Monday, December 12, 2011

Another Goodbye

We had to put the cat to sleep today. Sabrina's condition deteriorated over the weekend to the point that we felt she was becoming very uncomfortable. In fact, I was almost afraid to check on her this morning for fear that she had died in the night. She had lost so much weight in the last two weeks, and she stopped eating this weekend. Her breathing was very labored. We called the vet this morning, and when he came to the house at lunchtime, he confirmed what we had expected. It was time to let her go so she wouldn't suffer any more. Her big yellow eyes looked at us pleadingly, as if to say, "Make it stop". So we did. And boy, was it difficult. It was one big sob fest as the vet started the anesthesia. Our pets are our family. Some folks aren't that way, but we are, and we don't apologize for that. They bring us great joy, love us unconditionally and make our lives better. We try to show them great love and kindness in return. We gave Sabrina two good years, and hopefully, that helped to make up for the first eight that weren't so good.

Sabrina was Sissy's cat. That's part of why this is all so painful. Sissy adopted Sabrina after Sissy's son drowned. It was a way for her to liven up her empty home and give her some much needed company. It didn't work that well, though. Sissy embraced her depression, and spent eight years spending money and using all sorts of vices to fill up the empty hole that was once her heart. It didn't work, and when Sissy killed herself, she left Sabrina, who had basically been a stranger in her own house. Sabrina never really got much attention from Sissy, and she was left for long periods of time in the house with food and water but without company. She was bounced around a couple of kennels for long periods of time each time Sissy moved. It wasn't a great life for her.

We weren't looking for another pet when Sissy died, and we initially looked for a new home for Sabrina. But she was an older cat and pretty unsociable, so no one wanted her. We knew if we took her to a shelter she'd end up euthanized, so we reluctantly gave in when Teen Angel begged to keep her. Sabrina didn't even like us at first. I think she didn't know how to receive love and attention. She had never had any toys, so she didn't know how to play with them. We would shake a toy mouse at her, and she'd look at us like we were crazy. Initially, we left her at Sissy's house where we'd visit her every day and then we brought her to our house where she stayed in Teen Angel's room for a few weeks. She was scared to leave Teen Angel's room, especially with the dog around. Eventually, she got the nerve to venture into the rest of the house, and we kept trying to show her some love. Then, one day, it was if she'd made up her mind that we were okay and that she'd be okay, and she climbed up on the sofa and made herself at home. She never looked back. For the last couple of years, she's been Teen Angel's buddy. She's been sassy and irreverent. She has smacked the dog's jaws on numerous occasions and she has given us a lot of laughter as we watched her priss around as if she owned the place. She would daintily dip her paws into the water bowl and dab her wet paw to her mouth instead of drinking out of the bowl. She would sit just so from her perch on the back of the couch, and she groomed herself religiously. Teen Angel and I, on a daily basis, would make up conversation based on what we thought she would say if she could speak. "Ooh Nana, can't we get rid of that dumb dog?" and "Is that cream I see in the refrigerator? I do loves me some dairy." We have gotten a lot of joy out of her, and while she was never an extremely loving cat, she had obviously begun to love us and would cuddle against us at night or crawl into Hubby's lap for a good nap. She was an interesting cat, and we were very attached to her.

I don't know if this would have been any easier if she had not been Sissy's cat. There is obviously an emotional attachment there that made this situation unique. Taking care of Sabrina was a way to cope with Sissy's suicide, and letting go of Sabrina is almost like letting go of a little piece of Sissy. We've had so much loss in the last few years that it's hard to take any loss at this point, especially so soon after Mama J's death. It starts to feel as if you don't have much control over your life and that about the time you think you've gained control again, it slips from your grasp in a slippery kind of way. Kind of like when you pick up a chunk of hard sugar with your fingers. It's hard when you first touch it, but the minute you grasp it, it drops into a thousand tiny kernels that fall through your fingers, and there's no way to catch them before they spill. We spilled many tears today when we laid Sabrina on her soft pillow in that sunny window she likes so much and stroked her while the vet injected her with the drugs. She drifted off to sleep, leaving us with an empty spot in our hearts but hope that she learned what love was all about before her life ended. The ground on our property is very hard right now, despite all the recent rain, so we are having her cremated and will figure out what to do with her ashes later. Ironically, the funeral home that provides that service is the same one that handled the funeral arrangements for Sissy's son. It's funny how life turns. And it's funny how you just don't see some of the curves ahead until you're right in them. How we negotiate those curves is what's important, and while we'll muddle through as always, I'm ready for a good straight stretch of road.


the parishioner who doesn't do anything said...

Maybe the cruise will be a wonderful relaxing time for you. It's been a rough end of the year. Sometimes it's nice to just start a new one. We'll be home next week and are looking forward to that. (Two years in a row with Mom at Christmas must be some kind of record.)

Trailboss said...

My heart goes out to all of you. I know how hard it is to be a responsible pet owner. I love my pets just like they are my kids. It sounds like she had a rough life but a wonderful retirement. You should all be proud of making that happen for her. She is no longer in pain and is running around smacking the faces of many a dog now after going over the Rainbow Bridge. Take care and cherish the memories. I know you will.

Kelley with Amy's Angels said...

In our family, pets are our "fur kids" so I totally get it! While my father in law has the rule of "four legged creatures live outside", I put a hault to the immediately when I met the Big Guy. It's been a learning curve for him (he won't even give the dog a kiss on the head!), but thankfully he's getting there.

But I love how your family got the cat to trust and love you so that she could have her final years as sweet as possible.

Hugs to the Hula's!

oreneta said...


J.G. said...

Bless you all for making the leap of faith with Sabrina when she needed you most, both taking her in and letting her go. I have no doubt that these last two years were the best ones of her whole life.

Prayers and good thoughts to all of you.