Today I had to put down my cat, Oistrakh, also known, at various points in her life, as Little Kitty, Fatty, the Fatness, and Dr. Oysterman, along with countless other nicknames and terms of endearment, and a hashtag (#fatcat).
She had kidney failure. It happened quickly, and by the time I realized something was horribly wrong, it was too late. We tried by putting her on an IV with fluids for a few days, but her levels never came back down. I took her home for a few days, but she was never okay again, and we decided it was time to let her go.
I’d never had to make that decision for a pet, or any of these end of life decisions, what treatment to pursue, how long to let her suffer. It was really difficult, but in the end I think I did as good as I could, and that I didn’t make her suffer too long (hopefully) and that I gave her a wonderful life. The vet said several times that this was the right thing to do, that we had done all we could and that really helped.
I woke up this morning knowing we had decided today was the day and I had already arranged my work schedule, and still, I was hesitant. It was so hard. She was still warm, still soft, and still breathing. She was drinking a little water and using the litter box. But that was really all she was doing. She wasn’t doing all the things she loved. She was just lying on a pillow. It helped hearing from a friend who said that “for all the joy she brought you, you can now repay her a bit by letting her pass peacefully.”
It was so horribly sad at the vet, but I think she was ready, and it was like she just fell asleep—she passed as peacefully as any of us could hope to. Louie and I stayed with her until the very end and then they let us stay as long as we wanted afterwards and I covered her body with the blanket before we left. Writing about it makes me cry, but I want to share my feelings and get my thoughts down here before I forget. She deserves my sadness because she helped so much with mine over the years. She was also a wonderful photography subject and…I don’t know what I will do without her…
She was such a sweet cat. She had the softest fur, and was really squashy under her skin. Cuddling with her was one of my biggest joys. Even though she didn’t really like cuddling or being picked up, she would tolerate it for awhile. She loved eating, playing with pony tail holders, sitting in windows in the sun, or sitting on my legs or near me. She always hated violin and other noise, was shy around people until she got to know them, and didn’t care for Louie’s dog and cat at all. I think they miss her, and knew she was sick. Last night Chloe came and sat by her, and I felt like that was a reassurance that she wouldn’t be sick all alone while I was trying to sleep.
Letting go of my beloved cat has made the past few days really hard. She’d lost a lot of weight and was really bony. She didn’t like being picked up, and didn’t really respond to petting. She didn’t look up anymore either.
I have so many “end of life” thoughts, in regards to my pet…most pet owners will or have gone through something similar. The other night Louie reminded me that it wasn’t a tragedy, though, this was just a dear friend dying of a disease due to being old. She had (I hope) a wonderful life and was greatly loved.
I got Oistrakh while living in Charlotte, NC playing with the Charlotte Symphony. I had another cat at the time, Heifetz, who I’d gotten around Christmas of 2001, and Heifetz was really sad and needy when I wasn’t around, so my friends suggested I get her a friend. Sometime in April of May of 2002 (not sure) a colleague had a rescue kitten that needed a home. I was able to take her in, and though she was never the companion for Heifetz that I’d hoped for, she did keep her from being quite so sad, and for several years they lived in (relative) harmony together.
That’s Heifetz, the black and white cat.
This was one of the only times she was cuddly with Heifetz. Usually she preferred a bit of space.
Heifetz died (suddenly) in 2007 and left me alone with Oistrakh. It wasn’t until after then that I really became attached to her. She had always been a sweet kitty, but when you have two it’s a little different. Or at least for me it was. I did a lot of moving, I got married, I got divorced, I met Louie…throughout all that I had my kitty by my side, and she was warm and soft and cuddly, and always there for me.
She had the saddest eyes. She always looked sad, but I hope she wasn’t and just looked that way.
Because sitting on the couch wasn’t soft enough, she needed a pillow on the couch for true comfort.
She loved boxes, the smaller the better.
And she loved sitting in windows.
That’s a box Louie made for her in the fall. It has foam from an egg crate mattress on the bottom. We put it on a table next to a window that she loved because it got a ton of sunlight.
This is the last picture I took of her sitting on my legs. Maybe it was even the last time she sat there, I don’t know. I can’t remember.
I took a bunch of pictures over the last few days, but I don’t want to share them. I want this post to be full of good memories, of a happy fatness. She was the best, and I told her that so many times. I loved her more than I should have, and I’m sadder that I could have imagined, but I’m so grateful for all our years together. I’m probably ridiculous right now for being so sad, but that’s how it goes when the best cat ever dies. And a special thanks to Louie for being supportive and wonderful throughout the whole ordeal. I couldn’t have done it alone, and I’m glad I had him to help me through it.
RIP Fatness. You will be missed. You already are. April 2002-January 11, 2016.