Pets and Euthanasia

This is a rather personal post, with very little to do with beer…

I’ve always grown up surrounded by pets – cats and dogs, mainly cats.

Even when I went off to University, cats would seek me out.

I’m from a small family, mercifully the deaths of close relatives is currently 2.

Of course you worry about writing something like this that you are tempting fate, but to hell to fate, life is what it is, as too is death.

The amount of pets that have died is quite staggering. When I lived with my parents we had 5 cats and 2 dogs. When one of the dogs died my mother went rather mental, volunteered for the Cat’s Protection League and next thing I knew our house had 1 dog and 14 cats.

Currently my home (free from a cat-obsessed mother) contains just the 2 cats.

Just before Xmas it was noticed that one had an enlarged chin, so off to the vets for a check-up (the vets, which used to be a pub).

A tumour was growing inside his jaw bone. We were given steroids to fight the growth and antibiotics to combat any possible infection.

And so with the news, you live knowing that one day you will have to make a decision about the life of a cat.

I’m of the “if they eat, they are OK” train of thought.

Well, except with the last family dog…whose back legs went. So where the front end was eating and drooling and barking and sticking its nose in your crotch, the back-end just stopped working.

This tumour continued to grow in the cat’s jaw, but the cat continued to eat, bounce on the furniture, claw the crap out of anything made of fabric, get hairs all over the place and succeed in waking the house up before any alarm had gone off.

There came a point when he couldn’t really chew his food, but was OK with it mashed up.

The cat continued to eat, bounce on the furniture, claw the crap out of anything made of fabric, get hairs all over the place and succeed in waking the house up before any alarm had gone off.

There came a point when he couldn’t really pick up his food but he was OK when you fed it too him.

The cat continued to eat, bounce on the furniture, claw the crap out of anything made of fabric, get hairs all over the place and succeed in waking the house up before any alarm had gone off.

There came a point when I knew that the condition was going downhill like a Luge competitor and I started roasting chickens for treats that I could fire into his rapidly narrowing mouth.

The cat continued to eat, bounce on the furniture, claw the crap out of anything made of fabric, get hairs all over the place and succeed in waking the house up before any alarm had gone off.

There came a point when his mouth started bleeding and there is a point when eating, bouncing, clawing, malting and meowing are not the only factors that make up quality of life.

But that is the worry – am I still being to hasty? I’m a viewing the ever-increasing attention I need to pay to this cat as something of a burden?

The life of something as a burden to my non-stop life? What selfish twaddle. This cat is still the same cat as he was those months and years before the small swelling on his jaw was noticed.

Or maybe it is out of selfish behaviour that we are keeping him alive.

Of course, when I say keeping him alive, he is a cat, he will fend for himself when the servants aren’t there to do the bidding.

The harsh reality could be considered to be, rather than keeping him alive, we are allowing him to live.

We can “play God” and end the apparent suffering.

He can’t tell me how much pain he is in. He just carries on as normal as all our emotions twist continually.

This is a cathartic essay of sorts, but there are two things I should make clear as I wrap this up:

– When it comes to any sort of present tense of the story with my cat, it is now really past tense.

– In the hopefully very distant future I could re-read this piece but instead replace the word cat with Dad.

Our squeamish nature over death and our moralistic hand-wringing over having some dignity when we are about to shuffle off this mortal coil are brought under a microscope when it comes to a pet, but at least we have that choice to make a mature decision about the many factors associated with it when it comes to an animal.

The arguments against euthanasia are sensible, but every life and its subsequent end needs to be evaluated individually and as free thinking people we should all be allowed that choice to make by ourselves and it is a choice we should all give considerable thought to and take actions to plan for what is inevitable, but will never be dictated to by any delusion of so-called fate.

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