Saying goodbye to a beloved pet and watching your child sob is heartbreaking

Sarah, our beloved cat, was put to sleep on 5 June 2019


Our lovely Sarah Bluebell was a Ginger cat who loved Haagen-Daz ice-cream, cat milk only if it was poured from a height (strange), dry food and drinking from a cat water fountain. We had the privilege of having her in our home for 14 years. A wee kitten who came to live with us when my daughter, Maelo, was only 5 years old.

Sarah was our first family pet. We do have another cat called Kitt who is featured on my blog side bar. Sarah shunned the limelight and preferred to be behind the scenes. She was regal and groomed herself endlessly. Sarah was probably similar to millions of other cats around the world but, just like kids, you think that your pet has an extra quality which distinguishes itself from other furry beings on four feet.

The distinguishing feature in Sarah’s case was that she managed to stay aloof and look disapproving while still adoring us as a family. She managed to exude both emotions at the same time in an almost tangible manner. It was eerie to watch but fascinating too. It never fails to fascinate me how animals are able to communicate and exhibit quirky behaviour without speech.

She waited for Maelo to wake up in the mornings and adored her. While Kitt, the other cat, follows Maelo around, Sarah would sit and watch Maelo instead. Her eyes would follow Maelo around.

We knew that something was wrong when Sarah became desperate for water and couldn’t get enough of it. A visit to the vet in February led to more visits and scans. On 5 March she was diagnosed with kidney problems and given two years to live. Unfortunately, this was not to be. Three months later her condition had progressed to an extent that she was given a short time to live.

Sarah stopped doing all the things that she loved. There were less meows, less growls at the birds by the window that used to drive her mad because she was an indoor cat who never actually got to chase a bird, she stopped grooming herself and her fur became matted and, lastly, she didn’t care how her milk was poured into the saucer anymore.

The vet advised us not to let the list of ‘what Sarah loves but cannot do anymore’ grow any longer. She would have lost her sight and been in tremendous pain if left to live till a natural death occurred. We took the decision to have her put down at home.

When the vet walked through the door Sarah uncannily displayed a sixth sense. Instead of running away and resisting medical interventions like she always does Sarah, instead, sat still and let the vet medically prep her for the injection. For the first time I witnessed what I had only read about, the animal instinct to know and understand her world. Sarah gave us a goodbye stare and then it was all over. She looked like she was ready to depart.

Watching Maelo cry for days beforehand still did not prepare me for her grief when the moment came. As a mother, I witnessed my child saying goodbye to a part of her childhood. After 14 years of furry companionship, Sarah had left, just like that.

We gave Maelo a few minutes on her own with Sarah. I then carried Sarah’s warm swaddled body into the pet ambulance and rubbed my face against hers for the last time. Blowing a kiss at the departing ambulance seemed like an almost desperate gesture on my part.

Why don’t we talk about the death of pets? This was my first experience and I am shocked to the core about how unprepared I was. Pets lodge themselves in our hearts. They occupy physical spaces in our homes. They have their favourite spots. They have their favourite toys. We spoil them in much the way we tend to with children. The emotional investment is vast and, yet, we don’t talk about the void left when they die.

We haven’t had the heart yet to clear Sarah’s things away. It has only been three days.

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