Marty was my oldest cat, and this week, we had to put her to sleep. It is terribly sad and will leave a huge hole in our family, but as I counsel my clients, I’d like to focus on what a special cat she was.
Marty was a tiny Siamese seal point cat. At her heaviest weight, she was never much over 6 lbs. When we adopted her from the Humane Society in 1999, Paul thought she was a kitten. Her claim to fame was her power house voice. She was extremely vocal, and in true Siamese fashion, had a repertoire of yowls and howls that could be blood curdling at times. She was our official greeter at home. Whether you like cats or not, Marty would come up for a cuddle and a pat. Every kitten we adopted got the ‘Marty’ treatment. She had a mothering instinct, and would be the first of our cats to show the new addition the ropes. Nothing was sacred to her, as the dogs found out. She loved warmth and would nestle on top of them for a cozy nap.
She taught me a lot about senior cats. She lived with us for 16 years, and she was probably 2 years old when we got her. We dealt with arthritis, yucky teeth, declining hearing and sight and the night time howls. We had a cancer scare, and months of medications. Elderly cats can be fussy eaters, and hand preparing and delivering her meals to her heated bed was part of our routine. Even a few months ago, she still would play with a string and paper, and come to the window to watch the bird activity in the yard.
In the last month, her decline accelerated. We watched her eat less and get skinnier. The vet in me ran the requisite diagnostic tests, but there wasn’t an actual disease process at work that I could easily identify. Both Paul and I had decided that we would not pursue specialist referral. We would do our best to keep her comfortable at home with as much support as she would tolerate. As a pet owner, I go through the same process that each of you do when the time comes. The decision to euthanize an ailing pet doesn’t come easily. You need to be at peace with the decision, you need some time to prepare for the loss and the raw emotions. Once decided, I can ensure that the last moments are peaceful and pain free. That is the veterinary part.
Marty’s legacy is her more than her memorable voice. Her life has a good story to tell, and I’ll be forever referencing it when I see my geriatric patients, allowing me to share my experiences as an owner as well as a veterinarian.