On Monday, February the seventh, 2011, my father shot my cat twice in the head. Once to kill, and once to make sure he was dead. My cat that I have had since I was in middle school is dead and buried in the garden next to the guinea pig and some special chickens.
He was not shot because we did not love him, but because he had cancer, in his stomach and spreading up one leg towards his spine. We had planned on letting him die, since he seemed to be in no pain and was still eating (though not enough- I haven’t seen him actually poop in weeks), on his own. We did not take him to the vet for euthanasia, because he would have ripped himself open even more.
You see, the cancer had gotten so big it split the skin. He had a raw and weeping wound on his belly that he could barely reach to lick.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. He had a surgery to remove a previous lump. It was supposed to be completely removed, but it grew back. The labwork (not the vet, though. It was the nurses who gave us the actual paper) said he had a particularly malevolent and nasty for of cancer. When the lump came back, I tried to think it was scar tissue, but I knew better.
We killed him twice. Once by opening up the cancer, once with a bullet to the head.
I am not writing this for you, oh reader. I am writing this for me. I tend to forget things, when the grind of time smooths the edges of pain to a uniform past.
I will not forget this.
I will not forget sunwarmed fur on my face.
I will not forget the way he guarded me at night.
I will not forget how he always purred, rough and rumbly.
I will not forget the way his butt would always lift in the air when I rubbed my hand down his spine.
I will not forget the way his body writhed and spun when his spirit fled in front of a bullet.
I will not forget the blood on the grass, or on his nose, or on his fur.
I will not forget how the bones left his body and the way he was so terribly, terribly limp.
I will not forget how my mother laid him to rest in the shoebox strewn with rosemary, curled up as if he was merely sleeping in the sunshine.
I will not forget my cat, called Moosie, called Demon, called Thomas, called Cat. I cared for him in his life, and I care for him in his death.
Remember, oh reader, when you get a puppy or a kitten, and the newness of them dazzles you, that just as their life is in your hands, so is their death. Remember that their blood is always on your hands and in your heart. They, who love without reservation, deserve nothing less from us.
Remember them, and love them.
I love you Thomas.