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Monday, 17 February 2014

The cat had to go

Today, I took a healthy cat to the vet and asked for her to be put down.

Our four legged friend had a history of violence - the girls were all nervous around her to the point that they wouldn't walk past her on the stairs when she was (deliberately) sitting in the middle of them, and, almost all children visiting the house were scared of her as well, due to the fact she had a some point taken a swipe to them. This, along with all of her annoying habits, was tolerable (albeit embarrassing), as I told myself it taught children to respect the cat's preference for space and understand that animals are not like toys to be played with. (In actual fact, I think the cat used to purposely put herself in the middle of a room with small children in it so as to provoke a response from them. She was not stupid. She knew that small children cannot resist trying to stroke a furry moving thing - she just liked to flex her claws as their reward for clumsy displays of affection towards her.)

But last week, the cat attacked baby Charlotte on two separate occasions. After the second occasion (the baby was in her happy, post milky feed state, kicking her legs on our bed at the time), I noticed afterwards that Charlotte's ear was covered in blood. Enough is enough, I thought.

I got on the phone to various animal charities. All of them were heaving with cats awaiting new homes, and I was told that there would be quite a wait to get our cat taken off our hands. The RSPCA have a hotline for reporting cruelty (to animals), but were not very interested in helping me prevent any further attacks on my children, and lectured me on my responsibilities as a pet owner. This annoyed me. If she were a dog, the law would view things differently, I thought. And given that we had taken her on as a rescue cat, having had her violent streak downplayed by owners keen to get rid of her because she `would be happier in a house without children' (as ours was back then), I started to have my doubts about whether anyone would want her if we were truthful about our reasons for giving her up.

Thankfully, our local vet had a different perspective. She was sensitive to the fact here was a cat that had been a family pet for more than a decade, and also reassured me she was fully behind the decision I had reached. `It's too much,' she said, referring to the cat's latest wild behaviour. `I think you're doing the right thing.'

The act of being there whilst she was put down was not too difficult, to be honest. The vet was very compassionate, and made the process as easy as possible on me and the cat. I was given the choice of whether or not to be present - the vet would have taken her out the back (`...to hit her over the head with a hammer?!' I wondered) had I chosen, but I declined this offer. I think it eased my guilt to agree to be present and hold her while it happened. Having told myself I wouldn't cry, I did.

Far worse has been the rest of the day. Three little girls - and a baby who has picked today to cry more than usual - who have all been hit by waves of grief and the repeated tearful `Will the cat be coming back?' and `Where is the cat now?' from the littlest big girl at different points from me coming back from the vets until they went to bed.

Some TV, they all agreed, would help them in their grief. As would some tea and toast (with jam on, please).

We had talked to them about the cat situation over the weekend - and prepared them for what was going to happen. They even agreed with our conclusions. But now. Well, Mummy is the cat killer in all but name, because (and they have each in turn now declared this to be the case) this is not what they wanted to happen at all.

It'll be interesting to see how this pans out. Even though they have watched me lose a friend to cancer, losing their cat means more to them, because she was much more of a daily part of their lives. Today has provoked some big questions about the subject of death for them, and the emotions are far more raw this time round. Even though they were scared of her, they loved her.


  1. That must be so hard for you as a family, but definitely the right decision. *hugs*

  2. Ugh - what a horrible (but necessary) decision to have to make. Good luck with the grieving little girls. :(

  3. You have definitely done the right thing sweetie - it must have been such a hard decision, especially as you had the cat for so long, but enough was enough if she'd hurt Charlotte - nothing is worth a risk to your children. I absolutely idolised my cat and put her on a complete pedestal until Bert was born, and then suddenly my perspective kicked in, and I realised how she is just a cat - which sounds harsh - but children change your priorities so much. If you'd have let the cat stay and she'd gone on to badly hurt one of the kids you'd never have forgiven yourself. The girls will forgive you, and they'll understand one day when they're bigger and can see the wider picture. Hugs xxxx

  4. Oh my goodness. Poor you. You've got more difficult moments coming with this too, I'd imagine. What a tough decision. I'm not sure I'd have been able to make it, but I think it was right, so well done you. More hugs x :-)

  5. shame on you ! This is one blog I shall not be following, what right have you got to say what lives and dies? We have a responsibility to the the animals we take on, again shame on you!

  6. That's your opinion, and I am guessing you don't have a baby in your house. She (and any other humans I have responsibility for caring for) will always take priority for me, and I don't regret that decision. If that stance means you choose not to read this blog anymore, then so be it - I won't take lectures from people who don't know me or my situation.

  7. And, I should also say, a big thanks to the supportive ladies who also commented - it wasn't an easy decision. The cat had eleven good years in our house (with over half of those with her being prone to random acts of violence towards us) so I reckon she had a good innings.

  8. The thing I like most about your blog is the honesty and good humour with which you approach your posts. Many bloggers shy away from the more serious areas instead painting their lives as a revolving round of tea, cake and fun things (which I know you manage to fit in sometimes!), making the rest of us view our lives as difficult in comparison.
    So, thanks for sharing a difficult post today and well done for dealing with the ridiculous comments from Linda Melmore as well!

  9. Thanks for sharing this story, our cat 'Miss Larkin' is a real pain and often in my blog pictures as she is jealous and can't bear to miss out on anything. We love her to bits and pander to her every need but she is just a free-loader who views us as slaves! Maybe it's selfish on my part but I would probably find it easier to have a (very) middle aged cat put to sleep rather than leaving her in a home to a future of goodness knows what. You made a tough decision for the right reasons. Take care, Josie x