This past Wednesday, Jim and I had to say goodbye to our beautiful baby girl kitty, Carmen. She was almost 19 and had been in failing health for some time, so we knew we were facing a difficult decision sometime this Spring unless Nature intervened, as was the case when our boy cat, Winston, became very ill in 2010.
I adopted Winston in 1994, when I’d been in Baltimore less than a year and lived alone in a one-bedroom apartment. He was a beautiful 8-month-old kitten at the time – a long, lean, grey fluffball with enormous paws and a tail that resembled a feather boa. A very affectionate cat, Winston didn’t like being left alone, and every time I came home from work or rehearsal, he’d be at the front door, looking at me with huge, sad green eyes. After two weeks of this, I decided to bring home a friend for my little guy. Back I went to the SPCA, where I fell in love with a sleek, feisty, all-black 4-month old female kitten whose previous human(s) had named her Ashley. The name just didn’t suit her, and I decided this little green-eyed girl was an operatic diva – Tosca? No, Carmen! Thus re-named, she went home with me, and after an evening of hiding from, hissing at, and generally tormenting her new brother, she decided he was okay, and the two of them became lifelong best friends.
When Winston passed away three years ago, Carmen never quite recovered from the loss, and it took her about a year to even accept our new furbaby, Fabrizio, much less like him. (Fab, for his part, adored his “big” sister – she was half his size – at first sight.) As all creatures do, Carmen began to show her age, but this past December, she began to have trouble keeping food down. She also began having frequent “accidents”, something that had never been an issue, even when she was a kitten. Her x-rays indicated the possibility of cancer, and we debated the wisdom of putting an 18-year-old cat through still more tests and perhaps even surgery. She’d grown so frail that we decided against further procedures; we’d keep her comfortable with medications and a special diet as long as we could. By Easter weekend, it was obvious that she was getting worse, and after the holiday, we made an appointment to have her euthanized.
Wednesday was very difficult. We let Carmen and Fabrizio say goodbye to one another, a moment which was terribly traumatic for Mommy and Daddy. The vet and her staff couldn’t have been more compassionate; we were given ample time to say our own goodbyes. “Go see Winston, baby girl; he’s waiting for you”, we told her. Finally, it was time, and though I cried as hard as I’ve cried in years, I knew that at last, Carmen didn’t hurt any more.
Fabrizio has taken to sleeping on the upstairs couch, in a spot that was very much Carmen’s for the last few months of her life. He misses her as much as we do. We’re going to wait a few weeks before bringing another kitty home, but Fab needn’t worry; he won’t be an only cat for long.Carmen, cat, pet, vet, Winston