Years ago when I was in grad school in sociology, I remember an article appeared in The Journal of Marriage and Family which pointed out that researchers were ignoring a major role player in family dynamics if they didn’t consider the family pet. At the time, that struck me as funny. But I also knew it was true. As kids, my sisters and I had been terribly attached to our Scottish terrier, Spoofy, and were heartbroken when our dad moved us into an apartment and insisted we had to give him away. I know Spoofy has long since gone to dog heaven, but I still think about him and the days we spent roaming the woods near our old house.
When I met my husband, I had a calico cat, Cleo, a gift from my brother-in-law. She was a love bug and lived to be twenty-two. A few years after Cleo, we adopted two new cats from the Humane Society and somehow ended up with four cats, when two others arrived who really needed homes. Unfortunately, they detested each other and nearly drove us mad.
When they finally all passed away, we swore we were done with having cats. But a few years later, we decided one cat would work. So we adopted Lucy, a tuxedo cat, from the Humane Society. She isn’t terribly friendly to visitors, but she adores us, particularly my husband, and the feeling is mutual. She spends great amounts of time in our laps, purring away as we pet her. She’s added so much to our lives and our home.
Right now, we’re worried. Lucy has been throwing up for the last several days, not eating, and getting increasingly lethargic. The vet diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome and gave her two injections yesterday. Today, though, she seems even worse, and we’re about to take her back in to the vet.
Hopefully, our beloved cat will get better. But it’s possible she won’t. I know that death is a part of all of our lives, including the lives of our pets. But I never feel ready. She really is a beloved member of our family.