On Becoming a Grownup

It’s funny to me how I mark the signs of my adulthood. Some of the things that have made me feel very grown-up in the past are obvious: managing my own money and purchasing a house, for instance.

But what about the other things, the less obvious ones? Getting up for an early morning run because it’s the right thing to do. Spending 1% of your income on charity. Becoming emotionally attached to your best friend’s baby. Washing your grandmother’s bedclothes while she recovers from a bout of stomach flu. All those things that were never on my radar when I was younger, but are responsibilities I’ve taken on as part of my adulthood.

Today, I think I did the most grown-up thing I’ve ever done. I took my mom’s cat, Molly, into the vet to have her euthanized. Molly has been sick for some time. She had a tumor, along with her ear canal, removed last year. More recently, she had a cancerous tumor removed from the area near her ear, and most recently she had her left eye removed. She was quite a handsome kitty, she even looked cute with her eye missing!

After all that money out of mom’s pocket and pain and energy on Molly’s part, she was doing pretty well. She was getting around OK with her limited vision and still wanted love and affection and turkey (her favorite). Unfortunately, she had a little stroke about 2 weeks ago and had been going downhill ever since then. She seemed to have lost the use of the left side of her body. She was pitiful to watch.

Mom and Gene couldn’t take it anymore, and really felt like her quality of life was in the pits. I spent time talking with both of them, and providing input from the vet and Tracey, our cat sitter. They decided they didn’t want her (or themselves) to suffer any more. I felt like it was my duty to take Molly into the vet. I didn’t think they could do it, and I thought the only thing I could offer them beside condolences would be this act of kindness. As I type this, my felineforeverfriend Cayce is on the desk next to me, gently squeezing his eyes open and shut and breathing in and out. I hope he keeps on breathing in and out. I expect him to be around for another 5 years or so. I don’t know what I’d do without him and I don’t know if I could take him in to be put down. Maybe one day, not at all in the near future, Mom can repay the favor for me.

So I made an appointment this morning and took her in at 2. Mom said goodbye before she left for the airport this morning, and Gene said goodbye when I picked her up this afternoon. Everyone in the vet’s office came in to pet her and say goodbye as well; it seemed she was a favorite there because of her sweet, gentle personality and her ultrasoft fur. Everyone was crying, even the girl at the front desk that I didn’t know.

They gave her a shot to make her sleep and left me with her for a few minutes. I used that time to kiss her whitewhite belly as much as I could. She laid her head down on my wrist and sighed a few times. They came in about 5 minutes later and then gave her a shot of something to stop her heart (“overdose of euthanasia” is what they called it). You could tell when the shot took effect because everything that makes a kitty a kitty just… disappeared.

There were physical changes. Her inner eyelid relaxed and half-closed. Her tongue, in mid-lick, stuck out of her mouth cutely. Her chest no longer rose and fell. But the spark of life was so obviously gone, in a way that was different from all these other signs, that you couldn’t feel too sad anymore. She’s up in kitty heaven with Pookie and Corky and Floyd and all the other cats who have passed over the Rainbow Bridge.

They wrapped her up in a towel and took her in the back. I cleaned up my face and came home. We’ll get her ashes in a few days, and Mom can scatter them where she will.

Here are some pictures of Molly, one of the sweetest, gentlest cats you ever knew.

Mom playing the ever-entertaining “bunny ears” impression game. Molly’s back legs were so long she resembled a jackrabbit, so this look isn’t too far off base. It was not one of Molly’s favorite games, though. 🙂

Here’s me trying to convince Molly that it’s OK to be held and cuddled. She remained unconvinced.

Molly taking a nap, curled up into a little ball of warm soft fuzzy. Or maybe she’s hiding from the Paparazzi.

  1. <![CDATA[Ele]]>’s avatar

    You’re right – this was pretty sad! I’m so sorry, but also obvious that you all did what was best for her. I have found myself hoping lately that I never have to take my dog in. I think I would much rather him just go nice & easy & unexpected at home. If I had a say anyway. I’m sure your family will miss her very much! It seems like she had a very nice life.

  2. <![CDATA[Tracey P]]>’s avatar

    I liked this ‘tribute’ to Molly. It made me sad to read it but I know Molly is in a good place now. I am very proud of you for your courage and strength to do this for your mom. I am sure it meant a lot to her.