Losing a Family Member

2 minute read

Losing a family member

Felix, the cat

We said goodbye to our cat, Felix.

I tell myself it was for the best. It was a fairly clearcut situation. A large mass in his chest was causing all sorts of problems for him. The vet suggested some medication but also warned that, if there was no improvement, he was an old cat and it might be his time.

It’s probably a vet nudge. Allowing the owners to reach their own conclusion and say their goodbyes.

And it was the conclusion we reached. He was tired, a short walk from the living room to the garden would see him having a few rests along the way. His breathing did not improve, and he barely ate for his last few days. Instead, he spent his time in his favourite places, receiving a little more attention than usual.

The whole family were there to say goodbye. I was guiltily aware I was taking him to his death. So, although he slipped away easily while being showered with love, it still felt hard. Peacefully brutal. Or brutally peaceful.

I have often wondered why people write posts like this. Perhaps because I have never really experienced pet loss, largely because those that happened in my family were either when I was too young to understand, or after I had left home.

Now I know. They have lost a family member. A friend. A confidante. Someone who added to the love in their house. A creature that was, instinctively, there when needed. And while we have rituals to share our loss when we lose humans, we do not for our pets, and the internet offers an alternative. I don’t really care that no-one will read this, but I want to put it out there nonetheless.

We are lucky that Felix found us. Or found my mother-in-law. He made a temporary home in her garden when his original owners were callous enough to drive 50 kilometres to dump him, but not clever enough to remember he had been microchipped. When contacted and obliged to admit he was there because they no longer wanted him, it created the opportunity for us to adopt him.

He came with a broken tooth that needed removing, leaving him with an Elvis-like snarl. But despite that dismissive look, he liked to be with people, even my daughter for whom he sometimes became a substitute doll, happy to be dressed up and perambulated in toy-strollers.

He loved standing guard over the garden, but lacked the motivation to actually chase anything off. He was a lacklustre mouser, and even usually reliable cat toys, from simple string to laser pointers, were usually met with disinterest.

Really, his favourite pastime was sitting in the seat you wanted to use. That was when he could move like lightning, grabbing a seat you had momentarily vacated.

He was a friend and a member of the family. And despite my pretence at being a grumpy dog-person, he turned me into a cat-person. There is a big hole in the house, and I cannot imagine ever not missing him.