My wife coined, and I subsequently used many times, the following funnyism regarding the inevitable, eventual demise of our cats, that they would simply be “going off to college” when they got nice and old. It helped ease the emotional burden of the thought of the finality of our pets’ lives that neither one of us wanted to face, let alone talk about. It didn’t help over these last 2 months, nor did it help yesterday when we buried our beloved Mina.
Our veterinarian felt a lump near Mina’s intestine on December 19th. On December 20th our fears were confirmed: it was a malignant tumor. Our beautiful Mina had lymphoma. It hit really hard. While Mina and her sister Bella were now 16, it was unexpected and painful. We reactively started down the road of treatment via chemotherapy, yet we would soon discover after research and consultation, unfortunately, it does NOT lead to recovery in cats. The statistics show that nearly no cats make it a year. And those that do, die shortly thereafter. It would be spending good money after bad, something we didn’t have the luxury of doing. Apparently this is a very common issue for cat owners faced with the same predicament. (Conversely, dogs do respond to chemo and can be cured.) We’d already spent almost $2,000 diagnosing the tumor. Each weekly treatment would cost an additional $500, not to mention the lack of a quality of life having to drag Mina into the hospital once a week, a place she despised. Treatment would last for eight weeks at which point it would progress to once every ten days, and then to once every two weeks, etc. Point is, even if it took, the best we could hope for would be another year. We made the decision to stop treatments and give her prednisone, a steroid which acts as an anti-inflammatory for the tumor which would make her more comfortable.
Mina’s fate was sealed but I never really embraced it. I compartmentalized the pain almost to the point where I didn’t feel any. I even joked about it, hoping to eliminate any sad thoughts that made it through the chinks in my armor. We watched her drop to maybe a pound from her average of eight. She wasn’t spritely anymore. She didn’t scratch incessantly and annoyingly at the kitchen cabinet begging for feline greenies anymore. She wasn’t interested in climbing on her kitty condo. She couldn’t clean herself anymore. She left me gifts on my pillow some nights. My Mina was slowly dying.
Saturday was miserable. She couldn’t move. She cried a lot. She couldn’t eat or drink. She couldn’t walk. We made the call to the vet. We had an appointment to euthanize Mina on Monday morning, at home. But by 10PM it was apparent she wasn’t going to make it through the night. She couldn’t lift her head, and whatever she could do it was just to muster a cry. We begged her to just let go. And she did. With me and my wife sleeping by her side she passed between 12:30 and 2:30AM.
Sunday we drove out to my sister in law’s place in Blairstown, NJ. She has 3 acres of land and graciously allowed us to bury Mina there, alongside some of her pets. This was to be Mina’s final resting place. We found a spot between two trees in the back. And I dug. And dug. And dug. And I never wanted to stop digging because I knew what it would mean. But finally it was time and I knew it. My wife brought Mina in from the house and we lowered her into her grave. My mother in law, my wife and I shoveled dirt as fast as we could on the grave. It was incredibly emotional but the hard part was over.
We’ve begun the process of healing but it hurts so bad. I miss my cat terribly. I miss her jumping on the back of our big pink chair, nuzzling her head in my chest as I scratch her chin with both hands. I miss her kneading my leg under the blankets. I miss holding her over my shoulder and massaging her neck as she drooled down the back of my shirt. I miss everything about her. I just plain miss her.
Farewell my sweet Mina. Sleep tight. I love you.