Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Saying "Farewell" to a Furry Family Member

Today our male cat, Ash attacked me... again.

The first time he attacked me, landing me in the hospital under-going emergency surgery and then follow-up surgery the next day; was on Labour Day Monday. Fast-forward three months and we're a day before Christmas Eve (as someone eloquently told me, "Today is Christmas Adam"), and he attacks me again.

Yesterday was our 7th wedding anniversary, and we ended up going to bed really late because we were watching "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" (our anniversary gift to ourselves); so I had a bit of a lay-in this morning. I get up and am just making the bed when I slipped and fell, face forward into the bed.

I instantaneously got this searing pain in my lower back, and with my face buried in the mattress, yelled in pain. Wherever Ash was located in the house, he immediately came rushing into the bedroom, onto the bed and began attacking my head, ear, arm, and hand.

The adrenalin pumped through me and I got up fast and stood over him who was still really angry. Ben came running and started to yell, immediately I could sense the chaos that Ash was feeling and told Ben to "calm down". I spoke to Ash very calmly and started to soothe him down. When I felt he was calm enough to start moving, I started to call him and "walked" him to the bathroom and then closed the door.

He was very obviously upset and very distraught. What was going through his mind, I have no idea.

At this point, I guess the adrenalin was still flowing when I began to think how well I reacted to him and did not even panic. I had totally calmed myself down which is probably why he was able to stop attacking and calm down as fast as he did and not cause more damage.

I thought that sweat was suddenly pouring down my head, face, and neck; but thought it strange that it was localized to the left side only.

I made it to the middle of the living room and my husband telling me we had to get over to the Emergency Room (ER), when whatever adrenaline was coursing through me decided to just leave. Immediately I began shaking and crying and the only thought was to "get out of here". I walked right out into our courtyard; and really thank God for amazing neighbours, who are forever a part of our family.

They were there immediately and holding me up as I was on the verge of collapsing. They took me to one of their homes and began to clean all the blood which was streaming down my face and neck (what I had originally thought was sweat).

The decision to end Ash's life came swiftly for me today. Not because I was angry or upset with him, but because I knew that he was suffering in some way that he would react like that.

We have had Ash for three years (which would have been Dec 28th), and he really was a loving and adorable cat. He immediately cemented his way into our family when we found him that December evening at the Mesa Arizona Temple.

It is a tradition of ours to visit the Temple Lights every year on Dec 28th (not that we don't go prior to that date) as it is the anniversary of my baptism into Mormonism in 1991. On this particular year, my parents were visiting and my husband had dropped a crate on my toe (cracking the bone), and I had hobbled my way over to the Visitor's Center, and was sitting on some steps when this cat came running over and jumping into my arms. He came for a snuggle, and a few photos were snapped, and then he ran off. I observed him going into a trash can and then realised that he was a stray. I asked some missionaries if they had seen the cat and if it belonged to the temple; but they told me that he had "appeared" several days before and no one knew from where. We said that if we saw him again before we left, it was meant to be that we take him home.

Without "seeking" for him, as we were leaving, we spotted him again and with a little calling, he came running over to me and jumped into my arms. That was it, we were taking him home with us.

After he attacked me in September, we felt impressed to "give him another chance", and we did. He had a few times been provoked by our other cat to a state of being angry, but in time I was able to move past panic and get him calmed down enough to get him to the bathroom where he would calm down and we'd move on. But today, he was unprovoked and just snapped. There was nothing that could even be considered that he was provoked, he just attacked.

Maybe he has been trying to tell me that he wanted to go Home, but in my own selfishness, I did not want to let him go. I had a strong feeling that to put him down for his freaking out in September was letting him down, and I could not do that. But today, the decision was easy to make. My husband and I desire to have children, and there is no way I could trust him to not have a freak out and potentially harm a child, nor under-go the torment that these "freak-outs" would do to him.

Our dear neighbour undertook the difficult job of taking him down to the animal control shelter and she stayed with him the entire time. She told me that it was very calm and very peaceful, the doctor and assistants were all female and they were very loving and gentle with him. She said that he went very fast and just went to sleep.

While the whole ordeal has broken my heart, I also know that I was doing the best thing for him. He was a cat who loved me to such a deep extent; like a dog, I could call him and he would come running. He always wanted to sit on me and come for snuggies. He loved his Dad also and loved on him too, but he really was a "Mama's boy". So the pain and anguish that he must have felt at attacking me, not once, but twice... I can't even think.

Saying farewell to our furry family members is just as hard as saying farewell to a human family member. For those of us who love our pets as they are children, this is a horrendous thing to go through.

Going through Christmas without him is also hard, and then as we walk through the Christmas lights at the Mesa Temple on Dec 28th, well a part of me will be on the lookout for him.

Cognitively I know he is in a better place. I know that he is Home and free and enjoying all the beauty that our Father has created. I also know, and take comfort in this knowledge, that one day, we will be reunited and that we will be able to be together, without anguish or fear, for eternity.

This was a swift decision, and the pain from that decision is difficult; and while my tears are still flowing, I know that it was the right decision and that gives me peace and comfort.

So I say, one last time, the words which I would tell him each night when we went to bed:

"Good night dearest little boy.
We love you Ash, and know that you are safe...
See you in the morning."

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