She hadn’t been herself for at least a month. I’d been watching her for signs of suffering or new complications, anything that would give me a definitive signal that it was time. I got the sign on Saturday night – as she turned a corner I saw bright red staining the white fur under her neck. Closer inspection revealed a ruptured cyst just like the one she had last summer. With her underlying illnesses, I knew that surgery was out of the question now. This was it.

Scott gave her to me on my 23rd birthday, just a few months after we married. She had been part of our family for over 13 years, and we have a book’s worth of stories about her antics. But the last year she has been deteriorating, and most of her antics had melted into advanced age and illness. I have been preparing to say farewell for months, and for the most part, I was ready. She was ready too.

I’m not sure anyone can be ready to actually hand a beloved pet over to the vet to be euthanized, however. It brought back all sorts of memories of losing Elli. My kids talked about their sister more in the last two days than in the last two months. Making a decision like this for our cat has also prompted a rush of disturbing questions about euthanasia in general. Why is it ok to end an animal’s suffering, but not a human’s? How do we navigate end-of-life care for family members? How much should cost play into decisions about care? How much should certainty, or lack thereof?

I don’t have any answers. I just know that I miss our cat,  I miss our daughter, and I’m glad neither is sick anymore.

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