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Mistress Marilyn's POV
No shit, Tempus Fugit!
Responsible pet ownership ~ 
5th-Jan-2009 11:36 pm
I feel pretty strongly about being responsible with the pets you own, making sure they have the basic necessities, obviously, and keeping them safe and comfortable. Sometimes it also means making difficult decisions about those pets, like when it's time to say goodbye.

Having pets isn't inexpensive. It costs for food, for hygiene and for medical care.

Ultimately it's up to the pet owner to assume the costs and the responsibilities.

This afternoon I sat with my sister and watched her struggle over medical decisions for her daughter's cat of 15 years, decisions that could have ended up costing several hundred dollars. She took the cat to the vet to be put to sleep, but the cat is not in extremis. He's still pretty healthy and peppy, although he's had an issue with vomiting for some time. And now he's started what the vet referred to as "inappropriate urination." He's spraying around the house, something we certainly dealt with over the years (and many cat owners experience).

It wasn't up to me to decide; I just wanted to be supportive. I offered to help pay for the tests the vet suggested. I knew those tests might eventually show he needed to be euthanized, despite his appearance. There's no way to know without having the tests. We did this for our beloved Indy several years ago, and hundreds of dollars later learned it would cost hundreds more to even attempt to keep him alive. He was already broken-hearted over the loss of his beloved companion who had finally lost her fight with disease a couple weeks earlier. He had chosen to stop eating and drinking. So we brought him home long enough to say goodbye before we had him put to sleep.

My sister has money issues. She doesn't have much discretionary income and what she does have is not used on the two cats in the household.

The vet gave her an interesting option, to sign the cat over to the hospital and let them take care of his medical needs and see if a nonprofit animal rescue group could get the 15-year-old cat adopted. I was amazed they would make the offer and go to that trouble considering how many cats are unwanted. But he did. He clearly did not want to euthanize a basically healthy cat.

So she signed him over. In retrospect, it was probably the best thing to do, although it's hard for me to imagine giving a cat to someone else after 15 years. I'm sure a lot of elderly and disadvantaged people have to give up their pets because they can no longer care for them. Craig's List is full of college students and re-locating professionals who have to find homes for their cats and dogs. I could offer to bury the cat in my back yard, but I couldn't take him home myself. My cats would make him even more miserable.

If she had put the cat to sleep, I would have stayed by her side. If she had decided to try to fix what was wrong and take him home, I would have tried to help with the finances. And I have to say she jumped at this third option when it was offered.

As I said above, ultimately the pet owner is the one who has to decide how much to do, how much to spend, how long to wait.

I hope Saxon (the kitty) doesn't suffer too much, whether he ends up in a cage for a while, ends up put to sleep or ends up in a new home. He'll never understand what's going on. And if he does 'recover' and find a new family, it might not make any difference to him. But it's a strange thing to experience, a whole new take on being a responsible pet owner.

I've had to make the hard decision to have my seriously ill cats put down. But I've never had to decide to give them away. That's something I'm not sure I could do.

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6th-Jan-2009 11:44 pm (UTC)
As someone who just spent a ridiculous amount of money (that I didn't have to spend) on a friend and family member that I had to put to sleep in the end anyway... I know that it is mind-numbingly hard to be reasonable about this issue. I'm sorry that she is having to go through this.
8th-Jan-2009 07:15 am (UTC)
You did everything you could do get the last days, the last hours, the last minutes with your beloved cat. The shocking thing for me was to watch her just sign the cat over, not knowing what would happen.

The fascinating thing was to watch the young vet trying to find options to save the cat. At first I thought he was trying to 'make money' on the thing, then I saw the opposite.

It's their choice. And hopefully they can be at peace with it.
8th-Jan-2009 04:28 pm (UTC)
I don't know how she did that. I can't even imagine what comfort that poor cat could possibly find in a strange new place, this late in life... Miss Fynn gets all upset if I just rearrange the furniture... let alone move to a whole new place!
9th-Jan-2009 02:41 am (UTC)
I have to cope with it by believing the cat is better off. Otherwise I'd feel tormented by imagining him afraid and alone in a frigging cage.
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