I can’t. I just can’t.
Most of my cats are becoming Senior cats. It happens fast. You have a 3 year old youngster and suddenly she’s 8 and-a-half and because she came from a litter where her siblings both passed young due to issues (George at 3 with renal failure, Bailey at 4 with brain lesions), you watch her like a hawk. She has been slowing down a bit and was always very, very skittish, but she is a sweet girl and I adore her.
But it has begun. She had begun hanging out with us more in the last few months, seeking out affection. Odd for her but always welcome. The “old-age circling” began, though…..and it has become bad. This is a sign that there may have been a “senior neurological event”. Brain lesion, stroke, etc. Brain lesion, I understand all-too-well, because her sister had one that caused MS-like symptoms and then a very sudden but peaceful passing. She was happy to the end despite her difficulties.
Izzy, though, is different. While the symptoms are similar, there is an overall weariness to it that tells me I may need to decide and make a vet call in the next day or so. She eats, she drinks. She purrs, she is alert, she gives me her love eyes and chirps every so often. But she is tired. And has trouble walking to her litter. I hold her, croon to her, clean her, feed her. My heart aches. I love her so. I helped to guide her out of her mother (my daughter’s cat, Chicken) and saw her little spots and knew she was unique. After losing Roo so suddenly on March 1st to an asthma-induced seizure, I don’t know how my heart can survive this when it happens, because I know it’s going to. And if I have to hold her in an impersonal vet room like I did her brother while the shot was administered and he looked up at me, believing that I was making him better, it may break me in two.
I hesitate to express these feelings here. They are animals, pets. The world is a cruel, vicious, angry place. Hate flows freely everywhere. People are dying, dealing with traumas and catastrophic events and illness, and here I am, with a blessed life, losing my shit because I am more than likely going to lose her now after losing my Roo so quickly. But they – my animals – are my family every bit as much as my human family is. I laugh at their antics, beam and crow with pride when we reach milestones, babble on to the husband about “What your daughter/son did” when he gets home at night. We integrated my mom’s two into our family when she passed and I worried over them, feeling their grief and knowing that while we shared that in common, they felt it on a much more confused level. I reveled in their eventual acceptance of us as their humans. I have stared into luminous, green eyes and felt love so all-encompassing that it takes my breath away. I have felt little paws wrap around me and grip tightly in relief when I have rescued them from the streets and provided a safe, warm place. I have birthed their babies, held them when they were sick, and delighted in their play. I have loved. I love.
I am their mother. I am her mother. And a mother should not have to lose her children. This is the thought that comes, unbidden. And yet, I will lose my children, because cats don’t live forever. My heart is torn to pieces now, raggedly sewn back together, and it is simply too soon. I don’t know if it will survive this before those wounds are at least freshly healed and scarring over.
How do I say goodbye to this face? How do I?