Last year, I adopted an aging cat who was living in a difficult situation: She was one of too many former shelter and stray cats living in the same household, and the owner needed to rehome a considerable number of them. I chose the cat I felt would be hardest for the broken-hearted owner to place: An elderly, tiny black female with more than a hint of reservation and distrust in her eyes.
Halle gradually settled into my home and the grudging acceptance of my resident cats — but not before a great deal of bullying (bullying by her and her five-pound frame). It turns out that she had been rescued as a starving, young cat on the streets of Brooklyn one Halloween night many moons ago. So I accepted her aggressive ways as a tribute to her street-smart savvy and the fact that she’d had to compete in a home overloaded with cats for many, many years. I knew that her life had certainly not been easy.
Over the past two months or so, I noticed a lot of changes in Halle. She started to sleep considerably more, vocalize almost constantly while awake, and she just looked arthritic and uncomfortable. Even worse, my younger cats started to bully her — and I saw with each passing day the quality of her life diminish considerably.
When a physical exam revealed that her kidney function was greatly decreased, I made the decision to euthanize her. My trusted veterinarian felt she was in her late teens (her mysterious beginning made her exact age an unknown entity), and in my heart I felt it was time to say goodbye.
A few days after her passing, I received a hand-written note from my veterinarian expressing his condolences and informing me that the clinic had made a donation in her name to a local animal shelter.
Obviously, nothing can replace the loss of a beloved pet. But knowing that the health care of my cats is in the hands of a veterinarian who recognizes the importance of the human-animal bond makes the loss a little bit easier.
Elizabeth Vecsi, Executive Editor