On December 7, 2008 I took my cat Fred to the vet. He had a slight limp and I thought he might have injured his leg somehow, especially since my wife had temporarily adopted a newborn kitten that was displaced from her mother during Tropical Storm Fay. The vet ordered a series of X-Rays and performed an overall physical exam of Fred. After 30 minutes had passed, the vet came back with disturbing news…Fred had cancer. Hip neoplasia. The mass had grown to the point where it was affecting Fred’s movements. Further testing revealed that the tumor had spread to a portion of Fred’s spine, and was likely on the way to his lungs. The vet said there was really nothing that could be done except two choices: either subject Fred to current cancer therapies or wait and watch him degenerate. Being somewhat opposed to current cancer therapies, which are invasive, painful and often shorten life spans versus lengthening them, I opted to play the waiting game. Approximately six months later, Fred’s tumor had progressed to the point where he was having trouble walking more than 6 feet. He was lethargic and clearly in some form of pain, though in classic cat style, Fred wanted to hide his emotions. The decision was made to put him down.
I took Fred to the vet on Saturday morning at 10:50AM. At approximately 11:11AM, Fred was gone. They wrapped Fred in surgical cloth, mummy style. The vet’s assistant and front desk staff, hoping to make a quick profit from a grieving pet owner, swiftly tried to strongarm me into any number of cremation, pet burial and pet cemetary accessories plans. How distasteful! I cut them off and said I only wanted the cat. Finally, I signed a release, paid the $31.80 euthanasia fee and took my beloved cat to my parents house for burial.
Here are some details of the burial…
We buried Fred in my parent’s yard in a shaded area of loamy sand that is not susceptible to flooding. The temperature at this point is less than the adjacent areas due to heavy shading from a canopy of undergrowth and trees. The depth of the burial will probably be sufficient to ward off burrowing scavengers.
My Dad made the coffin of wood, which had a Christian cross inlaid on the top. The body was laid to rest inside the coffin. The vet wrapped him in surgical cloth but I wrapped him in a towel. We buried him with his favorite toys (chosen by him prior to his death) and three red roses. The box was sealed shut and wrapped in construction plastic before burial.
The next day, my parents put a small fence on the burial site along with a stone angel. I plan to locate and purchase a suitable marker stone for him indicating the dates of birth and death. Margarita placed a small potted miniature climbing rose on the site, which will eventually get planted. The color of the rose is light pink/white.
Each person was given the opportunity to speak some words to commemorate Fred’s life. I spoke some words and commemorated his life. I did not cry much because I have been seeing Fred degenerate for 6+ months…and the initial shock of it was worn off.
One of the worse things I have ever done though is to be present while he was put down. It is a horrendous process, and not quick like people say it is.
I miss him but I am not some emotional train wreck. I know he is in a better place.
That’s about all there is to say. He was a good kitty. He will be missed.