Saturday, 16 April 2016
Grieving is an Empty Room and an Empty Day
This is Oscar, and on Monday I had him put down. Oscar was 21, and as people who know me will know, he has been a complete arse of a cat for the last 8 years.
Put something on the floor, and he'd piss on it. Shoes, bags, clothes, whatever. He was confined downstairs for that very reason - nothing was safe. In the last few years even putting things on a table was no guarantee - he managed to balance on top of a Vicar of Dibley box set to wee over my sister's Christmas present one year. And of course, there was the famous incident that really needed a cat-shaming photo:
But I've had him since he was a kitten. As my sister likes to point out, 'he lasted longer than your marriage.' He was like a beloved relative that becomes infirm - you don't just abandon them because they piss (and poo, towards the end) everywhere. Even if that means you end up with a litter tray in your living room, right next to the door. Nice.
His passing wasn't a shock - I'd been worried he wouldn't make it to Christmas, and had prepared Son for that fact. But he carried on, despite his thinness. Then last weekend I realised he was really poorly - his breathing was laboured and his paws were swollen. I was half minded to call the vet to put him down then, but Son really didn't want me to, so I didn't. Instead, we had one last weekend, where all he wanted to do was sit with me. This was not the usual Oscar - normally given the choice between me and Son, Son will win every time, because I'm the baddie who shouts at Oscar when he wees on the cooker (for example).
He couldn't jump up onto the sofa so I was having to lift him up. He couldn't support himself on his back legs when he was pooing, so he would lie in the litter tray and get a pooey arse that I tried to clean, but never quite managed.
On Sunday night, as I lay in bed, I heard him crying. So I spent the night with him. When I left the living room even to go to the loo, he would cry again.
Monday morning Son said goodbye to him. I took the day off work and called the vet. An hour before the vet arrived, he got off the sofa and drank and ate - up to then I'd been bringing him his water and food, so I wondered if he was somehow recovering. But when the vet arrived, she said no, he was a dying cat. His heart stopped before she finished the injection.
It was a lovely death really. I was stroking his head, the nurse was rubbing his chin, and he was purring. Then he was gone, bar a bit of twitching, which is apparently just the nervous system dying.
When they had taken him away, I just broke down. I had no idea I would feel that way - I was worse than when my Dad died.
And now, I just feel so empty all the time. The next day, I really felt like 'what's the point' when I woke up - even though I have a Son, and a great life.I could cry at any moment.
Every day is just one huge litany of reminders he is gone, from the minute I go into the living room (don't have to push the litter tray out of the way as I open the door) to last thing at night, when I don't have to feed him and drag the litter tray behind the door from the other side of it.
For the first time, I am alone at the weekend when Son goes to his Dad's. The weekends, that was when Oscar would sit with me. I would put the heating on for him, even though I didn't need it, because he was an old chap, and he felt the cold.
I woke up this morning to snow, and I began to rush down to tell Oscar - but of course, he isn't here. Although sometimes it feels like he is - I feel as though he is sitting next to me, or is waiting for his food.
When Dad died, I found I had a lot of extra time on my hands, because visiting him had taken up so much of my time for a year. With Oscar gone, so has the entire routine of my day, for the last 21 years. No body fluids to clean up, no food to put down, no one to chat to, no one to argue with (we often had our disagreements)
When he was twitching, after being put to sleep, the vet said, 'don't worry, it's just his body remembers what to do and it's going through the motions. It happens a lot with old cats especially, their bodies have so much memory.' I feel like that - he was here for so long that even now I still expect to go through the motions of caring for him daily. The grief feels so raw because there are constant reminders that those actions are pointless now.
I feel like I'm being an idiot because he was 'just a cat'. But he really wasn't. He was my Baby Cat, a constant companion, the only 'person' I would talk to for days at a time, sometimes. He was always there. Without me realising it he had become an intrinsic part of my routine and my life - and my life feels as empty as his chair now he is gone.
RIP Oscar Cat. You git.