This post is primarily about catharsis. I don’t know where it will wind up.
I had to make the most difficult, painful decision I have ever made today. I chose to put my cat of 5 years, Baby Puppy, to sleep.
She’s displayed increasingly aggressive behavior over the last 2 years or so, including a handful of all out attacks on me that have left me with physical scars and injuries. I’ve been sick with what was originally diagnosed as the chickenpox, but is more likely pneumonia for the past two days and have been at home. She attacked me twice last night, to the point where I had to lock myself in the bathroom multiple times to keep her from coming after me. I have wounds on my left hand and left leg, plus a swollen, bruised knuckles. These attacks were terrifying. I’m not talking about playing rough, I’m talking about ears back, screeching, yowling, I’m-going-to-claw-your-eyes-out psychotic behavior. The noises she made are positively bone-chilling. After the second attack, I took her to a 24 hour pet hospital, but she was so unruly and aggressive, they couldn’t even examine her. They told me to keep her confined to her kennel for the night and hopefully, she would be calm in the morning. They also suggested a pheramone spray to calm her down.
I was hopeful when I woke up this morning that she would be back to normal since she had been quiet all night. As soon as I turned the corner and she saw me, she started snarling and growling. For the rest of the morning, if she even caught sight of me, she went into attack mode and made those horrible noises. My nerves were shot. I was tiptoeing around my apartment trying to stay out of her sight. Her behavior was downright scary. I tried the pheramone to no avail. I called the vet back and really had run out of options – I couldn’t give her food or water because I couldn’t get near the cage. Giving her medication was completely out of the question given her state of mind. They didn’t think there was a medical cause underlying the aggression due to the onset and history. On top of that, even if they could calm her down, I was so traumatized by everything that I knew I would be in fear of her switching into attack mode at any given time without warning in the future. I didn’t feel that I could keep her, but didn’t think I could give her to anyone else knowing how aggressive she was. I had a choice to make, but I really felt like I didn’t have one…I decided to put her down.
I’ve pretty much been crying nonstop for the past 24 hours. I hate that my last images of her are of a snarling, violent cat and not the Baby Puppy that curled up with me on the couch and slept on the pillow next to my head each night. To make matters worse, she seemed more like her old self for a short while right before I saw her for the last time. It broke my heart. It is still breaking my heart. I question whether I did the right thing. I feel guilt for ending her life. The burden of bearing the responsibility for her death is overwhelming.
What this did make me realize is that there are certain choices you should agonize over – like this one. But there are plenty of other choices that are not worthy of such scrutiny – choices about whether to go to the gym or not, whether to get up or hit snooze, whether to eat this unhealthy thing or not, etc. Those should be no-brainers, but sometimes I treat them like life or death. Today, I did have to choose between life and death. And now I have to live with my irreversible decision.
The choices you make today determine who you are tomorrow. The choice I made today freed me (and my cat) from fear and distress, but it also robbed me of an important piece of my life forever. Even though I threw out or hid away all of her things when I got home, there are reminders of her everywhere. I can’t escape the blame for why she is gone.