Writer’s furry friend leaves lasting memories

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The hardest part of having a pet comes at the end. No matter how it happens, losing a furry friend is awful, but it becomes a more excruciating experience when you must choose the hour of their passing.

Molly the cat was a gorgeous cat with the ugliest meow in feline history, received from friends who rescued her. They would have kept Molly except for the three kittens they adopted after she joined their household.  When these little ones became adolescents, they began tormenting the quiet, shy, softest tabby around, Molly. So she came to live with us.

The hardest part of having a pet comes at the end. No matter how it happens, losing a furry friend is awful, but it becomes a more excruciating experience when you must choose the hour of their passing.

Molly the cat was a gorgeous cat with the ugliest meow in feline history, received from friends who rescued her. They would have kept Molly except for the three kittens they adopted after she joined their household.  When these little ones became adolescents, they began tormenting the quiet, shy, softest tabby around, Molly. So she came to live with us.

From the beginning, she ruled the roost.  She quickly made it clear to Rocky, our now departed schnauzer, what was acceptable in her new home.  Molly and our outdoor cat, Sam, never were pals, but they reached a respectful agreement to hold each other in slight disdain and remain at arm's length.

A couple of months ago, I noted she had lost some weight.  The vet determined the lymph glands in her abdomen were significantly swollen, an indicator of inflammation in her body.  The vet did not recommend a battery of tests; we surmised it was some sort of cancer.  To reduce her inflammation, the Doc gave her a heavy shot of steroids, to be repeated every three or four weeks. 

This treatment brightened her significantly; her appetite improved, and she showed greater energy and a greater interest in her humans.  But despite this regimen, she continued to lose weight.

My ex-wife called while I was out of town.  Molly was not consistently rising from her sleeping spot to use the litter box now located for her convenience in a corner of the living room. A wet washcloth was needed to clean the poor cat’s downy soft fur.

I returned to the old house with trepidation.  We had gone through this with Rocky: you don't want to hurry a pet out of this life prematurely, but you don't want to keep them around too long. How do you know when it is their time to go?

Seeing Molly unable to keep her coat clean and witnessing her occasional stumble while rushing to devour the wet food her body could no longer absorb, I had to face the answer in front of us. I made the appointment for later that day and counted down the awful hours.

How strange that a little cat can fill so much space in a household.  How empty that space feels now, and how large she looms in my sons’ stories of Molly planting her posterior immediately adjacent to their heads as they slept or faithfully minding their laps through hours of video games.

How glorious to share existence with a soul so gentle and accepting, and how easy it was to take her for granted.  We shall remember Molly always; here's hoping that memory will remind us to better appreciate those with whom we still share this life.

Pat Grimes, a former South Bay resident, writes from Ypsilanti, Mich. He can be reached at pgwriter@inbox.com