I have to take Zoe in today to get her teeth cleaned. I hate having to do this. She’s an older cat and she’s had seizures in the past and I worry every time she’s under general anesthesia. However, as the vet said, this is something that can’t be put off. But I hate doing it.
What’s worse is she knows it’s coming. When she doesn’t get fed in the morning and her water is taken away the night before, she knows she has to go into the vet. She gets very quiet and very hurt looking, and then she crawls up into my lap and presses as tight as she can to me, and talks softly in her little chatter. Every once in a while, she trembles a bit and presses closer.
Before we adopted Zoe we had a cat, Boots, who was one of three boys born to another cat we were taking care of for a friend. Boots was an amazing cat, huge, close to 20 pounds. He kept getting into one scrape after another, including getting hit by a car and losing sight in one eye.
Boots ended up having stomach problems, and had to have surgery a couple of times, but he’d always pull through. Then one spring we noticed that he was losing weight and getting quieter, and not eating as well. We took him into the vet and they diagnosed stomach cancer and recommended surgery. They also suggested that we take him home for a few days and just spend time with him before the operation.
He looked like a young kitten again from the weight loss. His eyes were huge in his face, and he was so vulnerable.
The day of the surgery the vet said for us to go to work, he’d call and let us know when the operation was over. (Neither Rob’s company nor mine was amenable to time off ‘just for a cat’.) Later that morning, Rob called me and he was crying so hard I couldn’t understand him. It was a shock, because I never heard Rob cry before.
He said that the doctor called and the cancer was very advanced. They could try to continue the surgery, but the chance of him surviving was only about 20 percent and if they weren’t successful, Boots would continue in a great deal of pain. We had to make a decision: continue or allow them to just let Boots drift off to a permanent sleep.
Rob couldn’t make the decision; he was especially close to Boots. I called the doctor and we talked, and he said I had to decide quickly–Boots was still under anesthesia. So I chose not to let him suffer. But all I could think of the rest of the day is that Boots didn’t understand why he was going into the vet, and he didn’t understand why we weren’t there with him, and this was his last memory.
I am writing about Zoe and having her teeth cleaned. My priorities are wrong. She’s just a cat and this isn’t about Iraq, where people are dying and the world has gone to hell. Where’s my civic duty, and don’t I have more important things to write about?
But she’s part of my micro world where my actions have direct cause and effect. I can’t control what I can’t touch, but I can touch her.
The people at the clinic are just wonderful. I’ve always wished that I could have a vet for my doctor.