It’s never easy saying goodbye to a pet. We invite these four-legged family members into our home and hearts knowing they are not going to outlive us. We know that one day, our beloved pet is going to pass on. Yet, we still adopt them and bring them into our hearts and homes without hesitation. This past weekend I had to make the difficult decision to put our cat, Sophia, down. It was a difficult choice. It was a tough choice. But it was a choice that needed to be made.
I adopted Sophia about 12 years ago from a local no-kill shelter. That is how we have always adopted our cats. Sophia had a rough life before coming into our family. She was just 8 weeks old, but in those 8 weeks before we adopted her she had experienced homelessness, abuse, and mistreatment. In the beginning, Sophia was very standoffish. I knew she would have a hard time being adopted because she was not playful or snuggly. She just wanted to be left alone. Even at 8 weeks old, this kitten had decided humans were not her cup of tea. But I adopted her despite her reclusive behavior.
Sophia came home to a house full of loved and well-adjusted pets. At the time, we had the triplets, Sebastian, Saddie, and Seidereck. I figured if Sophia saw how much the other cats love to play, hang out in the windows and sit with me while I watched television that she would eventually warm up. I thought it would take a few weeks, months at most, but it never happened.
After a few years, Sophia would climb up in bed once in a while and sleep with us in the middle of the night. But as soon as we noticed she was there she would take off like a lightning bolt and return to her realm under the bed. That is where she lived. For nearly 12 years, Sophia lived under my bed only coming out when everyone had gone to bed or we had left for the day. Since I was the first one up in the mornings I would see Sophia in passing. She would see me and saunter towards the bed. We had an understanding. I let her live her best life, undisturbed and she was happy.
Despite Sophia’s loaner attitude I did force her to go to her yearly vet visits. I would even take her in for an annual grooming appointment. That was another thing she would refuse to do. She refused to groom herself, so once a year I would take her in and have her shaved like a lion. While she hated the car ride to the vet, she was always so much happier when we came home. She loved her grooming appointments.
This past weekend, Peyton and I came home from a school function and Sophia was laying on the couch. That is completely out of character for her. She didn’t even move when Peyton walked by. I instantly knew something was wrong. I picked up the phone and made an appointment for Sophia to be seen immediately. I had a sneaking feeling that Sophia would not be coming home with me from the vet’s office so I made sure Peyton did not come with me. And I was right.
During our vet visit, I spoke with the doctor about Sophia’s medical records. 2 years ago when I had taken Sophia in for her annual grooming appointment the bloodwork showed that she had decreased kidney function. For the past 2 years, I knew we were living on borrowed time. I requested a blood draw to check her levels and we waited. We waited for those little machines to spin and do their job.
When the results came back they were not good. Poor little Sophia’s levels were off the charts. They were so bad that even the machines couldn’t read them. Sophia’s kidneys were done. They were no longer working and it would be a matter of hours to a few days before she passed on. There was nothing I could do to fix the situation. I didn’t want her suffering for the next few days so I chose euthanasia. It was a tough choice. One I struggled with and cried over but in the end, I knew it was the best choice for Sophia. Bringing her home would have been selfish.
Every pet owner has a day like I did. They may not have to make the choice I did but we all have to deal with the loss of our loved one. I gave Sophia the best life she could have. I provided her a safe home that allowed her to be her. I didn’t force her to be social. I didn’t force her to be something she was not. Instead, I let her live under the bed and gave her all the food, shelter and love that she needed on her terms.
Would I do this again? Yes. Why? Because having a four-legged family member is amazing. The joy they bring to the house. The fun and excitement are priceless. While I’m not rushing out to adopt a kitten I am encouraging other families that are thinking of adopting pets to consider their local shelters. Jinx and Sebastian are both shelter cats. They are two of our four-legged family members.
Adopting a shelter pet has been some of the best experiences for us. We helped an animal find a forever home. They have brought so much joy and happiness to our home I cannot fathom life without them. So if you are looking to add a four-legged member to the family, please, check your local shelters. Consider bringing home a rescue pet and giving them their best chance.