the needle shot

The needle shot. That’s BoyGenius’ term for the euthanasia of our cats. He has been through 3 needle shots in the last 4 or 5 years and now we are facing our latest. Schmu (short for Schmusekatze … or snuggle cat) is just shy of 19 yrs and is rapidly slowly approaching the end of her beautiful life. She’s been a great cat, still is, really.

Schmu and her magnificent tail.

Schmu has been with me since she was about 4 weeks old, having been left on a co-worker’s front porch with no note, no blanket, no family history .. just a small cardboard box. One of “my” cats (that’s a whole ‘nother story) had recently had a litter and we were just at the end of getting her 6 kittens adopted to good homes, so I said ‘sure, I’ll take her,’ when another co-worker who was going to take this little orange fluff-ball in was unable as he was about to jet off on vacation. She arrived, Minou sniffed her a tiny bit, figured she was good enough and promptly allowed Schmu to nurse. Schmu got a mom and Minou got a little extra time to feel needed.

This little orange baby soon became everyone’s darling. She has been a “neighbourhood” cat everywhere we have lived, with many people offering to keep her whenever we moved. She has twice, in two cities, been christened Buttercup by little girls who fell in love with her. She knew my very first cat ever, Schnucki, and my brother BlueEyes. Schmu crawled up my mother’s arm and curled around her neck for a nap while my family was celebrating my 29th birthday, the last one I would have with BlueEyes. My mom has never really been a cat person, but gets along just fine with Schmu.

When Hardworker and I moved to our present town, into our current house, Schmu ingratiated herself to the neighbours (almost all of them). She would head into one neighbour’s garage and wind herself around his legs while he worked on his table saw, finishing one project or another. He was amazed that she wasn’t frightened off. She would terrorize this same neighbour’s cat every morning at 5:30 by sitting outside and taunting staring at this big mean indoor cat (we wondered for years just what meeting she was late to every morning!); she did head into their house a couple of times, just to see how far she could take it. One Monday afternoon while I was on the phone with my mom, there was a knock at the door. An elderly couple stood on my front step; the little old lady had Schmu in her arms. “Is this your cat? .. The neighbours at the end of the street said she lived here.” We had been away for the weekend and Schmu had refused to come in before we left. Upon our return on Sunday evening, we were a little bit surprised, but not overly concerned when she didn’t come running home right away. Apparently, she had been with this couple, around the corner from us, all weekend. She visited them often, they said, and had her own little spot in their living room. They were very happy as they had fairly recently lost both of their elderly cats. Schmu kept checking in with them for the next year or so, until the wife had died and the husband sold their house. When I was working and commuting by public transit Schmu would walk me to the bus stop on the corner of our street every morning. Remarkably (or not so much for her) she would be waiting at the same corner every evening when I got off my bus from the train station. I thought it was so sweet how she knew when I would be home and that she would come meet my bus. “She must really love me and miss me terribly,” I thought. One day I drove to the train station instead of taking the bus. As I pulled up to the house somewhat earlier than my usual arrival time, Schmu came walking down the driveway, meowing her apparent irritation at my untimely appearance. By the time I had gotten out of the car, she was gone. I looked around, and saw a woman petting her and chatting with her at the end of the driveway. “Is this your cat?” she asked. I said yes, and told the woman her name. “She’s so sweet,” she said. “She meets my bus every afternoon and walks me home.” So much for my ego.

a boy and his cat

When BoyGenius was a couple of months old, I walked into the master bedroom one day and noticed an odd smell. Not a good one. A little investigation led me to the cats sleeping on the bed and a little further checking revealed a large open sore at the base of Schmu’s tail, on the underside. She hadn’t said a word. I took her to the vet and in my post-pregnancy hormonal haze listened while the vet explained that the best option was to amputate her tail, load her up with antibiotics and hope for the best. Or we could always leave the tail, do the rest and hope for the best. Problem being that where the injury was, there isn’t any flesh to fill in, just skin and it was long gone. I cried, I called HardWorker and cried some more. “She loves her tail, she plays with it all the time!” We have open-riser stairs and Schmu would lay on a step, curl her tail around from the back and act surprised when the tip of it showed up in front of her, then proceed to chase it around and around. Without ever falling. (Our boy cat Riley could never master this .. he came up from the basement in embarrassment a few times, having fallen through the upper stairs.) The tail came off, she was fine. She got a new “bad” rep in the neighbourhood — ‘don’t mess with her, she gave up her tail to survive!’

For a few months now she has been yelling at us instead of meowing. Deaf as a post. She can’t even seem to feel the vibrations of our footsteps anymore. She still gets up (and gets us up) in the wee hours of the morning, wanting “breakfast” and to get outside. Breakfast is in quotes because she won’t eat more than the tip of a forkful of wet food at a time .. if you put more in her bowl it just goes to waste even when she returns to it in a matter of seconds. She won’t touch it again. She loves her treats but it’s the same story: if you put too many out they will sit and sit … until you pretend to be putting new ones out while you’re just re-piling the leftovers. She can only pick the treats up off the carpet, not from a dish or the tile floor. She cannot sit comfortably, walks very stiffly and loses her balance quickly if she shakes her head. She will no longer allow us to brush her (something she used to love) and is unable to groom herself properly so her lovely soft fur is matted in clumps, which she will pull off and eat. She wants to go out, steps outside and turns right around, crying at the door to come in.  Once in she looks around, wonders how she got there and turns to go back out, then starts the entire process again. She has started to miss the litter box every now and then, or just ignore it completely sometimes.

It has taken me months to make the call. I have an appointment tomorrow at 5pm. My heart is heavy and my head hurts.

all images in this post are copyrighted 2012 – just another s-a-h-mother

today’s post is brought to you by the letter C
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Categories: family, friendship | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “the needle shot

  1. My heart is heavy too. Schmu is lucky to have you and you are lucky to have her. Good thoughts for you tomorrow. Breathe.

  2. Sobbing. Ugly sobbing at this beautiful tribute. Oh my friend. Of course your heart is heavy. I am wrapping you up in love right now. Do you feel it?

  3. Awww, that’s so touching & sad – my old chum had the needle shot when I was at University so I couldn’t say goodbye – she was 18…

    • Sorry you weren’t able to say goodbye .. not that’s it easy to do it. We have had to say goodbye to 4 in the last two and a half years — none of them easy but no way around it when you think of their ages, 12, 14, 18 and 19.

  4. I am so sorry. I am sending you so much love right now, and wishing I could accompany it with the kind of hug that makes hearts feel they’re not so very far apart at all.

  5. I am so sorry. I have always lived with cats and always loved their company. My oldest and best loved, the mother of several generations was with me for 26 years, I still miss her. Sending you peace and hugs.

    • Oh Valentine – 26 years is amazing. How lucky you were!

      I have had a parade of cats in and out of the various houses I have lived in .. to start with one was mine and the others just joined in. I somehow managed to find a number of people in my life who got the cat but never kept up with the responsibility, sometimes moving on and leaving the animals behind. Some people are very hard to understand.

      Thank you for your kind words.

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