Hug a Zephyr

Our cat Zephyr, whom I sometimes called “Zepha-lump” because she was rarely very active and she would lie in my arms as if she was a pacifist protester, turned into a complete lump today. We had her euthanized.

With Zeph, we had lots of good times. Sometimes she would run in her sleep, like dogs do. She survived a battle with what was probably a rabid raccoon. Mostly, she just hung about on the porch. For a long time, we thought her brother was the one who defecated on the side porch. After the brother died, though, the defecation continued. I think the fecal matter was Zeph’s, but there is some disagreement between us about that conclusion.

I find it hard to euthenize a pet. The balance between the decline in their quality of life and the desire to have them in one’s arms, to sustain their lives, to protect them, and on and on—it’s a difficult balance.

I’m not doubting the decision with Zeph, though. The Lump’s quality of life was pretty poor (she was incontinent, getting little nourishment from food, physically unable to get around, and not getting much oxygen by her breathing), and it was not going to get better. So we thought it was right to help her die quickly and painlessly. But we doubt our judgements, so we asked for advice.

Our 30-year-trusted veterinarian were careful about this, as they have been in the past. They checked her carefully (vitals, organs, etc.) before we answered our question, “Do you agree?” They did.

They were calm, professional, and considerate. After the team put in a catheter, they let me hold Zeph on my lap while they injected the barbiturate and pentobarbital (I think). She was gone quickly, in my subjective judgment. They checked her vitals again (no heart beat, no respiration) and then made sure the dose was stong enough that she wouldn’t suffer. They petted Zeph, spent time with her even after she was dead, and consoled us.

Zeph was another one of our many cats who was wondefully loyal to us. I’m happy to have shared 21+ years with Zeph. I’m glad to prevent additional suffering for her. I don’t want to make any more of this—no political statements…I’m too spent—than simply to celebrate that Zeph’s time, Pat’s and my time, and these kind vets’ time all happened at the same time.

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