You know when things happen that you know were bound to happen, but they still leave you feeling sad? That’s what’s happening to me right now.
My sweet Siouxsie-cat hasn’t been feeling very well lately.
I’ve written before about how I’ve learned to care for older cats and how much I’ve come to love them through my life with Siouxsie and how I feel it’s totally worth it to spend money on an elder cat’s care if their quality of life is good overall, and I’ve told you about an herbal pain medication that provided amazing relief for her arthritis pain.
But lately the herbal remedy hasn’t been providing sufficient pain control. Her hyperthyroidism didn’t respond to the radioactive iodine treatment despite the fact that we made two attempts at it. Although her kidney function has remained relatively stable, she did have a bout of pancreatitis, which probably has been going on for some time. She’s now on three medications: methimazole, medical cannabis, and prednisolone to control the pancreatitis.
Then I noticed that Siouxsie was slowing down even more, and her eyes told me that she was in a lot more pain than she was letting on. I started thinking this could be the end.
I’ve told Siouxsie many times that as soon as she’s ready to go, I’ll help her.
“I’ll be very sad when you die,” I’ve said, “but I love you enough to let you go with dignity.”
I have deeply held spiritual beliefs about death not being the end of everything, and that provides me a lot of comfort … but I’ve lived with Siouxsie since she was six weeks old! She’s outlasted romantic relationships, she’s moved house with me multiple times, and she has welcomed — grudgingly at times — new members of my feline family. Hell, she even made the cross-country trip from Maine to Seattle with me.
With a history like that, it’s hard not to be sad. It’s damn near impossible not to grieve, even though I know full well that when I said hello to Siouxsie 18 1/2 years ago, I knew I was going to have to say goodbye, too.
I understand the importance of sitting with my feelings and processing my grief, but I also have to function. I have a full-time job, my blog, and freelance commitments, and those things aren’t going to stop. So what do I do when I find myself getting struck down by the blues in the middle of a hectic work day?
I crawl the Internet for kittens!
Who can stay sad while watching videos of ridiculously cute kittens or looking at photos of darling little rescue kitties waiting for their forever homes?
Who can remain bogged down in despair and stress at the sight of teeny little kittens nursing while kneading their tiny paws and purring like little motorboats?
And then, of course, there’s the sublime cuteness and ridiculousness of LOLkittens. I don’t recommend tickling kittens’ tummies, but you’ve got to admit this is ridiculously cute:
Siouxsie certainly knows I don’t love her any less because she’s a very old cat. In fact, if anything, I’ve come to love her more deeply over the last few years than I could ever have imagined. I’ve made a vow to remain fully present with her until the moment she draws her final breath, and my recreational kitten use doesn’t stop me from doing that.
For the record, we did go to the vet last weekend, and we had an honest discussion about my concerns over Siouxsie’s quality of life. I told the vet that at this point I’m primarily interested in palliative care rather than aggressive treatment. He gave me a prescription for buprenorphine, which has given her a new lease on life because she’s not hurting anymore. But I still know all too well that we have a lot fewer tomorrows than yesterdays.
Trust me, I’m not in denial about my beautiful old ladycat’s life and health, and because she’s sitting on my lap and “helping” me write this post, I know she doesn’t begrudge me my forays into feline escapism.
What about you? Do you sneak kittens when you’re feeling blue? Share your confessions in the comments.
Read more about senior cats on Catster:
About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal rescue volunteer and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their award-winning cat advice blog, Paws and Effect, since 2003.