Sunday 11 April 2010 began for us as a sad day. For months we had watched our 19 year old moggie, Jasmine, lose her beautiful strong body and magnificent coat as she succumbed to the ravages of old age.
We didn't want to see what we saw and so we made excuses and told each other that she would be fine in a few days. We had been told 4 years previously that she wouldn't live much longer and yet here she was, still with us. So why was now any different? But of course it was. I saw my mother in Jasmine as I watched my mother die slowly in the last year of her life, wasting away to just skin and bone.
Jasmine was fine for quite a while even though she had knots in her beautiful coat that we had to cut out. The fur would grow again and we would sigh in relief. She didn't appear to be ill and never stopped wanting food right up to yesterday morning. She slept a lot but then that's what cats do most of their lives. She still followed us around the house, allowed Shaye (our Golden Retriever) to nudge her and chase her sometimes until she was sick of him and gave him a swipe of warning.
Jasmine was the middle moggie of 3 girls that we adopted. The first Mitten, came into our world in 1988 from a flea market. And yes, she was covered in fleas! I paid $5 for her. In 1991 I read a story in January about all the kittens and puppies that had been handed in to the RSPCA by people who obviously had bought them for pets for Christmas and then tired of them. We felt sad about this and decided that Mitten would love a friend. We forgot to ask her!
A trip to the RSPCA saw us come home with this adorable moggie. She had the most beautiful coat of multi colours and a tail that was huge. I guess she was a couple of months old at the time. Mitten disliked her from the moment she arrived but they managed over the next years to come to some agreement about sharing the house and getting on together. Mitten was a loner though and made sure that Jasmine knew who was boss.
Some years after Jasmine arrived my son came home with a tiny black kitten that he found in the warehouse at work. She was starving, so young that she didn't have a full coat, and she smelled very bad. We bathed her and each time we fed her it came straight out the other end. But we persevered and in time she became well and grew, although she was tiny compared to Jasmine. Jasmine became her mother and they paired off away from Mitten who didn't give a damn anyhow. Our idea was that we would give Sootie (the baby) to my mother as my father had passed away in 1990 and we felt Mum needed someone to look after. However my mother had other ideas and refused, so Sootie stayed with us.
Sootie was the first to die and as my kids had all left home by then, it was my duty to do the right thing. I took her to the vet when I found her that morning so ill, and they put her on a heat blanket with a drip but told me that really there was little hope. It all happened so suddenly as she had never been sick that I knew of. The next day I was advised that I wouldn't be able to take her home as she would die if taken off the blanket and drip. I had no alternative, between my tears, to agree to have her put to sleep. I went to the vets after a day at work and I held her for a while until it was time. I sat next to her and held onto her as she died, the tears stinging my eyes as they rolled down my cheeks. I have never forgotten that day and never will. It was probably the hardest decision I have ever had to make. She looked at me as if to say it was okay, that she understood; but it wasn't okay with me and never will be.
Mitten died in 2005 and she had been with us since 1988, so she was an old lady too. She wasted away gradually and I was still living on my own. Again I denied the undeniable and thought that she would be okay. One night though I went looking for her as she had gone outside. I found her in the dog kennel in a terrible state. It was a weekend of course and late afternoon so getting to a vet was difficult. I had the fire on inside so I made up a bed for her near the fire and laid her there. She died in the night with me watching over her and crying my eyes out for hours, feeling so inadequate and terrified watching her die and listening to the noises of death.
I lost my beautiful cattledog that year as well, so the sadness of losing pets knocked the wind out of me. I only had Jasmine left and at that time she was a healthy big girl. She became the pet of the house and ruled the roost. She missed her friends though I know, just like Shaye is now missing Jasmine. He keeps going to the places where she might be .. like behind the curtains on the window sill, on the mat near the back door, in the family shower (lately she had taken to lying in the shower recess for some strange reason). He knows she is gone and I love him for showing me that he cared and he feels a sense of having lost someone out of his life.
My daughter told my son a few days ago that he would have to take Jasmine to the vet but he wouldn't face it saying that she might come good in a couple of days. I knew he was fighting this battle within himself and I knew that the longer we put it off the more inhumane we were being to a beautiful lady. Yesterday morning he saw that it was over as she could barely get up from the mat.
I couldn't face going to the vet yesterday so my daughter and son took Jasmine and stayed with her as she was put to sleep. She is being cremated at my son's insistence and will come back here to spend her time sitting next to my adorable cattledog Scrubber. May she rest in peace.
My son placed a vase of yellow roses from our garden on the mat where she loved to lay along with a small furry chicken off an Easter egg. I might add that my son is 41 years old so yes, there are still some of us humans alive who love our pets dearly and mourn their passing. He is going through the guilt pangs now because he made the hard decision. I know what he is feeling, I've been there a number of times. But we have wonderful memories of our pets and many photos to remind us always of their presence in our lives. And how many times do most of us say, when our loved ones are dying, that if they were our pets we could do the right thing and humanely put them to rest? It's not so easy to do though when it's looking you in the face.
I kissed Jasmine goodbye through my tears and thanked her for allowing us to share her life with her.