I’ve written about my geriatric cat Connie before.
He died yesterday. He had stopped using the litter box and was having a terrible, miserable day-to-day existence, so we took him to the vet and had him euthanized.
There’s nothing about the experience that isn’t shitty, and I can’t elevate it through writing, no matter how well-considered the words. I don’t have any great insights about life and death and pet ownership.
I feel guilty that I didn’t do enough to improve his life, and in retrospect the many accommodations we had to make for him weren’t so bad compared to the finality of his death. And yet he is still gone. It’s silly to cry over the loss of an animal, and embarrassing to cry in front of strangers. And yet I did both.
I’m a parent now, so why should I mourn a dead cat? Especially a cat, an animal notorious for its aloofness, its conditional affections. It’s effeminate, it’s unmanly to do anything other than shrug at a dead cat. When a dog dies, that’s different. With a dead cat, you make a joke and move on. Right?
No, fuck you, man. I’ll knock your fucking teeth out your head. I’m not sitting here fucking sobbing, all right? I feel shitty that my cat died. Don’t be a dick about it.
He was a nice old cat. I nicknamed him Furry Con after the hand puppet named Furry Tom in that horrible but awesome movie The Last Boy Scout. We picked him up at the Humane Society fifteen years ago in Boulder, Colorado. Just a garden-variety cat.
Is this public grieving? Bleeding all over social media? I hope not. But writers and cats, it’s a thing, so you’ve got to mention it when the cat dies. Still, there’s always something a little off about a writer who just has to tell you about his pets in his biography: “So-and-so lives with her wonderful husband and cats Fucknuckles and Spittake in the wilds of Missoula, where she is working on her next best-seller.” Or worse, the spergy autobiography list, which is super-popular on Twitter: “Public Speaker. Husband. Truth-seeker. Cat owner. YA Sci-fi novelist. Kitchen ninja. #Amwriting”
At least, at least I’m not referring to the cat as a fur kid. Fur kid. Are you fucking kidding me? It’s not a kid. A cat is nothing like a child. Look, I know that as a dad I shouldn’t look askance at adults who don’t have children, but it’s pretty damned hard not to when Tyler and Chloe Smith refer to their Maine Coon mix as their fur kid. No matter how much you love your cat, it ain’t never gonna be a kid. There’s no line to blur.
Anyway, rest in peace, Furry Con. It would be nice if the God that made us all gave you a soul. If He did, then I pray your little cat soul is at peace, doing whatever it is you’d want to be doing for eternity. If He didn’t, then perhaps one day we’ll gather together the enormous number of hairs you left around the house and have you cloned. I wish I’d done more for you while you were alive.