I am grieving and my heart knows why but my head can’t quite grasp the intensity of the feeling. Grieving for a cat? When others around me are grieving for a child, a spouse, a parent, a friend? How dare I cry hot, salty tears over a small, grey, fluffy ball of fur?
But cry I did. Sobbed, even. Before, during and after she was ‘put to sleep’. The tears kept falling and there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop them.
I am crying now, my fingertips slipping on the dampness of the keyboard, remembering the dreaded one-way journey. My voice was shaky as I stroked her, pretending that everything would be alright, knowing damn well that the drive home from the vet’s surgery would be done alone, without that thin, earnest face peering out of her carrier on the passenger seat beside me.
Would I have preferred her to die at home, in the comfort of her own favourite armchair? Of course I would. But watching her suffer for days on end became unbearable. I had to do something, make the final decision that can only be made for our animals, take her in and then let her go.
But the weight of that choice lies heavily on my shoulders. And the guilt of my grief does too. You have no right to be so sad, I keep telling myself, you should be ashamed of yourself. She was just a pet for goodness’ sake.
But are our pets ever just pets? Or are they fully acknowledged, hugely deserving, wholly integrated members of every single family who has the pleasure of ‘owning’ one? Will we ever realise what a huge part they play in our lives, sometimes for many many years, until they are finally gone?
Pistache was with us for thirteen and a half years. Her absence is like a big feline-shaped hole in the centre of our home. I stumble into it sometimes and find myself looking for her in one of her favoured spots. Some days I’m sure I can hear the kitchen door creak the way it used to when she pushed her way in. My head knows it doesn’t but my heart thinks it does.
She was my delightful, much-loved, darling child-cat, so when all is said and done I think I will just cry if I want to…