The Ninth Life (Updated)

Posted on Tuesday 2 February 2010

Pounce seems to be resting quietly again.

Thank goodness.

I can’t bear the thought of him suffering.


It’s been a brutally fast decline.  Even though the vet told us that this type of cancer moves very quickly, I’m still shocked.

He’s only 11 years old.  I expected — looked forward to — many more years with him.

But in the last week, he’s started resting between bites of food, and more than once I’ve seen him lying down while drinking from his water bowl.  Rather than walking, he’s kind of staggered from place to place, as his strength has failed.

Right up until this morning, though, he seemed at least comfortable.  Yes, he’s been eating less and less (and losing weight dramatically), but he still loved to be petted and talked to, and his purr was strong and immediate.

Everything’s different this morning.

The vet opens at 7 am.

I don’t know if I can do this.

How will I get through it?

I know how.  I’ll call up the fabulous memories;  he’s given us so many over the years.

While they’re readying his merciful final sleep, I’ll pet him and visualize him in the arms of my toddler daughter.

He was just about the same size as she was, and when she put him into the toddler swing out back, he fit perfectly.  He’d just sit there in that swing, his face radiating tolerance (just barely) as she pushed him back and forth.

While I’m holding him, I’ll remind him about the bird he savaged right outside my office window one morning — while I was on a conference call.  He probably remembers that, since his feast was uninterrupted.  The best I could do was close the blinds so I couldn’t see.

Or I’ll apologize for the many feathered feasts I denied him — like the time the birds’ nest fell into the house from the chimney, releasing 5 or 6 potential meals into my bedroom.  (That was a crazy morning!!)

I’ll rub between his eyes and beside his face, just where he likes it, and I’ll remind myself that in these eleven years, he’s had a lot of near-misses.  Several times, the vets have barely saved him.

After each of these terrifying brushes with death — after he’d recovered and was back to being fat and sassy — I’d gratefully hold him and laugh about how he was now on his second life.  Or his third.  Or his fifth.

Not this time.  This was number nine.

As he slips away from his pain — and from us — I’ll tell him how much I love him.  I’ll thank him for being such a wonderful part of our family.  For tolerating the danged dog.  For always remembering to keep his claws in.  For keeping Adorable Child company in the night.

Nine lives aren’t nearly enough this morning.

I bet there's a bird out there someplace, waiting for me.

Update, 8:35 am:

Pounce died here at home this morning.

It turns out that he was resting more than comfortably.   He was resting permanently, and most likely slipped away even as I wrote this.  I’m so glad I was there with him at the end, even though I didn’t realize that’s what it was.  I know it gave him some comfort.

We’ll miss him.  I already miss him.

8 Comments for 'The Ninth Life (Updated)'

    Karen Holmes
    February 2, 2010 | 8:27 am

    Daryl, you brought tears to my eyes! It’s not easy saying goodbye to a pet. Thinking of you, Michaela and John!!!!


    February 2, 2010 | 8:41 am

    Thanks Karen. Yes, it’s very hard to say goodbye.

    February 2, 2010 | 9:41 am

    Stumbled across your blog…so sorry about the pain you’re going through. There are many people who do not understand the unique and almost spiritual connection we can have with our furry friends. I independently rescue many kittys that are thrown out car windows onto my property…to be dispose of, and have had to say goodbye to many of them. Just know that your baby had a special life, because they got to share it with you. That kind of love…for 11 beautiful years is a precious gift.
    I send you my prayers for comfort. Allow yourself to grieve without hesitation or explanation, then use those memories as a stepping stone to maybe do something in her honor…like donate some kitty toys to the local shelter in her name.
    Sanity Rose

    February 2, 2010 | 1:43 pm

    I was with my mother when she took her last cat to the vet for the final time – poor thing was blind and the kidneys had shut down (diabetes.) I actually got a photo of her holding the cat, which she kept with her pretty much to her dying day.

    At least you can take comfort from the fact that his suffering is over.


    February 2, 2010 | 3:54 pm

    sanityrose — I have no idea how you came across this blog, but your comment was a great comfort to me today. Thank you so very much.

    EdT, thank you. How wonderful that she was able to keep her last beloved cat close to her heart til her own end of life. And I do take comfort from knowing that he’s not suffering at all now.

    February 2, 2010 | 6:01 pm

    Nothing I can add, really, of any substance, other than to say for the gazillionth time that I love you very much and I’m glad you are allowing yourself to grieve publicly (albeit via your blog). Hugs.

    February 2, 2010 | 6:07 pm

    Trying this act again. See if this one works. :)

    Gary K
    February 19, 2010 | 9:24 pm

    I too just stumbled on this blog, and I have to say that was the most touching sendoff I’ve ever read. Although I never met Pounce, I feel as I do vicariously through my little old man, Bagheera. He’s been around for 22 yrs now (I actually helped his mother birth him) but is fading fast. I honestly don’t know what I’ll do when he’s gone. Every night he sleeps by my side, and each time I pray that when I awaken I’ll be I’m blessed with yet another day with him.

    I wanted to say, I think it would be the most beautiful gift to leave this world with those whom you love expressing their love for you so exquisitely. And because there is no feeling more comforting than to know you are loved, surely, if cats can smile, he had one then.

    best wishes, GK

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