The cycle of life and death for cats usually runs its course pretty quickly. Feral cats and a lot of farm cats have a rough life, battling weather, predators, and diseases. The only reason they live as long as they do is their remarkable hunting prowess and great survival skills.
Indoor cats face challenges too. Being in a safe environment can be stressful to cats because their natural state of being is to be constantly on alert – either to hunt or survive being hunted.
We’ve owned and lost a number of cats over the years. Dickens was a shelter cat who made the trip with us from Duluth when we moved. She was a Siamese, and had some attitude problems, but she was mostly a very nice cat.
Shadow #1 was an outdoor cat who came with our place, and one day she was just gone. We suspect it was an owl that got her. Bob was a six-toed cat who really did look like a bobcat. He survived one car/cat battle, but not the second. We adopted him from a friend, and we were glad to have him as long as we did.
Kitty adopted us. She lived in our barn and sheep shed. She was very friendly, but thought it was fun to bite now and then. She gave birth to a bunch of kittens one spring. We have away all but two. Shadow #2 was a soft and gentle female. Pumpkin was a big cat – both big boned and heavy.
They were very nice cats, all in all. Early on they both had health problems, and we spent thousands of dollars to get them mended. Shadow had swallowed a long thread that was choking her intestines. Pumpkin had a urinary system that needed a total re-plumbing.
Shadow lived to be six years old, or so. I found her in the bathtub one night. There was no water in the tub and no sign of any injury, but we wonder if she was running around and hit her head on the faucet or something. It was tough to see her go.
After our two newest cats adopted us a few years ago, Pumpkin seemed to get a new lease on life. He became more active and interested. There is no question that he disliked the new cats, mostly because they enjoyed sneaking up on him to have a play fight. With his failing eyesight, he didn’t see it as playing.
In the past year good old Pumpkin has had a harder time controlling his bodily functions, and he’s become more bold at stealing food from the counter or the stove when he gets the chance. Mostly he has seemed to be doing okay, though he is probably less than half his previous weight.
Recently he had his last vet visit, and the prognosis was not good at all. His many accidents were likely the fault of a tumor in his belly, and the odds of a successful surgery on a failing 16 year old cat aren’t good, so we made the decision to end his life calmly and quietly.
It’s never an easy decision, but we feel that allowing an animal to feel pain and fear unnecessarily is not being a good pet owner.
It’s funny, but since we got the two younger cats – and even before – Pumpkin had taken up residence on a small table that sits next to our front door. He could look out the window and stay up above the sneak attacks of the other cats from his perch. Now that he’s gone, I think we’ll have to move that table somewhere else. We won’t be able to walk by and skritch behind his ears or under his chin. He always seemed grateful for those little gestures.
Over those 16 years Pumpkin gave us a lot of entertainment, a lot of comforting cuddling, and even caught some mice. I hope we’ve done the right thing by him, and I think we have. He certainly did have a good life, and he gave us many good memories to help him live on in the story of our family.