It's been almost five years ago now that Shmoo and I bought our lovely house, Shmoolok Estates. The house came with quite a few features that sold us on it right away - a fenced in back yard, a room downstairs for a home office, a spacious master bedroom, a playroom for Ben, etc. After we moved in, we discovered that it also came with a rather unexpected feature: a stray cat living in the bushes in our front yard.
We already had two cats, and it wouldn't be long before we acquired first one and then two dogs. The last thing we needed was another cat. Still, here was this scrawny beat-up little wild thing living right by our front door and we didn't have the heart to either ignore her or to call animal control. For months, maybe even a year, she lived outside. We started feeding her, and eventually named her Leela. (That's a reference to Doctor Who, not to Futurama).
Not surprisingly, she eventually made it inside where it was warm and dry. Although she wasn't particularly social, she also was not completely feral. She didn't like the other animals in the house, but as long as they left her alone she was content to do the same. She mostly lived in our dining room, with occasional forays into the kitchen or the home office. I don't believe she ever, of her own will, set foot on the stairway. I brought her upstairs once and she wanted nothing to do with it.
And so Leela lived with us for four, going on five, years. She had obviously had a hard life before meeting us, but she was domesticated enough that I think she was either lost or abandoned by another family. We have no idea how old she was, but she clearly had either arthritis or a hip injury and had some small difficulty walking.
For quite a while she took up residence in my home office, and would curl up in her red comfy cat bed on the bench near my desk. Although she never sought out affection, she would purr contentedly when it was offered to her. Surprisingly, she particularly liked to have her belly rubbed.
Unfortunately, she also had persistent health issues. She had digestive issues and infections that caused her to make messes inside the house. Treating with antibiotics helped some, but not completely. More recently, her hip problems got significantly worse. As of last week, she was unable to even jump up to her usual napping spots and was effectively trapped on the floor. The tile floor became increasingly difficult for her to walk on, her hind legs would splay out and she couldn't get any traction. She started yowling non-stop. Attempts at medication failed, because anytime I gave her anything (we had both a pain reliever and an antibiotic), she would promptly throw it up. She was eating and drinking, but then throwing most of that up as well.
On Friday we made the hard decision that the quality of her life was so poor that it was simply inhumane to let her go on that way. Yesterday morning I took her in to the vet's office, and she was put to sleep. In the end it was very peaceful for her. She was purring as I pet her, and was very content. The sedative the vet gave her relaxed her completely, and her final moments were very comfortable and humane.
Still, I feel like crap about the whole thing. I know it was the right thing to do, and I know it was done as humanely as possible, but it was hard to sit and hold her and watch the light go out of her eyes. I tell myself that the Right thing is very rarely the Easy thing, but still...