Monday, November 8, 2010

The Love of Animals and the Pain of Loss

Today I was reading a story about a dog who, long after its owner had died, was still waiting for the car to come home at its normal time. I think we've all heard of Greyfriar's Bobby (I've visited the statue in Edinburgh and the replica of it in San Diego) who waited at his owner's grave for years. Animals are amazing in their capacity to give love.

I have two cats, whom I love very much. One of them is dying. Last January I was told she had between 3 months to 2 years, but probably closer to the lower side of that estimate. Obviously, she has made it 10 months now, which we are grateful for, even though it means daily medication. Although she has cancer, you'd never know it by looking at her. She has been active, happy, and affectionate. She is not suffering in any way, although she really dislikes getting her medicine so that is a bit of a trial every night. Otherwise, everything is normal with her.

It saddens me when I think about losing her. Right now she is sitting next to me as I write this, curled up in a little orange and black ball. I also don't think our other cat will handle being alone very well, something that worries me. Our ill girl is the more self-sufficient one while the boy is the needy and neurotic cat, more likely to miss her than for her to miss him.

It isn't fair that we will have to lose her, probably within the next year. Then again, life isn't fair. Cancer certainly isn't. It takes many people and animals, including the young and the otherwise strong.

I can only give my cat the best care possible, lots of attention and love, and enjoy what time I have with her. That was true before I knew she was dying, just as it remains true today. In turn, she continues to give me the love and affection she has given us since we brought her home from the shelter.

Every time we've lost a beloved pet, it has been hard. I have several cats and dogs from my childhood whom I still miss. So does my husband. Sometimes I wonder if we shouldn't have pets because it is so hard to lose them. However, when we've had no pet in our home, we've found our lives so empty and lonely that we had to go to the shelter and adopt. That's how we ended up with these two furry companions. Our previous cat had died, suddenly, and we had no pet for almost four months because we were so devastated by his death. Finally, though, we decided to get some cats. The day after we brought them home, I realized we had waited too long. We had been miserable without a cat in the house.

Pets bring so much to our lives, and ask for so little in return. I'm glad we have these cats in our lives. Although I will be heartbroken when we lose them, I can't say I wish I never had them. The world would be a darker place without their love.

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