Sunday, 20 June 2010

A Matter of Life & Death

Last week my lovely old cat Poppy was put to sleep. She was wasting away because of chronic kidney failure and had lost half her body weight within a few months.

I adopted Poppy, and her son Monty, over 13 years ago, during a previous relationship. We had just bought a house together and thought a pet would make it a home. I had not been brought up with pets and for months I wasn't even confident enough to pick them up. In less than a year, the relationship had broken down and I was left with a house and 2 cats to look after.

Over the next 12 years there were good times, bad times, and downright crazy times. Good times like watching her sunning herself in the garden, prowling through the lawn or curled up by the fire. Bad times like when she was hit by a car and crushed her pelvis - and we had to take her to a specialist veterinary college where they put in pins & plates and pieced her back together. And in the latter years there was the inconvenience of her having lots of accidents in the house, ruining carpets & flooring in the process. Downright crazy times like when she attacked Monty in a case of redirected agression, and we had to keep them separated in the house for 16 months, with wallpaper covering our glass interior doors, and during which time she was on antidepressants and went to see a Pet Psychologist.

The day before Poppy died I had a massive row with my sister. Names were called, mud was slung and I ended the day thinking there was no going back and no future for our relationship. Within the next 24 hours I was faced with a life or death decision, and found myself holding my frail cat tightly while she was put to sleep. I then had to break the news to the girls and console my heartbroken 4 year old, whilst trying to answer the torrent of questions she fired at me about death, without worrying or confusing her.

And I just thought 'You know what, there is enough shit and pain to deal with in this world that is out of my control, without me adding to it'. So the next day I rang my sister, apologised, and we talked properly for the first time in years, in a quiet, accepting way, instead of an accusatory or defensive way.

Since having children the cats had drifted somewhat into the background of my consciousness but I'm going to spoil Monty rotten now, because I know I'm really going to miss him when he's gone.

Call it coincidence, or fate, but the sadness I'm feeling at the loss of Poppy is tempered by the feeling that her leaving has taught me some lessons I really needed to learn. Like we don't have all the time we think we have. And that matters of life and death really do put the rest of life's trivia into sharp perspective.

For such a small animal she certainly had a big impact on my life and the house doesn't half feel empty without her.


The Moiderer said...

It's so horrible when a member of your family and part of your life suddenly wastes away like that. The same thing happened to our cat Ratty in 2006. He was a big fluffy beast and he wasted away in a matter of weeks. We sobbed for days over having him put down and it felt so wrong without him in the house. I really feel for you

Anonymous said...

I'm going to give my 2 cats an extra big cuddle tonight as you've made me realise since baby come along they have kind of faded into the background a bit.

Sorry for your loss xxxx

Luschka (Diary of a First Child) said...

I'm so sorry for the loss of your cat. It's amazing the impact a small animal can have on us.

Truesilver Coaching and Marketing said...

I'm having a bit of a blub with you. Pets become such a big part of your life without you realising and having to take the decision to let them go is the hardest but kindest thing you can do.

It's awful now, but in a few months you will have 'Poppy' moments, when something will remind you of her but it will bring a smile instead of bringing a tear to your eye.

Big hugs.


Time Management Mum said...

Rest in Peace Poppy.
I still well up when I think of my cat Sassy. She was my baby before I had babies - she was with us for 13 years and I held her in my arms as she was put to sleep.
It does get easier but you will always remember and love her. We always talk about Sassy in heaven - my daughter (7) knows she's there with her Great Grandad!

vegemitevix said...

I am so very sorry. In 2005 I had to put down my 12 yr old Lab (Moet) and my 14 yr old Tonkinese cat (Bollinger). Along with leaving my husband and having major surgery, they were two of the worst moments of my life. I still grieve for both of them. I would wake sobbing for them. My advice hun is to be kind to yourself, you are grieving for a member of your family, a part of your life who has passed. All my love and sympathy Vx

Sandy Calico said...

I'm so sorry about Poppy. It's coming up to a year since we lost our dear old cat. It is so difficult to say goodbye to a pet, especially one that has been somewhat sidelined once your real babies arrived.
I'm glad you've made things up with your sister. x

Organic Baby Clothes Direct said...

A beautifully written piece, very moving and genuinely heart wrenching,and a valuable lesson told and experienced as well! We also have a cat called Poppy. love her to bits, not to mention Tina ( the stray) and Fluffy the big angelic Tom x

The Dotterel said...

Sad news, but isn't it often the way that a crisis can lead to some important realisations? I'm glad you made up with your sister - that'll be fitting memorial to a remarkable member the family, Poppy.

Imogen said...

I never thought I'd ever be a 'cat person' but when I got Kane from a rescue home he was wonderful and really did make my house a home. I sadly lost him 5 years and haven't had another cat because children came along but they really lovely. I'm sorry for your loss and hope your relationship with your sister continues to improve. x

TheMadHouse said...

I am dreading losing Mr Smudge, he is 14 this year. We lost his brother 3 weejs before MIni was born and it floored me. I am so glad that it helped put things in perspective with your sister too

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