I used to use Biofreeze, but our cat Lexus’ uncanny attraction to all things mint eventually forced me to find some non-scented pain relief cream. That cat’s love of mint may have exceeded her love of catnip. And I mean anything with or smelling of menthol, spearmint, peppermint, and wintergreen. She was a social cat who liked to be with her people. She loved to sit on the bathroom counter when I showered, or when I did my end of day face washing and tooth brushing. At times, brushing one’s teeth became a chore of trying to shut the door before she got in. When my husband would leave his gum in his pocket, she would smell it through his jeans if she was sitting on his lap. Mint made her incredibly high and crazy – like drooling catnip fanatic crazy. Her eyes would get this ‘crazed ex-girlfriend stalking you’ sheen. And, yes, I’ll admit there were plenty of times I would blow my breath in her direction after brushing my teeth just to see it.
Since childhood, when I get milk out of the refrigerator, I shake the carton. Don’t know why. Every single time. That sound would bring her running. Lexus loooooved her 2% milk. She’d drink 1% if we had it, and always turned up her nose at skim. A kitty after my own heart. We wanted to eat an ice cream sandwich? No joke, the sound of unwrapping an ice cream sandwich, no matter how hard we tried to be quiet or slow, would also bring her running to the kitchen, even from a dead sleep two rooms away. Our other two cats, her daughters, get wet food; Lexus – dry. Separate eating spaces even. Not too far apart, but even friendly cats can get super territorial when it is feeding time.
On October 3 when we arrived home from work, we came to decision that it was time for her. She barely ate the day before, and had nothing to eat or drink that day, or the next. She increasingly had difficulty walking. That night was the worst. With all the tumors in her lungs, we were told to not just watch her food intake, but her breathing. That was still fine, but that night when my husband picked her up and laid her on the couch, she lay on her side all night, in the same position, motionless until I got up at my usual 5:45am. Honestly, we both half-expected her to have died during the night. I thought how much easier that would be, if she would just slip away in her sleep. One of the other things that bothered me was that she did not purr anymore. I hadn’t heard it a couple of weeks. Every once in a while, I thought I would catch the slightest vibration when petting her, but the sound had vanished.
On October 5, after both of us spending the night on the couch with her, we took her to the vet a couple of hours after they opened. For a cat who had barely moved and had not eaten or drank anything in three days, she made a remarkable show of life. She even bit the veterinarian who put her to sleep, which is fine, because that vet is my least favorite of the doctors in that office. 🙂
In some ways, I think we could have kept her with us a few more days. But then I think of how much more pain she might have been in if we had. No food, dehydration, and tumors ravaging her tiny body are so much worse than any selfish decision we could have made. The tumor on the underside of her jaw had doubled in a month. The ones covering her stomach felt like they had multiplied. I know there are people in this world who would have taken their animal to the vet, gotten them IV fluids, force fed them, but that seems cruel to me.
My husband had to go to work that day, and I felt so awful for him. Had there been anyone to cover his shift, I know he would have stayed home. I was off work, thankfully, and once home alone, I did okay. I did okay until 6pm rolled around, which is dinner time in our household. I realized for the first time in twelve years I only had two cats to feed. I realized when I opened the freezer that evening and saw the box of ice cream sandwiches that I would never have to worry about trying to eat one in peace again. I don’t need to shut the bathroom door to brush my teeth, and my husband can leave his mint-flavored gum anywhere he pleases now. Neither of the other two cats meows incessantly for a bowl of milk when I get it from the refrigerator, so it’s a quiet occasion except for the shaking. All of these strange little habits finely honed for twelve years, which is how long I lived with that cat. It’s depressing to realize the actions that have become second nature are no longer needed.
We went to the funeral home a few days ago, picked out a nice urn, and collected her ashes. One of the catnip toys we have is this grey mouse. It’s awful looking now. Completely ratty, no tail, and half the fur missing. It was one of Lexus’ favorites, so I put in inside the urn, and as one of my friends at work stated, I did begin to feel a little better once she was home.