My Time Left with Luigi
One of my favorite parts of the day is TLC time — tea, Luigi, and cuddles. Luigi is a beautiful and gentle grey and white cat who loves to sit on my lap in the morning and supervise as I plan the day. It is a long way and a long time since we found each other, as he meowed to me from our field one spring.
Luigi is older now and experiencing many of the problems faced by geriatric animals. He still seems comfortable, interacts with his human and feline families, but is on a variety of medications and is clearly approaching the end of his life with us.
While we were sitting in the veterinarian’s office yesterday for our ongoing check-ups, with his now tiny paw resting in my hand, I read an article about hospice for cats. I found it depressing and just so sad. What would be the reason to take an animal from everything and everyone he or she knows and loves, to prolong a life without those comforts? Like every good pet parent, I KNOW my animals. I know their normal hiding spots and the ones that indicate something is wrong. I follow Luigi around with tempting treats and hold him at night while we sleep. And I will know when to let him go as his quality and enjoyment of life diminishes, when he is no longer sunning himself in favorite places, eating or grooming, or just being a cat.
Too many “hospice” situations are actually run by hoarders, and the thought of any animal, yet alone mine, enduring that is unbearable. To be without veterinary support, specially prepared foods, medicines for palliative care, or constant monitoring by someone he trusts would be both physically and emotionally cruel as well as pointless. Whatever their misleading promises or sentimental names may be, there still is no place like home. I love all of our cats equally, spending individual time with each one every day. Yet when one becomes sick or old or frail, more and more time is devoted to him or her, and the bond is even stronger.
It is a privilege to have these special days with Luigi now. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Luigi was a stray, but in many ways strays like him rescue us more than we rescue them. If only for that, we owe them a compassionate ending after the new life they began and shared with us. Soon our wonderful veterinarian will come to our home for a final act of kindness, and Luigi will be gone, taking a piece of my broken heart with him, but leaving a legacy of love.
As always, for the animals,
New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol.XXVIII, No.2, Fall/Winter 2014-2015.