#154 In which our hero talks about death.
This post won’t be about Steve Irwin’s death, okay? Jesus, suddenly I’m a pariah because I dared poke fun at St. Irwin. Moving on.
Did I mention that our cat died? This was something like eight months ago. Reading Mrs. Kennedy’s post this morning reminded me that I had wanted to write about it and (I think) never did.
Sylvester was 13 years old when he died. The Scientist found him at the barn, where a couple of barnhands were taking care of a little yellow furball, who they named Sylvia. The first time The Scientist picked up this kitten she informed the girls that Sylvia was actually a Sylvester. I don’t remember why, but she eventually brought him home to share the house with some other cats and an uncoordinated Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy named Tucker.
Sylvester never took any crap off of Tucker, even when the dog grew up and outweighed the cat by a hundred pounds. But they didn’t just tolerate each other, I think they truly loved each other. That silly cat would wait by the door and complain when the dog was outside. And Tucker never failed to give Sylvester a big wet drive-by licking when he moved through the room.
Sylvester’s health had been in decline for years. Not that you’d know it to look at him… he was such a fat cat to start with that when he lost a lot of weight he just looked normal sized. But he eventually got way too thin. We have a great cat vet (seriously, all she sees are cats -- who knew there would be such a specialized field?) who helped prolong his life and his quality of life considerably. The Scientist and I administered sub-q fluids a couple of times a week, and eventually, near the end, every day. Sylvester put on some weight, and stopped throwing up all over the house. When Tucker died it seemed like Sylvester was rather mopey, and I have no doubt that he simply missed his dog.
Sylvester’s health really started to go downhill, to the point where even the sub-q fluids weren’t doing any good. Matter of fact, he started to retain water, which apparently is a sign that the end is near. We consulted with our vet, and she confirmed our fears: it really was time to end his suffering.
And this is the part where Fussy’s post hits home. Lily was a little more than two at the time, and we just weren’t sure how she would react. The entire family went to the vet’s office. Macey, of course, was far too young to even begin to know what was going on. But Lily understood that the kitty was “sick,” and that “he needs to go to the doctor.”
When we left with an empty cat carrier, Lily asked about Sylvester and we really didn’t know what to say. And honestly, we pussied out and didn’t really say anything. I think we told her that kitty needed to stay at the doctor’s office of a little bit. We wanted to see if she would remember the cat, and if we needed to have the big talk about death and all that.
As it turns out, Lily was too young to really understand. She rapidly forgot about Sylvester, and The Scientist and I didn’t feel the need to push a death talk on her if she wasn’t looking for answers. I’ve shown Lily photos of Tucker and Sylvester a few times and asked if she knows who these animals are, and she doesn’t.
We still have one cat left, Ash, and for a week or so after putting Sylvester to sleep Lily would point at Ash and say, “him misses hims friend.” Which never failed to make me a little weepy.
That makes two occasions we’ve missed the circle of life talk due to the girls being too young. I’m certainly not looking forward to discussing Ash’s death, since Lily at least will be old enough to understand that something is amiss when the kitty suddenly goes missing.
So, we’ll let Lily bask in the immortality of her loved ones for a little bit longer. Because it’s not built to last.