I was never really big on having pets when I was growing up. Sure, I had a hamster and a couple of guinea pigs, but nothing that was really a full-out, roaming around the house pet. A few months after I moved to Texas, after college, I ended up having a kitten foisted on me – the poor sucker was found sitting on the trunk of my car, and I was asked if I could hold him till the no-kill shelter had a spot in a few weeks. Yeah… he never quite made it to the shelter.
Samson’s seventeen now, and he’s not doing so hot.
He’s been losing weight for a while – he used to be this giant terror, to be honest, and I have the scars to prove it – and were that really the worst of it, I wouldn’t be fretting quite as much. The real problem, however, is that he’s been just moving more and more stiffly, to the point that he’s now hobbling around. Still nary a complaint, even if he needs to be helped onto the couch far more often than he’s able to simply jump from the floor and pull himself up, but the years are catching up to him. Our last visit to the vet didn’t show anything really concerning, but it fell into the category of, “there’s not much else to do for him but keep him comfortable”.
We’re at the point that I don’t think we can keep him comfortable (or at least, it’s painful to watch him and we can’t imagine it’s comfortable for him)… which means it’s more than likely time to have to explain about death to the Monster and R.
Telling R is difficult enough. I don’t know what R can understand, really, about the situation. He just knows as it is that he needs to be very gentle with “kitty” because he’s not doing so well. I don’t know that it would really hit him very much if Sam suddenly wasn’t around, since Sam’s not really a “playing with” cat anymore. Granted, the wife was encouraging R to feed him treats the other day, but…
No, the Monster’s the harder problem. Already nearly six years old (I can’t believe that his birthday’s next week), Sam’s been around his entire life. While the Monster also needs reminders that he needs to be gentle with Sam, he’s also the one who’s more inclined to meander over and pet and make nice with the big furball.
Now, I’ve done quite a bit of reading online, plus I know the Monster, so I know already to avoid a lot of the euphemisms and to try to be literal but age-appropriate in the explanations. But he’s never had to deal with someone permanently going away (in the sense of death) – he still asks for therapists and providers who haven’t come by for years… and I don’t know that we want to get into a situation where he’s asking where Sam is, three years for now. I don’t know that telling him (when it happens) that Sam died is going to mean anything to him, any more than my telling that Sam “went away” will prevent him from asking for the cat.
(It’s bad enough, of course, that I’m heartbroken about the decision that we all see looming on the horizon, given how long I’ve had him. And yes, we have a second cat, though she avoids the children. I’m not inclined to go rush out and get another kitten in some attempt to ‘replace’ Sam.)
I’ll let you know what we end up doing/saying, and whether we think it works when the time comes.