Today, I asked the vet to euthanize Orange Cat (more familiarly known as Puss and Old Man). He was sixteen and in the final stages of renal failure. It was absolutely the right decision and this absolutely makes me no less sad.
Old Man has lived with me for longer than Al has. I picked him up from the uni vet. where he had been an injured stray the lecturers used in training up students. People cried when they said good-bye to him, and it soon became obvious why. He was a loving and friendly and boofy kind of a guy. Puss was an alpha male in his day, huge and strong and absolutely unafraid of all comers. He was a hunter, and many times embarrassed me by dragging in dazed wild-life during dinner parties, or stashing a dead possum under a housemate's bed. He offered up snakes and rats as tokens of his deep affection for me.
And that affection was the core of who he was. He was free with his favours and wherever I lived he was familiar with the neighbours and regular passers-by. He sat outside on the street, soliciting pats, and made home visits to help himself to any food on offer (or there for the taking). But he was loyal and always came home each evening to sit by the fire or on my lap, to warm my bed for me and awake, staring into my eyes with his head on my pillow. Even when I betrayed him by re-introducing Al ('that fellow who won't let me sleep in the bed') into the household, followed by two dogs ('What the ?!!?) and then some kids (you've got to be kidding!), he put up with it all with a begrudging grace. Plus, he knocked on the door when he wanted to be let in - that's really cool.
Pets are part of the dynamics of each household - things already feel different, opening the back door and remembering Puss won't stroll up demanding something from me. Puss and our dog Jasper are integral parts of the way our family shows love and has fun, and it's very sad that we have to find new ways of doing these things.
I'll miss the old fellow; I already do.