Farewell To My Cat

Quimby the cat in July 2014.

I put my cat to sleep on Tuesday afternoon. She sat on my lap, swaddled in a medical blanket and a favourite scarf of my wife’s. A veterinarian injected anesthesia to knock her out and then delivered a fatal shot. I knew Quimby the cat for 15 ½ years. Some readers of this site may recall her, too, as she helped me review a ridiculous inflatable gaming raft in 2010 and helped me size up the current generation of game consoles in 2016.

I’m late to joining the emotional fraternity of people who have lost beloved pets. I didn’t have one growing up, so I’m only learning now, in my early 40s, what it’s like to go through this. I’ve gone from the despair of watching Quimby’s health rapidly deteriorate, to the bittersweet hope she’d find comfort by being put to sleep, to the horror of recognising that I had both the power and the responsibility to choose the day and hour of her death.

I’ve felt embarrassed and surprised to be so upset by the death of an animal in a world of far greater tragedy, and yet I’ve felt guilt at compartmentalising my sadness, of rationalising away that she was just an animal. After all, she meant far more to me than a passing bird in the sky. I grapple now with her absence.

Like any pet owner, I considered my cat to be the best. I loved how she purred and snuggled, loved how in the prime of her health she would turn a corner in full sprint by jumping at a wall, rotating her body and pushing off in the new direction, as if she was doing stunt work for The Matrix.

I recognise now what I learned from her about caring for another being, how she helped my wife and I become accustomed to this long before our kids were born. In death she’s prepared me some more, helping me learn to let go of a life I’ve taken so much comfort in knowing.

I’ve spent a lot of time this last week thinking about memories — how to make them and how to hold onto them. My phone is full of pictures and videos of Quimby. My brain is full of these memories, too. Yet I wish I had even more.

Once I knew the time and day that we would euthanise her, the day that we would prevent the cancer in her body from making her final days agony, I began orchestrating as many more memories as I could. She loved to curl up next to me when I watched pro wrestling, so I queued up a favourite moment from a 2014 match that was still on my DVR and watched it with her so that I could never see it again without fondly recalling her.

I encouraged my toddler twins to spend time with her, to tell her they loved her, to play with her, to trace her paws with crayons. I took many more photos and videos these last few days, too, scrambling to be able to conjure as much of Quimby’s spirit after her death as I could.

Throughout it all, I fretted about the inability to memorialise the physical and often tactile presence of Quimby — the pinch of her claws as she climbed over me on the couch, the soft bristle of her fur as I petted her back.

Many of my best Quimby memories are not documented anywhere but my own brain. The morning after she died, I flipped through the entire chronological gallery on my phone and felt a new guilt that the volume of pictures I took of her had diminished after the birth of my kids, whose faces have filled my photo gallery in recent years. I have no videos of her running down the hall or making that Matrix jump.

I had never memorialised her clamber onto her favourite chair as she leapt up from the floor. But that wasn’t all that Quimby was. It’s easy to assume these days that we’ve captured a broader spectrum of those we care about thanks to the ease of always taking another picture with our phone, but we miss things. That’s what our memories are for.

In the past week, I’ve found comfort in those who’ve been there before. There were the people on my Twitter who offered advice about when they knew it was time for their pet. There was the Lyft driver who, en route to a veterinarian specialist, told me with great fury about how, years ago, a vet had called to say his family’s ailing cat was doing better, then called a few hours later to say the cat had died.

There were co-workers and neighbours and friends with their own stories and words of comfort. Everyone was a reminder that the best life any of us can live is one where we help each other through our days, sharing our experiences in the hopes that it can help us all — even our cats — reach a better end.


Comments

    RIP Quimby
    Many F's to pay respect
    May she find peace with much catnip and fishies on strings to play with forever.

    So sorry for your loss. I lost my cat of 14 years under very similar circumstances. A life lived without pets is a life barely lived.

    I remember the day I got home from Computex in Taipei this happened to me and Tegan. We don't own cats, but there's been some street cats in the area we see a lot, and they're very charming. They'd hang around the back of where we live a lot, and it became very comforting to just have them around every night. Sometimes it'd bind all the apartments together as we just watched the cats play.

    Anyway, I've arrived home from a 10hr flight and a week away. About three hours into sleeping, I wake up and Tegan's in complete tears: one of the smaller cats, a young one that'd only been born not that long ago, had passed away in the alley behind our unit. Not sure what happened, but she was just lying there, quietly on the gravel near where our laundry was.

    I walked up to check, but as I got closer I saw a small line of ants going up her fur, past her face towards her eye. I knew at that point.

    Even a cat that isn't yours ... you still feel the loss of it. At least we do.

    Echoing what @commentarista said: a life without pets is like living life without friends or family. It's missing something, a hole in the heart that only companionship can fill.

    Sorry to hear that.

    It never gets any easier but you never forget them in anyway, family is family.

    My cat is a royal pain in the butt, but I couldn't imagine my life without him. Sorry for your loss.

    Pets are so wonderful and yet it’s so heartbreaking when they die, they just don’t live long enough. It still hurts even 2 years after I had to euthanise my dog following aggressive MCT. He was only 5.

    Annnnnd this is the straw that broke the camel's back. I feel empathetic for you but I don't come to a video game news site to read sad stories about peoples euthanised pets and/or personal problems.

    Kotaku has been publishing low quality articles for a while now and all these ADs have ruined my experience. Surely I am not the only one that feels the same.

    It's been fun while it lasted kotaku. I'm about to unsubscribe and favourite a new video game news site.

    Good luck

      Is it really that hard to move you mouse wheel over the article you don't want to read? Rather than going into it and making a d*&k comment like this?

    Lost my guy a little over a year ago - it bites

    So sorry to read of your loss
    Quimby was lucky to have been able to spend her life with someone who loved her so much

    As much as I understand the loss of an animal, I have to agree with the other guy in saying that - this is the last place I expected to see an article about such a thing. A video game site of all things.

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