My Sophia

This is “little” Sophia.  (Circa 2004)

My cat, Sophia, passed away early Monday morning. She was very old, and had several health problems (hyperthyroid, UTI, weight loss, a heart murmur, ear infections) for about 2 years and her little body just couldn’t recover from this last bout. She was so skinny and her body wasn’t fighting off infection anymore. She’d been on antibiotics for about 4 weeks and she stopped eating on Friday.  I was so silly and must have been in denial, because I thought her special medicine food had gone stale, so I spent $50 to buy her some new stuff.  It just didn’t occur to me that she might be dying.

She had fought off illness so many times before, I must have thought this time was no different. As a matter of fact, her passing away Monday was the last thing I thought was going to happen.

If she wasn’t in the bedroom with me, I would always go out and check on her before I went to bed, just to see where she was sleeping at night. I walked into the kitchen around 12:30 a.m. and she meowed very urgently at me.  It was a meow I had never heard before and I immediately knew something was wrong. When I ran over to her she was having trouble breathing.

I picked her up and carried her to the couch in the living room.  I contemplated taking her to the emergency vet, but because our town is so small, the local vet uses the emergency vet after hours, which is 40 miles away. I just laid down on the couch in the living room with her on my chest, right by my heart.  I stroked her fur and her paws and cried quietly while telling her how much I loved her, what a good cat she was, and how I was so thankful to have her in my life for so long.  I was barely able to remain calm and comfort her as best I could.

Her breathing came in gasps with no inhalation in between until it became longer and longer between the gasps. She took one last gasp, closed her eyes and passed away right on my chest. I was so glad it didn’t last longer because I was so frightened that she would have to go through that all night. I didn’t even have time to decide on putting her down, although I was never crazy about it, but during those last minutes, I understood why it is done. It was excruciatingly hard to hear and see her like that, but everything just happened so quickly and after hours, so it was all I could do. I’ve never experienced the death of any pet that close and intimately and to tell you the honest truth, it was peaceful but. . . heartbreaking.

I am lucky that I now live only 90 miles from my immediate family.  So, I drove to my parent’s house and buried her there under a beautiful Spanish olive tree in the front yard. She would often come home with me for holidays or stay with them when I was going on an extended trip. She even had her own Christmas stocking.  She was very much a part of our family.

I am doing pretty good now too. I’m getting to the point where I can smile when I think of her instead of crying.  Sophia and I had so many wonderful memories, as she was with me for over 13 years. I still have no idea how old she was when I got her, maybe 2? The vet thinks she was older than that, so she was maybe 16 or 17 when she passed away. I still have moments when I miss her, especially when I am at the house alone, but I know that it will get better and that she is healthy now and sleeping in some warm spot with her grey shiny, fluffy fur shining in the sun.

This is “old” Sophia.  (Circa 2013)

I’ve struggled and felt a lot of guilt over letting her die at home instead of being “put to sleep”.  I also believe that she did not suffer much and not for long.  I don’t know which way of dying is better. Any way it happens, dying is hard and it hurts so much. It’s probably the worst hurt out there, but I find it easier when I think of it like this: I was her Momma, kinda like I have a Momma. (This next part is kinda silly, but bear with me.)  Now, if I was a cat and I passed away and was looking down on my Momma, I would not be focusing on how I died (natural, accidental, or euthanasia). I would want her to be okay and happy.  I would want her to know that I am okay and happy.  I would want her to remember the good times we shared, and how well she took care of me, and that death was going to happen, no matter how . . . and that I love her.

I hope this entry will help anyone who has lost a pet recently, in the past, or is struggling with the loss.

This is “queen” Sophia!  I loved her little paws!  (Feb. 2014)

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