Friday, July 07, 2017

Mickey Kitty

Today was Mickey's last day with us... and no matter how many times you have to 'put down' a pet, it just never gets easier.  My husband found Mickey in July of 2005 while he was walking our dog Gracie in the neighborhood park. They heard yowling meows coming from near the bayou and Gary and Gracie went to investigate... and what they found was the tiniest and skinniest black kitten. Of course they brought it home... and of course we had to keep him.  I have a soft spot for black cats anyway, and Mickey was so tiny and helpless, how could we not have made him part of the family...

Mickey is (was) our last pet from our old house, our old neighborhood. "The last Heatherdale cat," as my husband called him. And being that my husband's dog Gracie was there for the discovery of Mickey, that alone made that little cat more special than the others we've had along the past 22 years. I think Mickey was the runt of his litter... he was so scrawny when we found him, and he stayed smaller than usual for a male cat for all of his 12 years.  I also think Mickey would have lived longer had we been able to keep him as an inside cat, but his litter-box habits got too unmanageable about four years ago and we let him go outside.  During the day, he had free roam of the property, but at night we kept him in the garage to keep him safe from coyotes and bobcats and everything else that goes bump in the night around here.

For the past month or so, Mickey seemed to be forgetful and out-of-it at times.... he did have some good days when he would remember where his food dishes were, but these past couple of weeks he was even forgetting how to get from the garage into the screened-in coop to get some fresh air when we closed the garage door at night.  I was bringing him into the house on the hottest of days, and keeping him in one of the bathrooms. The bottom line was that Mickey was no longer able to just be a cat. And I do not believe in keeping pets alive for my own sake, while taking away their own sense of dignity.

This morning we went to the vet's office. One last trip in the car, which Mickey was never too fond of anyway. My little black cat meowed all the way there, but as soon as I brought the cat-carrier into that office, not a peep came out of him. Sometimes I wonder if pets know when the inevitable is about to happen.  I stayed in the room with Mickey but I couldn't watch the procedure. I faced the wall and tried to think of that long-ago summer morning when my husband and Gracie walked into the back door and both of them were smiling wide.... and there was that tiny little black kitten, and my husband was telling me "Gracie and I found him... we have to keep him."  We had three other cats at the time... what difference would one more make...

We never really own our pets... they own us, heart and soul. They come into our lives by choice or by chance, and they expect to be loved and cared for and respected. As they should be. As we all should be. And the biggest responsibility of having a pet is knowing when it's time to let them go, peacefully and with grace.

When I came back home this morning, I gave Savannah the biggest hug, which she just loves.... she is never the first to pull away. Then I picked up Sweet Pea and held him on my left side with his head on my shoulder... I swear that he must like to hear my heart beating because he doesn't like being held on the right side of me.  Sweet Pea just calmly stayed there, his head on my shoulder and his whiskers tickling my neck. I told him that he was the only cat now.  "You are my one-and-only Sweet Pea," I told him.

Be kind to your pets.... hug your children... and be kind, always kind, to your pets. They should always know that you love them.


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