Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Palliative Care for Cats

CSL [pron: Seezl], the last of my ex-cats is on her last legs. Between the skin cancer that did for both her ears, the thyroid problem that did for most of her body weight, and the dementia that did for her few traces of good nature, she's been on her last legs for a couple of years anyway. But, now that the crusty discharges have started, the Cheynes-Stokes breathing can't be more than a couple of months away.

Old cats can be difficult to love. The cute little kitten, whose name we got off the old vet supplies box we took her home in, has long since turned into a skanky, smelly and utterly repulsive old moggy of questionable personal hygiene. You discover that the earth-tones in the hall runner (a traditional design from the fabled workshops of distant Dandenong) provide perfect camouflage for last night's attack of cat diarrhoea.

She hasn't been getting too many compliments from passing strangers lately and the friendly enquiries about her breed ("long-haired Australian lop-ear") have stopped. Most people pick up speed when they see her pad down the path, or hear her ingratiating mewl. She's a great deterrent to loiterers with intent.

Soon friends will start their well-meaning and pointed inquiries like surely it would be kinder to have her put down? They'll probably get the same answer they got when they asked about the last moribund cat: she may be smelly, incontinent & unpleasant to get close to, but as long as she isn't suffering and still enjoys rolling around in the sun, there's no good reason to euthanase her. Inconvenience is'nt a reason - it's an excuse. Can you smell cat-poo? I swear, I can smell cat-poo somewhere.

So the last visit to the vet will be put off until she's no longer able to stroll imperiously down the hall and call out for the front door to be opened so that she can get outside to poo on the neighbour's front lawn as all self-respecting cats do. And then call out for the door to be opened again, so that she can get back inside to the food bowl. With luck, she won't have to go to the vet at all, and her last hours will be spent curled up on an old towel in somebody's lap. As long as it's not mine, I don't really mind.

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