Thursday, January 12, 2006

Orange Kitty's Final Hour

On Tuesday, at about 11:45am, Orange Kitty breathed her last breath.

Euthanasia wasn't exactly what I expected. I'd never put a pet to sleep before. This was a learning lesson. I would do things just a little bit different next time.

The vet came to our house. The poor man! To walk into someone's home and cause so many tears with your presence!

He gave Orange Kitty an injection to sedate her before the lethal injection. She hated it! It was an intramuscular injection in her left thigh. She turned and hissed at me and bared her claws at me as it was done. She'd never hissed at me before! Not even with all of the fluids I'd given her through a needle. I felt so bad that it hurt her so!

She then stood up and repositioned herself. And she layed down so naturally, but then her head got heavier and heavier.

Then she started vomiting as a side effect of the sedative! The vet clearly felt bad and apologized multiple times, saying that didn't happen very often. Orange Kitty had had stomach problems, so I didn't begrudge him that, though I was anxious for her to feel better.

The vet then shaved off some fur from her front left paw to find a vein. He asked if we had any final words to say to her. My mind went blank.

The lethal injection didn't work as quickly as I'd anticipated it would. She breathed several very infrequent but deep breaths for about two more minutes after. The vet turned his back on us after looking for a blink reflex and listening to her heart and said, "Well, I have to bag her now."

She was still having a few of those deep breaths! I said, pathetically / inassertively through my tears, "Can we wait until she stops breathing?" I felt panicked. He wants to bag my cat before she is fully dead!

The home vet had asked if we wanted to take her to the crematorium ourselves or if we wanted him to cremate her for us. I asked if he would take her, since we don't have a car. But then I realized afterwards that he needed to rush to his next appointment. Next time (we do have two more cats and a dog whom we'll likely outlive), I would take our pet to the crematorium ourselves, so we could spend as much time with him/her as we want.

I still feel good about the experience. He waited for her to stop breathing, per my request. And he left us a condolance card with a phone number for a 24-hour grief hotline. The only thing I'd do different next time is that I would take her to the crematorium ourselves.

It was very loving to get to hold her as she died, despite how sad I was to hand her limp body over to the vet.

The rest of the day, her body having left my presence prematurely, I wrapped myself in the blanket she died in and wore it around the apartment for the next few hours, just to feel close to her.

I made a crayon drawing of her as an angel (crayon, because I didn't want my ego invested in how the picture would come out, since it was meant to be therapeutic and not a source of frustration). And I lit a candle in her honor before going to bed.

The house has felt empty and quiet since she died. I wake up every morning with an ache in my heart, knowing she's gone.

But I feel that she is at peace and I have prayed that she knows that I loved her.

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