Amanda and I have long known that our fur baby Oden would not outlive us, and in 2020 we began to acknowledge that he probably had only months left, no longer years. The ultimate timing or cause was unclear, but his trajectory was visibly downwards — his weight was dropping, his arthritis was worsening, his bathing was becoming less regular, his energy level was declining, and his senility was progressing. In essence, was looking and acting like you’d expect of a 17 year-old cat.
In the meantime, Amanda and I committed to making everyday his best day, lavishing him with lap-time, sunbathing, heated corn bags, premium food and treats, and neighborhood walks. In at least one respect, the pandemic was fortuitous — with Amanda working from home, he’s had two full-time caretakers, or at least one during the weeks when I was away on trips.
In return, Oden continued to give us unconditional love, adorable company, and a tireless post-long run napping buddy.
The first red flags appeared in June, when a blood draw by our home-visit veterinarian revealed elevated white blood cells. Then in October he had a mild seizure. And two days ago he came down with an apparent UTI, which in older cats is often secondary to a less treatable underlying issue. In these two recent cases, he’s had to be taken to a clinic, which is wickedly stressful for him and which we’ve resolved not to do again.
Euthanasia will be a dignified and respectful conclusion for him, but it’s tearing Amanda and me up, literally and figuratively. He’s been Amanda’s lone child since he was two-hands size, and mine for a decade, and we’d both relish several more months with him.
But is that also in Oden’s best interests? Most days, probably yes — including right now, as he sleeps soundly on dryer-warmed blankets while Amanda works feet away, and later today when he’ll likely migrate to the fireplace. But what about the day or days when it’s not, when our selfishness results in unnecessary pain — or worse, being put down at a clinic while we bawl outside, denied from entering the facility because of Covid.
I expect the next week or two will alternate between sorrow and joy, knowing that his time has arrived but that he’s living and has lived his best life. Please do me a favor by keeping him in your thoughts and giving your own fur child an extra long squeeze.