By | June 14, 2018
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I buried my little friend two weeks ago yesterday. I put her in the ground on a warm and sunny day in May.

Back in late January, of this year, she was diagnosed with an inoperable cancerous tumor in her ear canal and from that day on I knew she was doomed. The doctor said first it would affect her balance and she’d have trouble walking – and then she would die.

But I never gave up. She never gave up. Neither of us ever gave in. She only weighed six-and-a-half pounds when all this started. A very small creature with a very big heart – and very big eyes.

The first thing I notice at the beginning of her decline was that it hurt her to eat solid food, not because of her teeth but because of the location of the tumor. I had to be resourceful if I wanted to keep her alive. So when I bought food for her I looked for the softest food available – the canned pate’ looked like it would be the solution. It was for a few weeks, but then she had trouble eating it and that’s when I discovered the “bisque” treats. But these were treats not meals. I had to find something else. Something that would sustain her and give her some variety in her meals.

That’s when I discovered baby food. It had been decades since I shopped the baby food isle. The last time I did it. Gerber was just about the only brand around- there may have been others, but for the life of me I can’t recall the brands. Back then, baby food, other than the cereals that came in boxes, came only in small glass jars with metal lids.

I was shocked then when I first started shopping for baby food for her. The baby food business has changed drastically in the last 40 years. Gerber is still around, but there so many more choices. There are not only small glass jars now, but a cornucopia of plastic containers and squeeze pouches and hundreds of flavors and flavor combination.

I was determined to find something she could eat, something without a bunch of additives and something that would noursish her. But, what would she eat? What kind of baby food should I buy?

I had no way of knowing what she might eat, so I tried turkey with rice, beef with vegetables, chicken with rice and just plain turkey and chicken. It was the same kind of baby food that you’d for infants who were, for the fist time, exploring the pleasures of “solid” foods. However, using the word “solid” to described these pureed combinations may be a bit of hyperbole.

I let her try each and to my surprise she liked the chicken with rice, beef with vegetables, and turkey with rice the best. She wasn’t too keen on the plain turkey or chicken. Maybe becuase it was pulverized into a goopy morass.

I was so happy that I found something she would and could eat and something that would sustain her. I started mixing it with canned pate’ and stirring a little and “half-and-half” (half cream and half milk) into the mixture to add calories.

Always on the lookout for new flavors to encourage her to eat, one day, while shopping at Aldi (a discount grocery store) I found pouches of babyfood. They had some interesting flavors including peas and white turkey and chicken with sweet potatoes. Not that I ever thought she’d eat them, but I bought one of each. She liked the chicken with sweet potatoes, but she loved the peas and turkey maybe the best of all the flavors. So you can bet I stocked up on that.

After a couple of months of this, she seemed to be holding her own. She’d hide a lot during the day, but in the evening she’d come and spend time with me. She loved to sit on my lap while I petted her head and loved her.

Then one day, near the beginnig of April, she came out into the kitchen to get her breakfast and she fell over on the floor with a thump. She got back up, but she was not steady on her feet. It was a sad day when I realize that she was at the beginning of the end.

She learned to live with her balance problems. When she’d eat her back legs were spread to help maintain her balance. And although she had trouble climbing, she still tried -but she did so gingerly. It was getting down off chairs and desks that caused her the most problems – sometimes she’d fall and I hear her hitting the floor.

But she fought on. I kept feeding her the baby food mixture, but as time went by she ate less and less. She was having a hard time keeping herself clean and sometimes she’d have “accidents” when going to the bathroom. But she never gave up. And I just kept on loving her, knowing that she didn’t have much time left. By then, she was down to just five pounds – she looked so thin and frail.

I struggled with putting her to sleep – or having her “put down” a term I dislike. I knew it was coming, but I hoped endlessly that this loving little animal would die peacefully in her sleep.

I wondered how I’d know when “that time” came. A friend told me “Don’t worry, you’ll know”. How would I know? What am I looking for.

The time came and I knew it was time.

Wednesday morning, May 30, 2018, she came staggering into the kitchen. I noticed how thin and frail she’d become and my heart was heavy with sadness when I looked at her. I tried to give her breakfast, but she couldn’t swallow it. She couldn’t even swallow the water I gave her.

It was a warm, sunny, late-spring day, so I let her go outside. She was an indoor cat but she loved her outdoor excursions and she never left the yard. But on this day, she went in the next door neighbor’s yard and she lay down right next to their house. I looked at her and went and picked her up and put her back in my yard in the chair she used to love to sit in and watch the world go ’round and ’round.

I went inside and I called the vet and made the appointment I never ever wanted to make. A few hours later, I put her in the car. Usually she hated to get in the car and I have to put her in her carrier, but this day, she didn’t protest. She was so sick.

A few minutes later, while I petted her head and talked to her, the vet gave her an injection. My little friend opened her mouth and with her eyes wide open she left this crazy world behind.

The vet gave me a little cardboard “coffin” and I lined the bottom of it with a soft, clean towel. I took the little coffin with my buddy inside and buried her in my backyard.

No one expected her to live as long as she did. In January, the cancer was pretty far advanced. But I was not going to let her go without a fight, and she was not going to say goodbye without a fight. And in the end, I really think she was living on love.

I’ll never forget her last day on Earth with me. But more than that I’ll remember the wonderful and happy life and family I gave her. Millie was the most loving and amazing cat I’ve ever seen.And a loyal and loving friend and companion. She will be dearly missed.

Every day since I buried my little friend, I’ve gone out to her grave just to remind how much I miss her. But somehow I think she already knows.

Millie… this is for you.

24 thoughts on “Millie

  1. Roz Klaiman

    My sincere condolences. It is so hard to lose a beloved pet. I lost my cat Fluffy a little over 4 years ago and it was devastating. Because of age and Illness (mine) I knew I could not own again so I decided to foster, best thing I did although I always want to foster fail but know I can’t. I wish you well.

  2. Joyce

    So sorry for the loss of your fur baby it is hard losing a pet they are so loving and kind. They bring a lot of comfort to people too.

  3. Nora

    I know how you feel. I buried my little feline friend in a box wrapped in one of my sweaters under a bush in front of my dining room window where he used to like to watch the birds come to the feeder. My sincerest condolences. Millie is now waiting at the “Rainbow Bridge” .

  4. Diane

    My heart goes out to you. We never get over our sweet pals and the love they brought us. ♥

  5. Roberta Lykins

    So very sorry. May you find comfort and peace.
    RIP Millie.

  6. Jennifer Akridge

    My heart aches for you. Anyone, including me, who has lost a beloved pet, know the depth of your grief. Get another wee one…they will warm you heart but never take the place of the pet you lost. Rest assured, they will create a new place in your heart. I know, I have been there.

  7. Brenda Rion

    My deepest condolences. I’ve walked that path more than once myself.
    You have created an excellent memorial to her with your words. The bond the two of you shared comes through in every sentence. She will be waiting for you at the Rainbow Bridge for sure.

  8. Damie Simons

    I am so sorry for your loss. Millie was so blessed to have you for her dad cause that is what you are. I miss my Callie, I was so blessed to have her for 15 years. I would buy baby food for her also when she wouldn’t eat and then the day came when I knew it was time as she too would lose her balance. I have two 7 year old babies now. Miss Libby, a tiger cat and Miss Pun’kin, an orange tabby. Libby adopted me and Pun’kin ‘s Mama brought her to see me. After she got used to me, Mama left and then there were 2! They are house cats and each one has to get in my lap for my daily loving. Callie still holds a special place in my heart but there’s room for my other babies too. I hope you will go to your local animal shelter and find that bundle of joy that is waiting for you

  9. Maureen Potts

    I had to put my cat down last month. She got sick in January. I had to try different foods to get her to eat, but soon she stopped eating. Then one day she started having trouble walking. Then I decided to have her put down. She was such a loving, and smart cat. So I understand what you went through.

  10. Sherry

    There is nothing in this world like the love of a pet. Giving love back is the best payment. My hope is that when I die, all the “Fur Babies” I’ve know will be there to meet me and that I will be allowed to live eternity with them.

  11. katherine mcanulty

    It is never easy. To lose a furry family member.
    Your tribute to her is awesome
    Keep your memories in your heart and she will live forever

  12. Maria F. Ware

    I am so sorry for your loss. I know it hurts more than can be put into words.

  13. Leslie

    I am so very sorry for your loss. You gave Millie much love and that let her last as long as she did. Blessings to you both.

  14. Linda Brunetto

    I am so sorry. It is so sad to lose your fur baby, best friend, companion. Millie was very lucky to have you, you sure did everything you could have for her. That is just pure love.

  15. mrs. madeline e. ross

    you did the best as much as you could for her….I am sure she knew it……..some people do not understand the love you can have for an animal….I love my sassy….I would be devastated if I lose her……she is just 4 years old and I have had her since she was 7 months…she is my constant shadow……… sympathy to you on your loss of millie…

  16. Sue

    ??As the song hurts but it is worth it…all these moments and more: wonderful funny. odd, relaxing…yes to the Rainbow Bridge. I;ve had to visit more than once but never regretted the time I had with my extended family…truly understand. Your “Celebration of Life” for Milie was wonderful.

  17. Colleen McAllister

    Oh, I am so sorry. They can be strong fighters. We lost one of our sweet cats a few months ago. Miss Marple was the sweetest, most loving cat I had ever had. We took her as a foster when a dear friend moved to a place that would not allow pets. After taking her to the vet to find out why she had lost weight, and now wasn’t eating we brought her home to sleep off the shot they’d given her. We drove her real,mom home only to return to find Marple dead. Most horrible moment ever. MUCH LOVE

  18. Pearl Nemeth

    Having experienced the same with a kitty we had for 21 years who had lived longer with us than either of our kids, I know what a heart breaker it is to lose a pet. My condolences to you!

  19. Alison

    I am so sorry. I have had to do the same thing for more than I care to think about. :'(

  20. Wendy

    I guessed what your essay was about and decided to read. My eyes filled with tears at the end as I have a wonderful rescued cat. I couldn’t imagine life without her as she came into my life so unexpectedly 4 years ago. Sympathies – I know how sad you must be.

  21. Susan Kazimerczak

    I am terribly sorry for your loss.
    Your tribute to Millie was very touching.
    I was in tears by the end as I have experienced a piece of my heart break when we have lost one of our furbaies.
    Thank you so much for sharing….I no longer feel alone with my heartbreak

  22. Maxine Hunt

    As the saying goes: “Happiness is being loved by an old dog”. I am sure the phrase includes old cats (or young, sick ones). I feel your pain and your desperation in trying to get your baby to eat. Went through that in January. Finally, my poor sheltie, ‘Jimmy’, could eat no more and it was ‘time to make the call’. The loneliness was unbearable after that and I cried without shame in many public places at the thought of my beloved dogs who had left-three within three years. “No more”, I vowed, because the inevitable pain at the end of their life cycle was too unbearable.
    Then, in the middle of March I began to give in to the loneliness and started looking randomly online at pets who needed a good home. In the clutch of a spontaneous moment I went to see a litter of border collie puppies at a rescue site. No way I was leaving without one, and I didn’t, against my better judgment. The next two months were hellish-border collies never get tired and they never understand why you are. I wanted to take this dog back at least once a week but couldn’t because his future would be uncertain. This dog has had the longest puppyhood in history, providing a never-ending excuse for bad behavior. Now, at just under eight months of age I realize he has saved me, not the other way around. I would still be crying in front of my computer looking at pictures of my deceased friends had it not been for ‘Jack’. He forced me out of the house and out of my misery into his wonderful and joyous world of excitement. I know it is too soon for you to consider another friend, but one of these days you may give in to the loneliness and start slowly to look at what’s out there that needs you as much as you need him or her. Today I am madly in love with Jack. He obviously adores us and has given in to the rules of the house. Each night he sleeps right next to my bed. Your beloved pet is suffering no more because of your kindness in ‘making the call’. My favorite quote in this regard is this: “To end a pet’s suffering you have to accept your own”, Moira Allen.


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