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2017 Killed My Cat
If you go back, way back to my very first livejournal entires, you can see wee little never, in her early twenties, living in the Concrete Bunker on Folsom Street, posting about her tiny black kittens, Ada and Perl. What you don't see in those entries is that I am in the grip of a black depression, and J has bought me these kittens because he thinks it will cheer me up. Everyone who knows me knows that I am desperately unhappy, especially J. I think that no one notices. I have been depressed for so long that even I don't notice most of the time. J says it's like living with a ghost.

Kittens do not cure my depression--my depression is vanquished by Prozac and school--ut Ada and Perl are delightful. J and I raise them together. We post photos of our cats to the internet, when posting photos of your cats to the internet was still a relatively new thing. We give them Friendster accounts. Ada is my cat, unequivocably. She is shy and sulky with strangers, while Perl is vocal and outgoing. Perl is J's cat, through and through. Perl claws J's face in the morning, demanding to be fed. Perl sits on J's lap when he plays video games.

When Ada got hepatic lipidosis, J and I learned about the Very Expensive Emergency Vet. We learned to force-feed a cat and give her subcutaneous fluids. When Ada got sick again, years later, and we could not get her pancreatitis under control, we learned to bathe a cat, to give a cat pills (Ada hated to be pilled), and how to quarantine a cat while she's recovering from surgery. Ada died suddenly. After surgery, she just never recovered. J came home and found her limp on the floor and brought her to the vet, and by the time he'd called me to tell me to come over, she'd had a heart attack and died.

Ada was my first pet. I'd never had any animal for its entire life. I could not bring myself to pick up her ashes for six months. I did not get another cat for two years.

Perl died slowly, at the age of fifteen. In her last weeks, we knew that there was nothing that could be done to save her and we could only work to make her comfortable. In her final days, we simply could not get her to eat. J pureed cat food with water and force-fed her using a syringe. We gave her subcutaneous fluids and B12 shots. We fed her so many pills. I went to the pet store and bought as many different kinds of cat food as I could find, hoping that one of them would interest her. But my hollow-eyed cat would not even drink water. And finally she was too weak to get up to use the litter box, and then she was too weak to get up at all.

We picked her up and let her sleep on the bed next to J, which was her favorite spot, with a towel under her.  And in the morning, we woke up to a couple of yelps, then she shuddered, and wet herself, and died. I will not tell you how many times we checked her breathing and her pulse before we took poor Perl's body to the vet. You think you are a hard-nosed engineer, but suddenly you're some sort of idiot optimist and nothing has ever just shuddered and died in front of you and you just want your cat to still be alive.

Neil Gaiman references aside, I do not believe in a Death of Cats, or a Death of Anything Else, for that matter. I do not think there is a cat afterlife where Ada and Perl will claw furniture together and sleep on a blue velvet chaise lounge. It is terrible thing when an animal that has loved you and depended on you for its entire lifetime suffers. This is all we have, this very brief time together. So if you still read these things, if you have made it this far, find someone that you love and hug them close, even if it is a cat. Especially if it is a cat. 
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I'm sorry for your loss. :'(

My heart goes out to you, and to J. I have lived with many cats through their lifespan, and this never gets easier. They are treasures, all of them.

We adopted a kitten in October, so the house is not entirely devoid of cats, but the new cat is very quiet and Perl meowed all the time, so the house feels very quiet.

:( It would be nice to have a cat to hug.

Sometimes I meet people who weren't horribly depressed in their early twenties and I feel vaguely embarrassed -- for them or me or both of us, I can never tell.

I think I have perhaps said it elsewhere, but I'm sorry for your loss. :(

I was a 4H kid, and all through high school we were part of the Exotic Bird Rescue program (basically, Mickaboo lite, which has its own issues). I'd both slaughtered and culled rabbits before, but those were livestock not pets. The Exotic Birds were usually from abusive homes, and one we took in had a panic reaction to certain noises. We found this out the hard way, because he startled badly, flew across the entire living room on half-clipped wings, and slammed into our plate glass window. Things seemed okay for a day or two, and then one day he started breathing strangely and we noticed blood around his nares. I took a damp qtip to clean them off so he could breathe better, and that's how I happened to be holding him when he suddenly hemorrhaged all the few ounces of blood out his nose, made a cry I cannot describe, and expired in my hands. And at that moment I realized the thing that my 4H-rabbit-project leader had said was true: "We are their caretakers, pets and livestock both. We owe them the best life we can manage, and the best death."

I haven't had a pet since I left my parents' house, because I cannot in good conscience say I could provide the first, and I cannot bear the thought of having to provide the second again.

Unsurprisingly, this set of feelings is why I don't have children. I cannot stand the idea that I might be a bad parent.

I'm sorry for your loss. All the cats will be hugged.

Thanks you for the sympathies. I know you have old cat problems of your own.

Yeah... it's sad, but still probably better than having pets that live to 120 and whose care has to be willed to others since they're going to outlive us, heh. (I cannot imagine the responsibility of inheriting the Generational Family Grey Parrot or something.)

My baby brother is currently taking care of my grandmother's blind, diabetic dog. He and his girlfriend are deeply devoted, but they are also patiently waiting for this charmless and happy dog to die.

J has written a screen scraper for the SFSPCA that alerts us when black kittens come in, because he is an adorable geek. Kitten investigation will happen this weekend. Our other cat is less than a year old and I think he would benefit from a friend his age. This would also have the benefit of getting us a kitten that can imprint on J and love him as much as Perl did.

When we made the decision to put Picat down last year, I held her as she died and it was one of the hardest and most profound moments of my life. I nursed that cat through kittenhood illnesses (ringworm, diarrhea), I spent a week sleeping with her and helping her to the litter box after her surgery to remove a tennis-ball sized tumor, and I spent hours driving her to and from her chemo appointments when she was diagnosed with cancer. Like you, we also had the fluids, meds, what food with this cat eat circus... She was only six years old, and it's been over a year and just now we are almost ready to find a new cat who will be David's cat, because Paloma is also shy and imprinted on me.

In the end, the burden we shoulder for helping them die with peace and without pain is worth it for the love they've given us but that doesn't make it much easier. Paloma is my Prozac and I'm going to go and hug her now.

J was ready for a new cat after about a week. He has felt strongly that Tesla is my cat, even though Tesla is quite cuddly with him. I can't blame J for wanting a kitten that will love him more that it loves me. Sadly it is the nadir of kitten season, so even though SFSPCA seems to go through 30-40 cats a week, all-black male kittens in the 3-6 month range are rare and someone always snatches them up before we can come see them. Hopefully when David is ready, there will be plentiful kitty options.

Re: Sending you love.

The right kitten is out there for you. We had a similar experience trying to adopt Pi.

This time I think we're going to get an older rescue, probably from the cat cafe here in Oakland. There's a cute orange tabby with a malformed paw that I keep nudging David to go meet. I'd love to get a kitten, but I don't think Paloma would be super thrilled and I'd rather have a cat that matches her energy.

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