Quality Time

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    Our cat is dying. She has diabetes and we’ve chosen not to treat it. Everyone has an opinion about this.

    Ours is this. We love her.

    She has huge white paws. She is polydactyl, which means, she has extra toes. She doesn’t mind if you play with her thumbs. It is like holding hands.

    Sudden moves and noises have always freaked her out though. She likes to know what to expect. We often apologize for startling her. That seems to reassure her. She refuses to go back outside where we found her. Too much wind, too many bug noises, too far from the door.

    She gained lots of weight. She mostly enjoys lying on her back with her big paws in the air. Once in a while she’ll pull magnets off the fridge.

    She does a little roll call each night once we are all in bed. She’ll meow for a full minute at the top of the stairs as if asking if the doors are all locked. I’ll miss that tuck-in ritual.

    She used to sleep with me every night. She stopped doing that when we got the diagnosis from the vet. It makes me sad that she sleeps elsewhere now, but I understand. I think she is starting to pull away.

    She is losing weight quickly. She used to dip her paw into her water bowl and lick off the drink. These days she laps up water obsessively. The litter turns to concrete.

    I hope I’ll know when it is time. Our children need more time to get used to the idea of her leaving us. I need more time.

    I talk to her. I lay on the floor and we go forehead-to-forehead and talk. I tell her that I am sorry that this is happening.

    I don’t want her to be afraid. I don’t want her to hurt. I want her forgiveness for not taking measures to prolong her life. I want her to know we will always remember her.

    I go out of my way now to seek her out, to touch her, to listen to her purr, to smell her fur, and drink her in. I pick her up, carry her around, hold her to my heart and rock her as she purrs. I look for ways to make her happier. I get her cooler water, tastier food, a clean bowl, and a fresher box. I find that I am delighted to take care of her needs.

    I wasn’t always this earnest or reflective. We’ve lost other pets. They were all special.

    Our time together is sweeter – mostly because I am paying attention. She is teaching me to be here now. I’ll have to thank her for that.

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