, begging for it all to be over with. I swear if he’d known what to do, he’d have dragged warmed towels down from the bathroom for me. Kitty just looked like he wanted to help or at least like he really wanted to know what on earth was going on.
When the both of my kids were babies, and they cried, he’d wander up to them and put his wet nose on their nose sometimes, as if he wanted to comfort them (or he could have been trying to tell them to shurrup, I’m not sure). I have noticed that when cats do that wierd yowling thing they do sound a lot like crying babies. I reckon Kitty thought they were trying to communicate in very bad, scrambled ‘Catish’. He’d often pace around them looking worried, staring at me as if saying ‘Well! Do something!’
Often I’d trek up the hill, to be met half way by Kitty, who’d miaow and accompany me for the rest of the ascent – jumping on the garden walls, over gates and plants to keep up with me like a little Kitty athlete. He did this yesterday in fact, and as he ran down the hill towards me it broke my heart just a little – because I knew it would be the last time I’d meet him on the homeward bound trip.
You see, we knew that today was the end of the road for him. He’s been poorly for ages now, being sick, being sick at the ‘other end’ you could say too, not making it to his cat litter, not bothering to get to his cat litter, losing weight and generally going downhill. We tried everything we could think of, but when push came to shove, his symptoms became something we were unable to live with. The decision was made and this morning Horace took Kitty on a one way trip to the vets. We gave Darlek the option to come with us, but she declined so I had to stay at home with the kids and leave Horace to take him in. I hated that. I wanted to be there, but it couldn’t be helped.
This morning we gave him his last meal, and Horace sprinkled cheese on it. Sounds horrible, but Kitty has always loved cheese. Still, he happily polished off the cheese, and then we all stroked him and petted his beautiful soft ears and said our goodbyes. Well I did, Sausage was too busy watching Horrid Henry. Horace bundled him into his cat box, and I quietly cried a little as he walked out the door with my furry baby. I didn’t want Darlek to see my crying, but when I came back in, she was just as bad as me, so we hugged each other and I told her about how when I was a kid we had a dog that had died and that I had sobbed my heart out then.
I remember how much that hurt as a child, and how I didn’t understand why our beautiful labrador had just stopped moving, and why no matter how much I shouted ‘Come back!’ and hugged her, she didn’t prick her ears up and look at me anymore or move. God it hurt. I wish Darlek didn’t have to learn about death. I’d prefer her to just learn about life, about baby chicks, about things growing from seeds into big plants, about frogspawn turning into tadpoles and then frogs. It seems so cruel that everything must come to an end. Kids are taught so much about how life begins – but so little is said about death and decay and it’s a very tough issue to deal with. Today I struggled, with my own emotions and with explaining what was happening too.
When Horace returned home with a Kitty that didn’t move anymore wrapped in a sheet, she said that he had been ‘put to sleep,’ and really did seem to think he was just in a very deep slumber. Horace explained that Kitty’s heart had stopped and that it wouldn’t start again, he wasn’t going to wake up. She stood in the garden with us digging a hole at the foot of the fruit trees, wiping tears away with streaks of soil on her cheeks. Darlek was determined to help nonetheless and shovelled soil along with her dad. Sausage stood by the grave very solemnly for about a minute and questioned us about what we were doing.
He said things along the lines of ‘Kitty can’t move if you put soil on him’ and when we suggested putting stones over the grave, he said we’d hurt him. When we explained that Kitty’s body wasn’t working anymore and that he couldn’t be hurt, he stood and cried too saying he wanted Kitty back which broke my heart just that little bit more. Then in true 3 year old fashion, he ran down the garden shouting about finding sticks and making a den to keep the zombies out.
I lifted Kitty’s body out of the cat box onto the damp dark earth next to the hole and all of us gave him one final stroke. He was still warm to the touch, and his fur felt so soft. The poor love had had a nose bleed, and stank to high heaven because he’d lost control of his bowels. Poor mite. Gently I shuffled my hands around his body and lifted him into the hole. Horace tucked his tail neatly around his tummy, and we began to shovel the soil over him. I remember sobbing and saying that I couldn’t bear putting soil over his face. I’m such a soft touch, I just couldn’t bear it.
After we finished filling in the hole, we all found stones from the garden and piled them on his final resting place. We’ll make a little cairn for him I think. Just as we were finishing the grave, one of our next door neibours started practising his bagpipes. It felt strangely like a final solemn musical salute in a really silly melodramatic way I suppose. I couldn’t help but think maybe I should salute, although I resisted the urge. It wasn’t really an appropriate time to be acting the fool, and anyway, I was too busy trying not to bawl my eyes out like I did when our old dog died twenty odd years ago. Age and experience hasn’t dulled the pain of losing a pet, it still hurt just as keenly as it did then.
Carrying an empty cat box and heavy hearts we set off home. The green hills in the distance lit up with sunshine, and the rest of the hillside and the town lay in shadow. The cold air had made all of our fingers numb so we gratefully went inside to warm ourselves, leaving Kitty nestled amongst the roots of the fruit trees, stone cold but peacefully and permanently asleep.
I know he was only a cat, but we loved him so much. Good night Kitty. xxx