Today is a bit of a personal post. It has taken me a few days to be able to sit down and write it, because I know it might be hard for some people to understand the feelings behind what I am writing. Many people have pets though, and I am pretty sure even many who don’t will be able to understand.
As I had mentioned in a post introducing you all to the other members of my family, we had a cat named Jasper. He had such a strong personality – he loved to cuddle even though he was a big ol’ tomcat, and he also had attitude that if he wasn’t in the mood to sit and hang out with you, he wouldn’t!
We had to have him put to sleep last Saturday. He was just about 5 years old.
Needless to say, my kids and I have struggled with dealing with all of it. The first couple of days I had to force myself not to sit down and vent out my sorrow and possibly say something that might make me appear “crazy” or worse….
But, I have had a few days to try coming to terms with everything. You see, Jasper had been losing weight for awhile, but we just thought he was getting more exercise since it was summer and he was always out on the prowl. Or, we even thought maybe he had worms, which we were actually treating him for. The day I realized something more serious was going on, he just laid around and couldn’t get the energy to take even a few steps. Then, I noticed every time he tried to sit up, his head would slowly start going down to the ground. He just couldn’t hold it up.
We took him in to the vet, and paid close to $200 to have bloodwork and a urinalysis done, (sidenote to any kids out there – becoming a vet appears to be a VERY lucrative career!!). It was determined he had ingested something “toxic” – but it wasn’t possible to really determine what it was. They kept him in the vet clinic hooked up to an IV trying to flush everything out for 3 days, but it was too late. We brought him back home a week ago today to spend one more night with him, and then I took him back up in the morning to put him to sleep.
I can’t even begin to describe the amount of sadness I felt. I feel so guilty because I knew some of my neighbors were annoyed with my cats running around the neighborhood. And, I don’t know if what happened to him was deliberate – I will never know for sure – but in my heart, I believe it was. That is what makes me so sad.
I get that cats aren’t supposed to be outside in town limits. I totally understand that. I grew up on a farm, and I always had cats running all over the place, and if we could afford to move, I assure you, we would be out in the country in a heartbeat.
I understand that they are a complete nuisance to people with gardens. To any of my neighbors affected by my cats coming into your yard, I apologize immensely for the times you have had to dig in your flowerbeds and found “presents” left there by my cats. I am sorry for the times my cats decided to catch a bird and leave its remains on your yard. I know that must have been a huge annoyance for you, and I really do feel bad.
I tried to keep them inside. Unfortunately, both of my cats were born outside, so it was never an option for them to not get a “taste” for the outdoors. And, I don’t know if you have ever had a cat, but trying to keep a cat inside once they have been out, is pretty much a feat of enourmous proportions. I have kids in and out of my door close to 100 times a day sometimes in the summer – and often the door isn’t even closed behind them. It just was too big of a task to even try keeping them in, so I will admit I became complacent and just let them come and go as they pleased.
Most of my neighbors have tolerated them quite well. Some even liked them. I know the daycare kids next door loved Jasper. He would often just go sit next door on the step waiting for the kids to come out and give him some attention. Other kids across the street looked after him during my hospital stays and they loved him almost as much as my own kids did.
But, in the end, I know he was a nuisance to many people in the neighborhood.
And, as I said, I am deeply sorry for that.
However – he was also a living being. One that was deeply loved by his human family. His girls are devastated at what happened to him. Losing him has been so difficult for them.
I wish that anyone who could harm an animal, that to them was just a nuisance, would have had to ride in the car with me that morning back up to the vet clinic. The heartbreak that was in the vehicle is beyond what I can describe in words.
And, maybe they should have had to go in and hold that little body, and deal with him looking at them with such trust and love in their eyes, while they gave the order that would take that life from him.
I can’t explain the sadness of having to make that decision. You know in your heart it is the right thing to do. You don’t want to ever have to see them suffer. But that doesn’t make it any easier.
I knew I had to be with him though. If I was going to be the one saying to do it, I wasn’t going to leave him alone. The girls stayed in the car with their dad while I went in. Taking him from their arms and walking into that vet clinic is something I will never be able to erase from my memory.
THAT is what I wish whoever decided this “nuisance” needed to be removed would have had to see.
I want to make it very clear that I am not pointing fingers at anyone in particular. As I said, I will most likely never know if it was intentional or just an accident. And, I know he roamed pretty far sometimes, so who knows where he even got into whatever he did.
But, I do know that there are people in this world who have done this to animals – even if this isn’t what actually did happen to Jasper. That is who this post is for. You hear about it all of the time – neighbors annoyed with the barking dogs leaving poison out for it, or annoyed with roaming cats, taking it upon themselves to get rid of the problem.
They never have to see the results of what they have done. The kids crying themselves to sleep for days on end because they miss their friend so much. The mom dealing with the guilt from having let this happen in the first place.
Unfortunately though, when you live in town, I guess you just don’t have the freedom you would outside of town. After we had gone up to my parent’s farm to bury Jasper, I was pretty devastated, and the truth is, I was ready to come back in and put my house on the market. I want my kids to be able to have pets without worrying about someone deliberately hurting them. I want to be able to have pets and let them have the freedom to do what animals want to do. And, I guess in town, that isn’t a safe option.
I realize that pets aren’t safe out in the country either. A wondering coyote can grab them. A passing car can hit them. They could get into some antifreeze laying around. Any number of natural events could happen to kill them. But it would never be deliberate – and that is the difference.
I have cooled down a bit over the past few days. I held off on writing what I really wanted to say……but it hasn’t changed what happened. Or, the fact that if we could afford it, we would be moving out of town today.
I worry about my other cat. We have tried keeping her inside more – but as I said, that is like trying to stop water from pouring out of a sieve with only your bare hands….I also worry about my dog. She runs around in the fenced-in backyard, but she has managed to escape on more than one ocassion. I worry about the other little cats I see wondering around town. And, the other dogs I see escaping now and then.
And, I know I will likely take a huge amount of heat for this post – with people pointing out what a nuisance pets running loose are. And how a responsible pet owner needs to take better care of their pets. About how it isn’t fair for neighbors to have to be dealing with animals in their yards.
I assure you, I know all of that. I feel sick knowing that I let this happen and that I should have tried harder to keep him inside.
In the end, I know that I will never know for sure what happened. It is just as likely it was an accident. But, I know there are many cases I hear of in the news that aren’t. I would like to say that this post is for those people who would deliberately do that to an animal. However, I think it would be safe to say that those people would always defend their right to do something like this, because animals are not supposed to be running around town free and coming into their yards. Which is true.
And, I am pretty sure anyone who could hurt an animal deliberately in order to not have the “nuisance” around to deal with, most likely wouldn’t take the time to read this post anyway. Or, feel the hurt and sadness my little girls are having to live with.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter I guess. Jasper is gone, and I will always have to remember that feeling of holding him in my arms while he took his last breath. He didn’t deserve to die that young. He loved his human kids, and he was a huge part of making this house feel like home to me. I miss him terribly, and I can only imagine someone who has had a pet they loved could understand the sadness that is hanging over this house right now.
And yes, I am likely coming across as the crazy cat lady – I will admit that to me, animals are almost human. In fact, sometimes they are better than some humans I know…..
If you are bothered by a neighbors pet, please, just go and talk to them! Yes, there is a chance they won’t be willing to do anything about it. I would have at least tried my best to keep them inside. Call the town and have the animal control officer come pick them up even! Or, spray a garden hose on the animals every time they come into the yard!
I don’t know what the answers are, but as I said, I guess it doesn’t really matter in this case. I did want the chance to vent, and I hope I have managed to do it in a civil manner without appearing too crazy or as though I am pointing fingers at anyone. That is not what I am doing at all.
I have tried to understand it all, and tried to help my kids through everything, but the truth is, I don’t understand it. And, I miss Jasper more than anything. I know a lot of people will likely think, “It was just a cat – get over it”, but to our family, he was pretty important.
So, I will end this post by saying we love you Jasper. The girls are pretty sure you are up in heaven playing with Guy right now, and are likely running around and playing without ever worrying about having to come back inside. They miss you and talk about you every day. Thanks for being such a good friend to them. Thanks for the times you cuddled up with me on the couch during my chemo treatments – you always seemed to know when someone needed a little extra attention. I hope you can understand why I had to do what I did – I could never have stood to see you suffer, I just loved you too much for that.
RIP my boy. Don’t ever think your life didn’t matter because it was taken so easily – it mattered to us, and we will miss you.