Friday, October 13, 2006
Eulogy for T.C.
I knew it was coming, I just didn’t expect it to be today. This morning our twelve-year-old Maine Coon cat, TC, was barely conscious and couldn’t stand. The kids had already left for school when I found him. I bundled him into his carrier and hustled him to the veterinary emergency room. Unfortunately, there really wasn’t anything to do. I stroked his fur and gave my permission for him to be euthanized.
TC found us ten years ago when we lived in Ohio. He was a very friendly stray who arrived on our front door looking like he had been on his own for a while. He had a bald patch on his back and his ribs were easily felt. My oldest promptly became his best friend when he opened a can of tuna. We searched in vain for an owner to claim him. Let me say Catholic Dad was not excited about having a pet cat. He was adamant that we not name this cat thinking the lack of a name would prevent us from getting attached. Thus the cat became The Cat or T.C. for short. He also became ours. He soon grew to be a very fat and happy cat.
He moved from Ohio to Florida and then to Virginia. I think he was happiest in Florida. He was so content to sleep in the Florida sun amid my potted plants on the deck. Typical of Maine Coon cats, he loved to be with people but was not a lap cat. He just sat in the middle of any gathering of people. When the children were at school he would follow me from room to room. If the kids were outside playing soccer, he wanted to be outside as well. Usually he picked a spot right in the middle of their playing field to situate his rotund self. He would watch calmly as the soccer ball whizzed overhead or grazed his whiskers. He used to trot to the end of the driveway to meet the school bus when they came home. He loved to have his chin scratched. Any attention from us would set him to loudly purring.
In the last couple of years I knew something was changing. He became very vocal and demanding instead of laconic and passive. His portly build winnowed from 11 pounds to around 8 lbs. Our feline friend had developed hyperthyroidism and then kidney disease. I gave him his thyroid medicine and bought special cat food for his kidneys but he continued to languish. Arthritis took its toll and it was a chore for him to get out of his bed. He didn’t follow me very much anymore and he really didn’t purr much.
The last couple of weeks he didn’t want to eat his dry cat food. I tried the canned prescription food and he ate well for a little while. Then yesterday he didn’t want to eat at all. I thought he might have a dental problem so I was planning on taking him to the vet today. Then I found him. The vet was very compassionate. She didn’t push me to do expensive diagnostics or elaborate interventions. This was not an acute process. It was the end stage of a long chronic illness. It was time to let go.
T.C. has been a treasured part of our family experience. He was not accorded the dignity of being human, but he was accorded the dignity of being part of God’s creation. We cared for him when he was young and healthy and when he was old and sick. We laughed at his antics and grieved as he weakened. We will say a special prayer this evening. We will not pray for T.C. since he does not have a soul as we do. We will thank God for sharing this lovely creature with us and continue to marvel at the wonders of His creation.