Tags: blogging, cat cards, cat euthanasia, cat illustrations, cat stories, cat story, cats, euthanasia, natural death, Patti Waltz, Patti's Paw, Sequoia
When it comes to end-of-life issues with pets we often hear that euthanasia is the more compassionate route. Natural death almost seems controversial. And with humans it is obviously the opposite. My Mother died 10 years ago this month, I certainly never would have considered putting her down. I took care of my Mother the last few months of her life. And I was with her when she died. Words I would use to describe the experience of being there for my Mother from the beginning of her diagnosis, to the end of her life, would be as follows: bonding, empowering, surprisingly joyous, of course sad, loving and compassionate. I believe there are invaluable life lessons to be learned when helping the dying.
In regards to Sequoia, she is facing her death with grace. She almost seems to be trance-like. I love doting over Sequoia, just as I devoted myself to my Mother through her process of dying. Death can be drawn out and slow, but once we come to terms with the inevitable, caregiving for the dying teaches us about compassion in ways that only death can. It’s heavy stuff, but there’s no avoiding it. And besides that, it may help us to confront our own eventual death with a greater understanding.
I have had 9 cats throughout my life. I’ve had to face the difficult decision of putting my first cat down and eventually my beloved Bubba Boy. I’ve also had 2 cats disappear, leaving me with the endless and mournful wondering of whatever happened to them. And now… Sequoia. If she was in severe pain, I would consider euthanasia, but she doesn’t appear to be. The only time she cries out is when she is either cold, or wants to sit on my lap. I’ve given a lot of thought to Sequoia’s death and feel no desire to interfere with her living out her life in her own way, facing her death in her own time.
Not only do I believe euthanasia depends on the circumstances surrounding the cat, but it is a personal decision as well. And all of our personal decisions and philosophical views of life are based on the collective experiences of our past. However, euthanasia is so commonplace. I was in emotional turmoil for 3 days over this decision. I felt pressure from the veterinarian and from some of my friends. I tried to find sites on the Internet that discussed natural death and was overwhelmed by sites that encouraged euthanasia. I began to doubt myself. Here is a quote from a popular website which seems to be a standard response. “Keeping your cat alive and suffering because you cannot deal with his death isn’t humane. When he can’t enjoy even the most basic of life’s pleasures, such as eating, ask yourself: Is it time?” Am I picking up on a contradiction? Isn’t it more like, we euthanize our pets because we can’t deal with death? Does mainstream America turn a blind eye to the process of dying and death? And if so, maybe we should think about why.
Anyways, maybe I wrote this to reassure those who are making a decision to let their cat die naturally. Or maybe I just wrote this to reassure myself. Whatever the reason… it comes down to two things, is your cat comfortable, and your philosophy of life and death.
(cat illustrator of Patti’s Paw cat art cards)