Today our 15 year old cat Milli had to be euthanased.
She had a stroke about 3 weeks ago, and while I was away on Camino, she lost most of her sight and her hearing. I suspected kidney failure, and the vet, who at first wanted to try various treatments and tests, concurred after an examination. With extremely low blood pressure, and dehydration from failure to drink, her organs were shutting down.
I feel very conflicted doing this to an animal. God knows how anyone can do it to a human being. Yes, it is a “good death” in the sense that it is relatively painless and is done in a controlled context, but it is death: the ending of a life. And whether that is done with a bullet (as was the case when I was a kid on the farm with excess cats), or drowning (which I knew many people did with unwanted kittens), or with sedation as in Milli’s case, it is not a good way to treat an animal with whom one has built a bond of trust and care. Again, as I said, God knows how anyone could advocate this for a human being.
I get the whole “go when you choose”, and “free from pain”, and “with music and chocalates and champagne with my family around me” etc. etc. But the thing you are doing is taking away life. Life that is a gift, a should always be valued as such. The lives of cats, rats, plants, and human beings all have different values (the last of these being an infinite value) and of course we expend resources accordingly, but it is still a hard thing, a profoundly against-the-grain thing, to put an animal to death just because they are dying and we don’t value their life highly enough to spend megabucks on them until they die a natural death.
Milli had been a member of our family for many years. She was a year younger than our eldest and our a year older than our youngest. She found it hard to adjust to our new cat, Meeshi, who live indoors and has the run of the back yard (Milli slept in the garage and had the run of the front yard). She was really put out a few months ago when we hosted a stray cat and her three kittens who also took up residence in the garage until we finally decamped them to the RSPCA for adoption.
Now the garage is empty. The pet cemetary out the back is getting rather full… I cried my way through the Burial Service for a Pet with my youngest daughter. There are fresh flowers on the mound. Thanks be to God for these animal animae.