The Death of the Cat

When I was in 4th grade, I finally had a best friend.  She had just moved into the town with her family, and she was really smart.  We were playing the what-do-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up game, and she said that she wanted to be a lawyer.  I said that I wanted to be a veterinarian, and she said no you don’t.  It’s hard for me to make a decision, and her comment stopped me cold in my tracks.  I said, “Why not?” And she said, “Because you have to put animals to sleep.”


The phone rang, and I answered a call from a client who requested the charge of putting two cats to sleep.  I gave him the information he needed, and the call ended.

Two cats.  People don’t request to euthanize two animals at the same time.  This thought started poking me, and I picked up the phone and called the man back.  I explained that I was just curious why he needed two cats put to sleep.  He said that they belonged to his brother-in-law, and that the cats were problems.  One cat was urinating outside the litter box, and the other one was just plain mean.  The mean one had bitten the owner just that day, and that was the last straw.  The cats had to go.  The owner’s wife had died, and they had a bunch of cats, and those two had to go.  He needed someone to take care of the deed for him.

The first man, our client, called later and made an appointment to euthanize the two cats.  I asked him on the phone if the cats could live outside, that I had a safe place for them if his brother-in-law would relinquish them to me.  He said, no, they couldn’t live outside, they’d only ever lived inside, and the cats had to be put to sleep.

The first man brought the cats at the arranged time.  He wanted to drop them off, and pick up the bodies later.  The brother-in-law, the true owner of the cats, was nowhere in sight.  I asked him why the cats needed to be put to sleep.  He said that the cats belonged to his brother-in-law’s wife, and she was deceased.  I thought he meant that the cats had changed their behavior after the death of the wife, but he said, no, she had some problems, and here he raised his hand to his mouth as if tipping up a drink.  She had been in a car accident last year, thankfully injuring no one except herself, and she later died as a result of the accident and the problems.  There were a lot of cats making messes, but these two were the most problematic, and the home had never been kept clean, was filthy, really.  And now that the mean cat had bitten, it was time to make a move. 

He left the crated cats with us, and we set about to do our business.  The first cat was elderly and ill, and had some facial distortions that were caused by tumors in her mouth pushing up behind her eyes, causing them to protrude.  It was clear that euthanasia would be a kindness for her. 

The second cat was a different matter.  She hid in the back of the crate with her face into the corner, crying piteously.  We reached into the crate, and spoke to her, and pulled her out.  She hid herself in our arms and asked for help.  I looked at the vet, he looked at me, I said that I would take this cat home, the other assistant informed me that I couldn’t help all of them, and I refrained from reminding her that she didn’t have a problem when I spayed and rehomed four of her cats when she got evicted, at no cost to her. 

We re-crated the cat, and waited for the man to return.  When he did, I spoke to him and offered to take the cat.  He said, no, that the cat was too mean and that his brother-in-law wouldn’t be responsible for injuries caused by the cat.  I pleaded again, and he said that he understood what I was trying to do, and that he appreciated it, but he had a responsibility to carry out the request of his brother-in-law, and that he couldn’t go back to his brother-in-law and tell him that he didn’t honor his request. 

And the deed was done.

Later that evening I picked up a copy of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, and on the cover, looking back at me, was the cat, or her twin, lounging like a cat should, and not living in a filthy place with a substance abuser.  But the owner got what he wanted, and all the players in this little game upheld his right and privilege to decide how and when his cat would die.


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2 Responses to “The Death of the Cat”

  1. Leo Says:

    I hold the President of the United States prior to President Obama in contempt because he refused to go to war, instead joining the Texas Air National Guard, and then refusing even to fully honor that committment. Because of that it is my judgment that he had absolutely no right to order other men to war.
    In accordance with that, I believe no perosn has the right to ask someone else to do anything they would not do themselves. It is less than honorable to ask someone else to euthanize an animal unless they are fully willing to do it themself.


  2. Kari Says:

    I am sorry Ruth.


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