In 2003, it happened. Although my cat Helen overcame her spring disorder that year, in July, she became listless. She began to drink lots of water but to eat almost nothing but the occasional treat. She moved from the bed to the bedroom floor, rising awkwardly only to make her way to the litter box. Finally, in August, it became clear to me that she was dying. I left it to my brave husband to take her to a vet, who confirmed our worst suspicions.
“Cancer,” he said. Riddling her pelvis and abdomen. “I could operate,” he added, doubtfully. But he quickly confirmed that there was really only one thing to do. That afternoon, we let my girlfriend of 17 years slip away from us forever.
I consider myself a sensible woman. Normally, I wouldn’t let a thing like a cat’s death bother me too much. But this one, even though I had expected it, hit me hard. That afternoon, I had to leave the reference desk to wash the tears off my face. In the evening, I just sat on the living room couch and cried.
I felt relieved to find extensive resources on the Web about grieving for pets. I suppose it makes sense. Few dogs or cats live more than 20 years. That means that serial pet owners will endure several losses as the decades pass. This site addresses the grief over a pet’s death.
How Do I Know It Is Time? Pet Euthanasia
The American Veterinary Medical Association knows the way to comfort owners about euthanasia, counseling, “Try to recall and treasure the good times you spent with your pet.” The vets give good advice about how to know when to put a suffering pet out of its misery.