Just a couple of hours ago we put my dear kitty, Chaucer, to sleep. Surprisingly, I'm more at peace with the decision than I had ever thought that I would be.
I adopted Chaucer from the Humane League of Lancaster County in November 1998. She was an adult cat, they guestimated between 1-2 years old, and was a day away from being euthanized. A beautiful calico with the sweetest meow (more like a 'coo') - that's what attracted me to her. So, I left that day, without the cute little kitten I had planned, but with the sweetest adult cat I had ever encountered. This would not last for long!
I was in college at the time, enthralled with medieval literature, so her name came easily. I even planned on one day adding a sister or sisters that I would name Bronte and Austin (yes, I was that lame!). The moment I got Chaucer home, she ran and hid. In fact, she would eventually try to escape several times in those first few weeks, and would remain aloof and hidden for almost the first year I had her. I was heartbroken.
Over the years, Chaucer was my study partner, my distraction, she would make many moves with me and was my constant travel companion. Nicknamed "Toonces," Chaucer endured the long drive for the move down to Florida, and the long drive back up to Erie for graduate school. She traveled well, and even helped lower a speeding ticket for me because of HER good looks (and not mine)!
Simply put, Chaucer and I became the best of friends and she became the most loyal and unique cat I've ever known or had. She came when I called her and always greeted me when I came in the door. She was an alpha cat with more attitude than a diva :) When she first got sick in 2008, I was scared to take her to the vet. I did, and she was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, very common in cats. Chaucer was prescribed medication to regulate her thyroid and metabolism, and was on it twice a day.
I've had several friends whose cats' health took a turn shortly after the birth of their first child, and subsequently passed away or had to be put to sleep. It's as though these sweet kitties, our first 'kids', hung in there for us until we had our own children to love and care for. I prefer to believe that this was the case with my Chaucer. Her health began to go downhill from the day we brought Declan home. She began vomiting more frequently (than normal) and losing weight, and it was becoming more difficult to regulate her meds.
Last night Declan pet Chaucer for the first time and loved it, all smiles. This morning, Chaucer was exhibiting signs of kidney failure. I wasted no time in making the decision to put her to sleep before she began to suffer. She gave me so much joy (and attitude!), and was there for me during some of my most difficult moments, licking tears away, rubbing against me, or making me pet her head. I am at peace with my decision because she went with the dignity she carried during her lifetime. How wonderful she made my life while she was in it - I will miss you so, my Chaucer :)