Yesterday, after a hell of a lot of heartbreak, I took my cat Neo to the vet to have him put to sleep. At the moment I am inconsolable and keep bursting into tears. He had been my pal and constant companion for eight years. Now I feel as if a piece has been ripped out of my life and I can’t find anything to fill the hole. If there is an afterlife for cats then I hope he’s chasing birds and having a whale of a time.
Neo came to live with me when he was about six months old when his original carer, my friend Sokina, found it impossible to keep him at her home. Initially, the intention was that he would stay for a few weeks and then return to Sokina’s. We did try returning him but he soon had to come back to me where he remained for the rest of his life.
He had as happy a life as an indoor cat could possibly have. We got along well and I nattered to him all the time. Once, about three years ago, he fell off my second floor balcony and disappeared for a few weeks before returning skinny as a rake.
I used to take him, in his cat box, up to my mum’s in Cheshire. He travelled very well and loved it there where he had a whole house to explore and hide in. I wish I could have taken him there one last time.
Last autumn it began to be clear that things were not right with his health. He started peeing a lot and drinking excessively. I took him to the the vet who, after a series of tests over a month or so, diagnosed him as diabetic. I was unable to contemplate injecting him with insulin every day so we put him on a low carbohydrate diet and some tablets to help stimulate his pancreas. Initially this worked quite well but after Christmas he developed a weakness in his back legs and for the past three months had been unable to walk more than a few steps. He spent most of his day just lying down and was obviously very unhappy.
I realised three months ago that the kindest thing to do would be to put him to sleep. Perhaps selfishly, but with the best of intentions, it took me all that time to make the decision. I finally made up my mind that I had to do it only last Thursday and spent the next couple of days giving him lots of love and affection, feeding him all his favourite foods and crying rather a lot.
Yesterday morning I took loads of photographs of him (most of which are not that good) and set off to walk to the vet. I had arranged to meet Sokina along the way so that we could both be with him at the end. The vet and his assistant were very kind and gave the three of us lots of time together after they’d inserted a catheter into a vein in his leg. When the time came, the vet injected a strong anaesthetic into the catheter and Neo went to sleep in just a few seconds. It all seemed very peaceful. The two people who loved him the most were with him up until the end.
My flat feels very empty at the moment. I keep expecting to see him hiding under a chair or something. Weird that. I’m pretty certain I did the right thing; I told him that I was doing it because I loved him which was entirely true. At least he is no longer in any pain although I wish that he was still here.
Wherever you are, Neo, I hope you’re happy. Goodbye, old pal and one day perhaps I’ll be able to look you up. You were a really lovely person. Thanks for everything. See you later, man!
Posted 30 March 2008, 10:22 BST