This weekend, my partner and fiancée Cassie and I had to make the difficult decision to release our cat, Snowy, from the pain and discomfort she was suffering. We lost a member of our family, but we also helped her escape from a more painful life.
Late Friday night, Snowy became distressed and was laboring to breathe. When we took her into the emergency vet, we found out that her lungs were only half functioning. For many years, she carried feline leukemia without symptoms, but recently, masses had grown inside her lungs. The vet told us that there were no good options, and that she would suffer difficulty breathing and probably suffocate slowly.
Almost nine years ago, Cassie saved Snowy’s life by taking her in. The little white cat lived with her brothers and sisters on a farm in Iowa, but the owners found out that Snowy had leukemia. They were going to euthanize Snowy, but Cassie took her instead. Since then, Snowy was a constant companion.
When I met Cassie, I quickly learned that Snowy was an important part of her life. And just as quickly, Snowy became an important part of my life.
Our little cat was the sweetest, cutest, most loving cat that I’ve ever known. She was older, but she looked young and loved to wrestle. She never meowed loudly. Instead, she made little “murr” noises. If I put my hand on her while she slept, she would murr without waking or moving, as if to recognize my presence without being disturbed from her nap.
She was never bossy, pushy, aggressive, or moody. If she wanted food, she would simply follow you into the kitchen, sit by her bowl, and murr when you looked at her. Once she learned where milk was kept, she’d occasionally poke her head into the fridge to see if she could find it.
One of her favorite poses was the “dragon crouch.” With her short tail straight out behind her, she would crouch with her shoulder blades in the air, neck extended, staring. It didn’t look comfortable, but she liked it.
If we stopped moving long enough, we would find a cat suddenly in our lap. Sometimes playful nibbles turned into wrestling matches or slobbery lickings. Eventually, she had only one fang, but she would gum our fingers anyway.
In the few years that I knew Snowy, I never once thought that she was anything but sweet and cute. So for a while, we will be sad that our little dragon-cat isn’t here to greet us with a murr. But she lived nine years past the day when the vet said she was sick. She loved us and we loved her. We made each others’ lives better. And in the end, we helped her end her battle with dignity. She deserved that much. She was a good cat.