LaDona Harvey: Saying Goodbye Is Horrible...and Necessary

Phred the cat is failing, and I am devastated.

You have probably been in the same terrible position, where a dear furry friend is sick, and there is nothing you can do, but end their suffering, which means YOU will suffer. Your heart will shatter into a million small pieces, and you will cope, because you have to. 

The things we do that hurt the most, are the things we do because we have to. Not the things that are done to us. Whether you are taking your child in for a doctors appointment you know is going sideways, to divorcing a spouse no matter how much you don't want to...those things that we MUST do, are the things that cut the deepest. 

I am gutted. 

Let me tell you how I met Phred. 

A woman who lived next door to me was pregnant...and her mom brought her a tiny gray and white kitten as a present. Pregnant women aren’t supposed to clean cat boxes. Sigh.

So the lady approached my mom, who was messing around in the front yard. She told my mom she was just going to let the kitten go free. 

Seriously. A 6 week old kitten in coyote country. 

At the time, I had two cats. Jack, a 16 year old grouchy one-eyed tiger-Tom, and Angus, a tiny, blind  Siamese with heart-trouble. I resisted. I didn’t want another cat. 

Well, Mom brought this itty bitty, palm-sized ball of air and hair inside to meet me. 

She was the wee-est thing I had ever seen, with the biggest purr...ever. As soon as I saw her, I knew I was sunk. So Phred moves in, and proceeded to upend everything. 

I had never had a kitten, so I had no idea what heathen mischief she could get up to. 

Some construction workers were doing an addition to the house, and somehow, she slipped out. I got home and panicked, trying to find her. I finally found her out back...and her entire back end was covered in poop. She had literally had the poop scared out of her. 

She was, maybe, 4 inches long. And COVERED IN poo. 

That brings me to Phred’s first bath. 

I thought it would be pretty easy...she was a 4 inch-long kitten. 

It took about an hour to get her cleaned off, amid much wiggling, wailing, squirming, hissing, scratching, biting, and general bad behavior. And that was just me. Phred never got another full-on bath. I discovered kitty-wipes, which wouldn’t have helped that day, but came in handy when she got into...stuff. 

Phred never got big. She topped-out at about 6 pounds, but that purr was still the biggest thing about her. The purr and the purrsonality. She was fearless, that kitten. She decided that everyone would love her and they did. Little Angus thought she was the berries, and a good snuggle. Jack thought he was her protector. 

And mom and I fell in love. Hard. Everyone who ever met Phred did. She was, and is, an amazing cat. 

And I have to say goodbye to her Saturday. 

She was diagnosed with cancer as my marriage came to an end. We did a biopsy and a sonogram, but tests couldn’t tell us where the cancer was attached, or even what kind. 

I was devastated...and still am. My vet and I decided that the best thing to do...was nothing. Surgery could have killed her, and it wouldn’t have cured her. So we treated her with Prednisolone, and watched for any signs of pain. My vet said to make sure she was happy, eating, peeing and pooping. As long as there was no pain, and she was perky, we were just going to truck right along. 

And so we did. For more than a year. I was blessed to have that time with Phred, who took care of me in my lowest hours. She snuggles into my neck and purrs big enough to rattle the sad right out of me. Now it’s my turn to make sure she isn’t suffering. And I’m sick about it. 

You have probably been in my shoes, so you know how awful it feels. 

I will lose my baby Phred this Saturday, and I have taken another blow to the heart.