The Scottish Saltire

The Scottish Saltire

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My Heart Is Breaking

Almost 19 years....that's how long Lucy has been with me. Through all the changes in my life over the last two decades this furry little creature has been my constant companion. She has lived in 9 different homes with me and has traveled across the ocean from Germany to Arizona, across the U.S. from Arizona to Pennsylvania, and back across the ocean to within a couple of hours of where she was born. In preparation for our Journey to the Highlands Lucy has been vaccinated, microchipped and blood tested for entry to the UK. My motto has always been "Where I go, so goes the bitty."

But the time has come to say good-bye. Lucy is mostly deaf these days and her sight is also failing. She weighs next to nothing. It's hard to find a place to pet that isn't just skin and bones. She has lost a great deal of strength in her limbs and she hasn't been able to jump up on the couch for several months now. Often she'll be standing in one place and one, sometimes two, of her legs will just start sliding away from her. She has also stopped any kind of feline grooming. I have to wash her face for her after she eats. It's like she doesn't even realize that her nose, chin and whiskers are all covered with kitty food.
I've had to put puppy pee pads in front of her litter box for a long time now. She uses the box just fine when she has to poop but she can't seem to get her butt all the way in when she only needs to pee. So I change pee pads several times a day. Over the last week or so she doesn't even try to get in the box to pee. She just squats in the general vicinity. The area of pee pads has become about 3 feet by 3 feet with heavy plastic underneath. I could go on describing all the other signs of deterioration but you get the picture. I just don't think she has the strength or stamina for what is to come over the next couple of months and I don't think it would be fair to expect her to endure it all just because I can't bring myself to let go.

When Lucy was diagnosed with diabetes in 2000 I was sure that the diabetes would take her from me before she reached old age. I gave her her first insulin injection on my 43rd birthday (and her 10th birthday). My birthday wish that year and every year since then has been for her good health. Notwithstanding a few bumps along the way she has done very well. So her diabetes, in the end, is not the culprit. It is simply old age.

I have spent 19 years giving her the best care that I possibly can and she has given me that same number of years of unconditional love in return. A lot of people say that cats aren't as affectionate as dogs. Those of you who have known Lucy know that she somehow didn't get that memo. Her sole objective in life has always been, not just to be held, but to be snuggled. It has long been a family joke that " the bitty", as we call her, is downright demented when it comes to needing affection. Most cats don't like to be held tightly or feel like they are being restrained. Then there is Lucy! This is a kitty who was never happy to just sit on my lap. She wanted to be cuddled and would actually put her little 'arms' on either side of my neck and press her face to mine in an effort to get closer. She would let me kiss her eyes and her nose and her cheeks without pulling away. She even rubbed noses with me. I would touch my nose to hers and rub a little bit. Then she would start rubbing back and forth and up and down until I was giggling too much for her to continue. She spent her days in a constant effort to get me to pick her up. I've often joked that Lucy would be happiest if I just put her in a snuggly and carried her around all day.

I use the past tense to describe Lucy's personality because she doesn't do these things anymore. Now when I sit on the couch and hold her on my chest I have to help her position her legs. It's difficult for her to get comfortable. She doesn't tuck her face into mine anymore and she seems to have some tender spots when I stroke her. She hasn't even slept in the bed with me in about 6 months. We used to go to sleep together, with her under the covers and cuddled in my arms. Now she sleeps on the floor.

As is always the case with old age, all of this has crept up on us a little at a time, but the cumulative effect of all of these changes is that my sweet girl has gotten very old and is now just existing from day to day. So I have come, with great difficulty and much sadness, to the decision that it is time to let her go. I called her vet this morning and made an appointment for Friday afternoon. Nikki and Bert are going with us for morale support but in the end it will be just Lucy and me. I'll hold her and stay with her til the end.

I just can't imagine what next week and next month and next year will be like without the bitty. My heart is breaking..........

1 comment:

Steven said...


This made me tear up a little bit. Olivia's very very young, but any time I think of that eventuality, it breaks my heart too. I don't know what I'd do without her. In short, I understand just how hard this is. Take solace in the fact that you have been the best pet parent Lucy could've asked for, and that she has lived a full and interesting life thanks to you. Good luck.