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Monday, Nov. 17, 2008 7:01 AM

On Friday, we had to put Maggie, one of our cats, to sleep.

It wasn't anything we'd expected to have to do. Her appetite had been waning over the past couple of weeks, and she'd lost a pound or two, but otherwise seemed normal. So we took her in for a checkup; the vet ran a blood panel and told us there were indications of serious problem.

So, Friday afternoon, we took Maggie to a specialist in Concord, who ennumerated the possibilities - none of them pleasant, but some worse than others. It was decided we'd start with an ultrasound, which was inconclusive. The next step was exploratory surgery, which would take into the evening.

We went home.

The findings were grim. It was essentially a cancerous growth that had blocked Maggie's bile duct, affected her liver, pancreas, and was spreading to her intestines. It could be corrected with surgery, but that would bring a new set of complications without any meaningful extension of her life or its quality.

And so we made the decision to let her go. The rest of the weekend was a bit of a blur as I clamped a lid over everything and tried to carry on.

Last night, I bawled like a baby. The hard part was, having gotten to a point where I could pop the lid and let some of the grief out, I had to slap it back on and go to sleep so I could get up and come to work today.

I'd broached the idea of calling in sick, but - Welcome To Our New Economy - we've cut back so much that we can't accomodate more than one or two absences on any day, and we were already down four people. So, a fitful night's sleep, and here I am, not really giving a good goddamn about anything in the news.

Maggie came into our lives by chance; just under twelve years ago, we'd lost another cat to old age, and Jo was looking for a replacement. She stopped at the SFSPCA kiosk that was near her office, and found Max, our domestic shorthair.

When she came back to pick up Max later in the day, Maggie was in the cage next to Max. She'd recently been seperated from her own litter and was still lactating, and Max was only twelve weeks old, so the two of them hit it off right away, with Maggie becoming a surrogate mother to Max.

At first, Maggie was not thrilled with me. She would run from the room when I entered, and, having been sitting on the bed at one point, bolted and hid. Our guess is that she belonged to a woman, who brought a man into her life, and that person Didn't Like The Cat. (And, frankly, if your pet doesn't like your mate, they're telling you something.)

So the first order of business was to invite her back on the bed. Once she figured out I was different that that Other Guy, she quickly came to like me.

She would follow me went I went to bed, sitting on me and rubbing her whiskers against my beard as if to check up on the day's events. If I stayed up late, she'd come into my office (where I usually was putzing around on the computer) and give me The Look. If I overslept my alarm, she'd gently poke me.

She 'adopted' a number of stuffed toys and would move them around the house, alternately treating them like kittens or bringing them to us like presents. She'd clearly get up in the middle of the night and move them around; a toy that was in the living room might end up on the bed by morning, or vice-versa.

Last winter, when we had several bad cold snaps, she started burrowing under the covers to sleep next to me, as I radiate. (Max would often end up down by my legs for the same reason.)

Both Jo and I miss her more than words can express.

I'll probably not have much else to say this week.

The Ministry has received 1 comment(s) on this topic.

Brin aka Bindyree - 2008-11-19 08:18:35
I haz a sad.