My wonderful cat, Mugsy, died a week ago last Tuesday.
Nobody knew exactly how old he was, but he was about 19 years old. He had three owners during his lifetime. I got him around 1997 when my friend Richard moved to Nanaimo. I was given an ultimatum. Take the cat or he gets put to sleep. My conscience did not let me refuse.
As an aside, I was also given a stereo system, a microwave oven and maybe a couple of other things I can’t remember, and none of these objects outlasted Mugsy. In retrospect the cat was probably the highest quality item among them.
Anyways Mugs had slowed down over the last few years, as old cats do, but it was only over the last week and a half of his life that he started showing signs of packing it in. He had begun to drag his hind quarters, and by Monday, could barely lift his head to eat. When I left for work on Monday morning he was lying next to his food, which he would never do. The food I gave him would never get eaten.
I arrived home Monday to find him snuggled against a baseboard heater, which I had left on higher than I normally would when not home, specifically for Mugsy. It was really very very sad. I said hello to him, and he let out the weakest, highest pitched meow I had ever heard from him. Turns out he was saying goodbye. He stretched his front paws forward slightly.
I brought him his water bowl, but he could only lick the side of it. I decided to let him die in peace as opposed to stressing him out with a trip to the vet. It was the right decision, as he died sometime between midnight and 3 AM.
When I awoke he was stiff as a board and his body was cold, and I felt I had to dispose of the body as quicky as possible. I really had no idea where to begin. I turned on my computer and started searching for advice. Amazingly, there was none to be found, or at least nothing that I could use.
Actually there was lots of advice online, all identical, namely, to call a veterinarian. However, my fear of exorbitant fees overwhelmed me, especially considering the state of my cat. Founded or not, I did not see this as a serious option. Am I ever cheap sometimes!!!
Since it was so early in the morning and the SPCA’s office hours were from 9 o’clock, I packed the remains into a Dollarama bag, and then doubled it up with one of those black garbage bags, and I brought it with me to work, placing it respectfully on the passenger seat. I sure hope you’re not reading this while eating.
It was the strangest morning. The reality of Mugsy’s death had not really yet sunk in. I was a bit hungover, probably deciding the night before to get drunk in anticipation of Valentine’s Day (see previous post). Also I did not sleep well once I found the cat dead, because his wide open eyes and streched out corpse, amazingly stiff, was in full view of my bed all night long. I was very anxious on my way to work.
It was a very cold morning, and when I locked the car and walked to the office door, I wasn’t worried about the dead cat decomposing or anything like that. We’re talking about temperatures around minus 18 here. Deep freeze conditions. And at the risk of being morbid the corpse was still fresh. Did I mention that the parking lot is outdoors?
Around ten after nine, after another lenghty online research looking for how to respectfully dispose of the body, I called the SPCA, hoping to get some information. After a couple of rings an answering machine picked up, politely asking that after the beep I state the reason for my call. The guy then said that they would call me back as soon as a possible. I hung up.
I made an executive decision, and risked a trip to the SPCA on Jean Talon Street, about 20 minutes away.
It turns out they take dead cats for cremation, for a donation of $35. I was a bit disappointed that it was so expensive. I had, after all, retained the option of simply putting it in the garbage, although admittedly it was only as a last resort.
After weighing all options, an exercise which took all of 10 seconds, I agreed to the donation, and after completing the paperwork, went out to the car for the corpse. While handing the cat to the clerk, I had to fight to keep back the tears. There’s something about the finality of a burial, or in this case, the handing over of a black plastic bag, that brings about a full realization of loss. I left the building within seconds, to a faint ‘Sorry’ from the clerk.
I was told later by someone who knows about these things that had I said that I had found the corpse, they probably would have waived the requirement for a donation. Still, I’m glad I was truthful. Mugsy deserved that at least.
And so went the sad tale of the passing of Mugsy The Cat and the disposal of his remains. Perhaps this post may be beneficial to someone one day searching for answers. I know I would have appreciated finding this post that early morning. And as for everyone else out there in cyberland who happened across this, thanks for listening.