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If cats could write living wills

February 16, 2015

A Kitty Living Will

I wrote this for our daughter 15 years ago when she was a freshman at College of William & Mary and her beloved cat, Boots, had already had one surgery for a malignant lump on her back; Michelle helped pay for one operation and we paid for the second, but beyond the money, I began to feel like too much treatment for animals bordered on inhumane and there comes a point at which you just have to let go … and I hoped this would help Michelle deal with her pain and grief.

If cats could speak (or write) for themselves, maybe they would say something like this. Michelle recently ran across this in her files and emailed it to me, sniffling some tears.

ShellyBootsMomBootsWithMom

Bottom left: Boots at birth with her mother Shelly. Upper right: Shelly with her litter of five kittens including Boots, admired by sisters Doreen and Tanya, right, and first cousins Cathy and baby Robin, left.

A Kitty Living Will

I, Boots, having just gone through a second major operation in three months, being of relatively sound body and slightly peeved mind, do hereby state that I do not wish to be subjected to any more such ordeals.

Everyone has been most kind; I’ve been handled lovingly, gently, cooed at, admired, praised for being so gentle. But that can’t make up for the fact that, as a cat, my very catness has been invaded.

I’ve been made to go to bed without any supper, made to stay inside against my will, even when I had to GO all because I had this stupid appointment at the veterinarian’s. Moreover I had to get up and not have any breakfast: you humans can be told what is going on, but all I could do was guess: okay, what’s up with this? Are they just being mean, or are they planning to sneak me off to the hospital again. It can’t be that, not again, so soon. I don’t ever want to go back to that place.

The indignity! Going to a place that serves … dogs! In the same place. I know I’m not supposed to be prejudiced, but come on, dogs? Our arch enemies?

Being put in a cage, like a wild animal? Oh sure, I hiss with the best of ‘em, but I am meek and gentle of heart. A genuine lap cat, even if I still like a little roaming and hunting now and then to keep me young.

At the hospital someone pokes me, sticks me, shaves me.

BootsPostOp

Well, soon after that, I don’t feel anything, but buddy when I wake up, it is hangover city, staggering around like someone who’s drank too much. (I think they drugged me.) I don’t feel too bad, just look like …. a cat out of you know where. Then I have to retch. The mortification!

Well at least I got to go home by evening this time and not stay overnight in that dark and smelly place in a cage while all the nice people go home. No one to tuck me in. No one to talk to, except other cats meowing madly and dogs yelping like wimps.

Even now I face a daily ordeal of swallowing pills morning and night, – count em! Why do they keep choking those things down my throat? And for what? Then I will have to go back to the doctor where he pinches and hurts me to remove my stitches.

No, a true cat, a real cat, just lives his or her nine lives as they come, none of this pussyfooting in and out of vet offices, getting poked, pilled, puked and “puffed” (to use Aunt Debbe’s term).

BootsSnack BootsOnLion BootsOnComputer BootsOnBooks

Therefore, as a true brave cat, who has been more loved than most cats in this world and better than I probably deserve, I do humbly request that you just let me be; if the growth comes back, I’ll just take my lumps and with a little bit of luck maybe it’ll just go into remission for awhile. Maybe my nine lives are about up. I don’t know.

I do know this: I’ve been a lucky lucky kitten to have you for my mistress all these wonderful years, far longer than anyone ever dreamed a cat could live at the Davis house. Remember how I broke that spell of bad luck, and taught every kitten after me the wonderful Art of Skillfully Dodging Cars While Fearlessly Hunting Mice Across the Road? Rats, that was fun! Remember how you used to dress me up like I was a living doll? Hey, I kind of like that name, living doll.

Oh, don’t get me started, I’ll have you crying, and you need to be at your best right now, going through your first major exams of your college career.

Speaking of which, don’t feel badly; we both knew this time was coming, when you would go off to college; but would I have traded all those years of being “most loved cat?” I think not.

BootsChristmasBoots and her special box of Kitten Chow she
received from Michelle every Christmas.

In fact, that fact of being “most loved cat” gets me through this tough time even now. Knowing you are happy (except when thinking about me) makes me feel very smug and perfect: I sure did a good job of raising you.

I do not delude myself. After all, I am a cat. I’m quite happy with what I am, and that means cats stay home and girls go to college. And since I am a cat, please, please don’t worry too much about not doing all you can for me in my sickness. After all, they shoot horses, don’t they, not to coin a phrase. And don’t cry, except for tears of joy, maybe, because you have made me probably the happiest cat in the world!

Or maybe go ahead and have a good cry, it seems to be what humans do. You will feel better then. Just don’t worry. I’ll be just fine, whatever happens. –“Hakuna ma ta ta.

Your loving cat,
Boots, “Bootie,” whatever.

MichelleBootsedited

Boots and Michelle after Boots’ first surgery.

***

I’m sure there are situations under which others are compelled to make different choices regarding invasive procedures for much-loved pets, but this is what felt proper for us and Boots. Two years ago we faced similar dilemmas with our beloved dog, Fable.

***

Dedicated to dear Dr. Kathy, an A+ veterinarian at Waterway Animal Hospital,
who would be ours if she didn’t live in another state.

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From → Family Life, Nature

2 Comments
  1. Our son’s dog Teddy was bitten by bees from their home hive. To save the dog’s life, the family spent an exorbitant amount – thousands of dollars. The dog’s life was saved, but there is still a big whole in their family’s finances even though many family members helped out with the vet bill.

    That’s what happens with strong attachments to pets, I suppose. Either way, it’s a quandary.

  2. It can be a quandary for sure. Most pet owners feel the basic pet expenses are worth it (but I know you’re not a pet owner). I feel for your son’s family. My niece’s family adopted a dog to help with their daughter’s physical symptoms–and the dog has had to have two major surgeries and she’s a very young pup at this point. But when it is also connected to your daughter’s health–wow, it gets very difficult. Thanks for commenting, Marian.

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