“In praise of pets”–passing it on

Julie Threlkeld, a marathoner I work with, has posted an account of the life and 1999 death of her cat Stumpy on her blog Races Like a Girl. (You should also read her Haiku blog, as there’s some damned funny stuff in there.)

My mom lost a cat this year. This thing was basically supernatural. My mom had forgotten just how old Chloe was, but I knew, because my mom got her (not as a kitten, either) when I left for college in the fall of 1988. That meant that when I returned to New Hampshire about a year ago, she was at least 20 years old.

Chloe in her youthful days was a rather typical capricious feline–she might like you and could be sociable, but you needed to earn her trust. In the times I managed to visit my parents between 2002 and 2008, when I lived chiefly in the Roanoke Valley of Virginia and South Florida, she seemed to be undergoing a predictable age-related decline. Once she reached 15 or so, she appeared to be effectively done for, with apparent thyroid problems, a tendency toward isolation, and all of the other nasties that plague cats in their golden years.

When I got back here at the end of last year, I was startled to find that Chloe had become unaccountably revitalized, being ever the friendly, even gregarious creature she had never been before and showing no signs of age. In the course of a single day this winter, though, she went straight downhill, becoming unable to climb up a flight of stairs or jump onto the couch in her accustomed spot next to Nubble without help. I was there for this and lifted her up next to Nubs, and spent the next six or so agonizing hours with her, which involved a lot of pissing and shitting and a seizure before Chloe let go. It was just that fast.

She had a great and long life and there’s no better way to bow out, if you ask me.

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