Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cat heaven

Good morning God,
I really miss Velvet this morning.

When we took her to the vets last night to put an end to her pain and suffering, it seemed like the right thing to do, but was it? Did we have the right? Is there an afterlife for cats, a heaven where she is finally free?

She was one of those who never stood a chance. As a result of being terribly abused by her first owners, she never learned to trust humans. In 12 years, she never once sat willingly on a lap and she only tolerated being stroked when and where she wanted, once a day, just before feeding!
But she seemed content with us and over time had managed to make a space in our home and in our lives that she knew was her own which she was comfortable with.  As long as we asked no more of her than she was willing to give - all was well.

We saw the first signs of the cancer in July, and it has been a rapid decline since then.
Her tumor was on her face, blocking her nostril, closing one eye, giving her, in the early days at least, a sort of sleepy lop-sided look, as though she couldn't quite bring herself to wake up.
And the weight just fell off her.
We could do nothing but watch as our beautiful british blue, was ravaged by this insidious disease.
There was no comfort we could give - she still didn't want to be touched or stroked, we could not give her oxygen or help her to breathe and we failed to find a food that could tempt her to eat.
We knew that we were not prepared to let her 'suffer' - but how do you know when the time is right?
Were we taking her to the vets because we could not bear to watch, or because it really was the best thing to do for her?

It's hard enough to make such a decision at the best of times - but, if you don't mind me saying God, it seems particularly cruel to have had to make it at a time when my health has been so problematic.

Like Velvet, for the last three weeks breath is something I have no longer been able to take for granted - it has been, and still is, hard fought for following a serious chest infection.  Although the infection has cleared up and I am managing to work, my breathing is still not good and by the end of each day I am completely exhausted by the constant effort of just trying to get enough air into my lungs to live another day.

When the infection was at its height - there was a time when I almost wanted someone to end my life - the pain and terror of not being able to breathe was more than I thought I could bear, as was watching Brian's distress at not being able to help in any way...
Was that memory what persuaded us to take Velvet to the vet yesterday..?

Projection - when one problem or situation is projected onto another to create enough distance to allow the more personal or difficult problem to be either dismissed, or dealt with.

Anthropomorphizing - attributing human traits and attributes to animals or objects..

Prayer - the gift you give of honest enquiry.

I believe I will live after death - and yes, I believe we made the right decision for Velvet - she is at peace, freedom from her pain and her suffering was a gift we could give her. But what I don't know - and what I need to know at this moment in time (even if it is just projecting or anthropomorphizing) is  whether there is an afterlife for cats.

What say you God?


  1. Angie - thanks for a very moving and brave post. I don't have an answer, even Jesus was pretty vague about what heaven is like. I hope you are soon able to find breathing easier.

  2. Angie,

    Praying for your breathing and comfort after your loss.

  3. Thanks Micky, thanks Dave.
    I appreciate the prayers.
    I'm beginning to think that somewhere.. there is a feisty cat patiently waiting not to be touched,but to be loved.
    For my part, I am counting down the days to having a bronchial stent fitted which, God willing, will allow me to breathe easier.
    Just one more week...

  4. Hi Angie I hope you know that both you and Brian are in my prayers. Whilst we cant know or describe the furniture of heaven I sure hope there will be comfortable chairs to curl up in and places for cats to call their own. On the other hand I'm less convinced about wasps and mosquitos and they are among the many questions on my list of things to ask some searching questions about. Look forward to hearing positive things about the stent and will be missing you on Friday. x

  5. Hi, I am from Australia.

    Please find a completely different Understanding of cats, how to serve dying animals, and of death altogether via these references.