Aug 05

Zut the cat.

When asked, or if it comes up at all in conversation, I always describe myself as “not much of a pet man, to be honest”. Up to today, I would have thought that was the truth. But then today we had to put our dear old cat Zut (above, in a rare moment of quietness that wasn’t anything to do with eating) to sleep because she wasn’t well, didn’t have the quality of life she once had, and seemed to have reached the conclusion that she had had just about as much of all this business that she could stand, thank you very much, where’s my coat, call me a cab, see you around etc etc. My wife was, understandably, upset, so I went into the entire affair determined to be the rational one, the strong one, the clear voice of reason that could take over and help out while my wife cried.

What. A fucking. Pile. Of shite.

Zut the Cat. In a Bag.

You see, what I hadn’t realised was quite how deeply pets worm their way in to your affections. Aside from the occasional dog when I was young, I didn’t really come from a family of big pet people (note to self – try to write a movie called “Big Pet People”) and when I found myself too afraid to escape the clutches of some wild-eyed madwoman met my future wife I just sort of “inherited” her cats when I moved in. They were never, I was quick to say, my pets – they were hers. This was especially handy when one of them needed feeding / threw up / killed something / dragged a particularly dirty arse across a particularly clean patch of carpet.

Cat, blanket, blanket, cat.

Except of course they were my pets. Zut was my pet. And when push came to shove, it was my wife who was the strong one for me. She was the one who saw through my well meant but essentially self-serving arguments of “She’s fine”, “We aren’t medical professionals”, “Maybe she just needs some medication” etc etc and correctly identified them as expressions of a selfish desire to keep a loved pet near to me for just a little bit longer. She was the one who saw the kindest thing to do was to preserve the old bugger’s dignity and let her go, quietly, peacefully, loved and at the right moment rather than drag out another few weeks or months that would start to cross over that fine line from “life” to “existence”. She was the one who, frankly, saved a poor old cat from a rather miserable time of it and at the same time saved her (by now bawling and appallingly snot-ridden) husband from being a complete and utter hypocrite who would loudly proclaim to others “It’s the kindest thing to do” while avoiding that course of action himself.

All of which really means that Zut went, in the end, extremely peacefully. All of her accumulated aches, pains, grumbles and signs of wear suddenly didn’t matter. She lay down, had a last hissy swear at the vet when she got the first injection (because let’s face it, at the end we’re all entitled to a last “Fuck you!” aimed at the world) and nodded off. That was it. She got stroked, talked to and she just slept through the whole thing. She slept so deeply she didn’t even notice the two humans pawing at her ears in that way that always drove her mental. She even managed, for something with a distinct lack of facial muscles to accomplish the act, to look quite relieved at the end.

Cat in the box

So there we go. My first ever experience of losing a pet as an adult. I think overall I get an A for effort, F for ability. An old cat I loved went to sleep and didn’t hurt any more. My wife once again demonstrated that while I do a good line in fundamentally pompous good intentions she does a far better one in actually getting things done and being compassionate. All that’s left to do is remember the good times, take comfort in the fact that the right decision was taken at the right time and look forward to the point in the future where there might be the chance to give another wee cat a chance at a spoiled life of eating, throwing up, killing things and dragging arse across carpet.

Goodnight Zut. You were great. And in the end I turned into one of those fucking people who write on the internet about their cats. Touche, old cat. Well played.