Friday, April 26, 2013

Saying goodbye to Blackie

Today has been one of the most difficult days of my life because today was the day I had my cat, Blackie, put down. This is the first time I have ever had to do this with a beloved family pet, and those of you who have faced similar decisions know how painful it is.

I know Blackie was only a cat, but she was my first proper (not counting guinea pigs!) family pet. We had her for nearly 21 years, so my kids cannot really remember life without her.

She was practically feral when we got her as a 3 month old kitten. When we got her home, she disappeared and I thought she'd escaped from the house and we'd lost her. But she had managed to find a small crack behind a wall and hid in that for days until eventually she plucked up courage to come out.

She became the most affectionate animal, and I know my husband will really miss her because as soon as he came home from work, she would call him and cling on to him for grim death. As for me, she would curl up with me when I was on night duty and keep me warm when I was sleeping during the day.

Blackie traveled the world with us. She came over to New Zealand when we moved from the UK. It cost more to bring her over than it did the two kids put together! Another fond (but stressful) memory was driving her down from Gisborne to Dunedin in the car, when we moved house. We had the four of us squashed into the car, with Blackie, and Angel the dog, plus I don't know how many suitcases. It took three days to drive down. We didn't have a cat box because there wasn't room, so we kept Blackie on a lead and took her for walks whenever we stopped for a break. In all our moves over the years, she never made a fuss.

 In the last couple of years, she became more frail and didn't move much from her electric blanket. She had occasional fits and I thought she was going to die over a year ago. I think she was trying to reach the world record for longest living cat, which is 24 years - at nearly 21, she almost made it. I also think she had lost a lot of her sight.

Over the last couple of weeks she has got to the stage where she really needed someone to keep an eye on her most the time. Whilst she was happy in herself, she wasn't managing to use her litter box properly, and needed help with finding her food. Sadly, I am now living in Australia and my hubby spends long hours at work, so we felt it was the right time to let her go. However, the decision to have her euthanised was the most difficult decision of my life. My head told me it was the right thing to do, but my heart found it very hard.

In the end, she went very easily - it seemed to me that she was ready to go.

We will all miss Blackie very much - she really was one of the family. She has gone from our lives but not from our hearts.


Jo Hart said...

I feel for you Sarah. We have had cats for all of our lives together (39 years). Each one a huge character and still much missed and living on in our memories for their personalities and those little things they did that tug at the heart strings when we remember.

We too brought cats with us when we moved across the world. We could not have contemplated leaving them behind! Our longest lived one was 18 well behind your Blackie in years but also black and white. We always have two so they are company for each other when we are out and although there is no way a kitten replaces one who has been lost it does provide a distraction both for us and the other cat!

I'm sure Blackie will pop into your mind at all sorts of times, I find that our former cats do and that the memories are always sweet although of course tinged with sadness.

Jeffrey Keefer said...

What a beautiful tribute to Blackie. It seems writing this may have helped you all through this difficult experience, and it is a most wonderful story to share. Thank you, and may Blackie Rest in Peace.

Mary Dunn said...

That's lovely. I've filled up reading it. Just looking over at my beautiful 17 year old Burmese, Clover. Thought she was going to be euthanised a few weeks ago, took her to the vet who suggested trying something - she's like a kitten again! They are wonderful, always there to love you and all they ask is food, somewhere warm and humans to share the cuddles xxxx

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing that, Sarah.
It's the hardest thing to do. Having made the decisions to euthanise two dogs (one aged only 6 and the other 14) I completely understand the difficulty you faced: that head & heart thing! No matter how 'right' it is, it is still the most difficult thing I've ever had to do.
We bring these animals into our lives and they become part of our families. They love us unconditionally, and bring so much joy :-)
I still miss my dogs, but always introduce more into the family because I can't live without them! Despite the pain of the endings.
You have some lovely memories of Blackie, these do help

Anonymous said...

Hi Sarah,
I am sorry to hear about Blackie, we lost our 19 year old cat recently so we do understand. As the saying goes it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all... I often think of that when I have a lady with an IUD is that harder or easier than knowing your child. No loss is easy me thinks- now where is that merlot gone.... Warm wishes V

midwife arizona said...

Im impressed totally on what she showed us here.

Bronwyn hegarty said...

Blackie is beautiful and you have done her proud. I really feel for you all. A fabulous companion like her is very hard to find. Blessings and love.

Nikki said...

I'm sorry to hear about Blackie. I've had cats my entire life and unfortunately know all to well the sadness that comes when they leave us. Thanks for sharing and I hope it helped you too.

Sarah Stewart said...

Hello everyone, thank you all so much for your very kind comments. It's funny how, sometimes, you get more fond of animals than you do people! It's going to be a while before we get another cat, because for all their loveliness, they are a tie. We're going to stay animal-free for a while, and then probably get another cat when we've finally settled into decrepit old age!

Dave Lucas said...

Hello There! Found your blog accidentally whilst looking for something else entirely! Love the story of Blackie! I've always been a cat-lover and though she is gone you will remember Blackie always! I have a "borowed" cat - he comes over to the house on a regular basis, has spent the night a few times, hangs out in the yard with us when we are outdoors. He is not feral and certainly has a home, but seems to enjoy our company so we recently gave him a bit of kitchenspace for food and water dishes. We call him Meow-Meow because he is LOUD and "talks" almost all the time! He's been coming by since last Summer.

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks, Dave, for dropping by :) I think "borrowed" animals are the have the joy of them, but not the vet bills!!