E is for...

I don't know what this picture is depicting, but 
on yesterday's poll, readers voted for
E is for

No, Euthanasia is not a New Wave band from the 80's.  Here's the official definition.


  [yoo-thuh-ney-zhuh, -zhee-uh, -zee-uh]  Show IPA
Also called mercy killing. the act of putting to death painlessly or allowing to die, as by withholding extreme medical measures, a person or animal suffering from an incurable, especially a painful, disease or condition.
painless death.

I've written about this topic before, as it pertains to humans, when I interviewed Death With Dignity and you can read that interview here.  I also wrote about the wonderful documentary "How to Die in Oregon," which you can read here.  What I haven't written about on my blog  is "putting down" (ah, yes a euphemism for assisting with the death) of my beloved cat friends.

After breaking up with my first boyfriend at 19, I adopted my first cat.  I named him Spooky, but I mostly called him Pooty.  

I found him in the classified ads in the Kansas City paper with the ominous headline "ADOPT or DIE." Since I'm always a sucker for a sob story, I bolted on over to the house in my little red Kharmann Ghia.  The odorous abode was crawling with  kittens and like the men I was attracted to at the time, I picked the most  sullen, indifferent cat in the corner with the sole intent to make him love me. 

Next in line were Binky and Larry.  I picked those two siblings up in Bonny Doone, California after seeing a "FREE KITTENS" sign on the side of the road on my way back home to San Francisco.  Yes, I'm an easy sell. Binky was a cute little Calico and her brother Larry was an orange Tabby.  Pooty was not happy with the new additions to our family and he began to ignore me again.

The next cat was Penny. She was my "Pill baby" accident cat. I got her from the SPCA in SF for someone else who had just lost his cat.  NOT the right thing to do.  Never adopt an animal for someone else.  I didn't feel like I could just return her, so I took her into my crazy cat box of a one-bedroom apartment.  The other cats were not amused.

Penny was the first one to go to that big old catnip farm in the sky.  She was only 11.  I came home from work and heard a horrible coughing sound coming from my bedroom.  I walked into the room and found her on my bed foaming at the mouth. I was an emotional wreck, so my husband took her to the vet by himself.  After an x-ray was performed, they found that she had lung cancer.  We decided to put her down that night.  I couldn't stand the thought of her suffering or struggling to breathe, soI felt extreme guilt that I wasn't there for her when she needed comfort.

Next came Larry. He was 15 and was in kidney failure.  Although I was extremely afraid and sad beyond belief, this time I wanted to be there in the vet's office.  Larry loved being brushed, so I brought a brush with me to the vet.  Larry trembled in my arms as I brushed his fur and they administered the first shot.  The vet searched for a "good" vein, but she couldn't fine one to give him the next dose.  She said it would probably be best if I not stay in the room as she would have to administer the shot directly into his heart.  I left that vet's office bawling like a hungry baby whose mother just left the room.  Heck, I'm sitting here right now crying  about it.

When I had to put Binky down, it almost killed me.  No parent wants to admit they have a favorite, but Binky was mine.  She was a plump, lovable Calico who liked to walk on my head at 5am.  Have you ever seen Simon's Cat?  That was Binky.  She suffered from hyperthyroidism.  After years of being on medication, she just couldn't take it any longer.  I brought her in, but I only stayed until she was given the first shot.  I kissed her on the head and left.  Heartbroken.

Then came Pooty.  I was tired of taking my cats to the vet to put them down.  I wanted him to be the first cat to die a "natural" death.  That's wonderful in theory, but it's painful to watch an animal you love deteriorate before your eyes.  He wouldn't eat, even when I broke open a can of tuna.  He'd sniff the plate and go back to his warm hiding place behind the TV.  I'd heard that animals will hide when they're dying.  One day I looked at him and just couldn't take it anymore.  He was 20 years old.  He'd been with me for half of my life and I didn't want to do it, but I just couldn't watch him suffer any longer.  I scheduled an appointment with the vet and he went "home" in September of 2009.

Even before his passing, I vowed to never own another cat as long as I lived.  Even though I loved cats, losing them was too hard.    

Well, that all changed when I went to pick up Pooty's ashes.  There was this little gray Tabby who beckoned me to her cage with her intense eyes.  And it started all over again.  The cycle of life.  Love and loss.  Here's a recent article that addresses what hurts more: grieving for pets or humans?


And you can read about our newest addition Violet who is famous.