My daughter’s cat Gracie died yesterday afternoon, quietly at home.
She was only 3-years-old and had been Mini-Me’s 7th birthday present.
We knew this was coming. We just thought we had more time.
Gracie hadn’t been herself for about a month. It started with her peeing in places where she shouldn’t—never pleasant.
Thinking it was a UTI, the vet treated her with antibiotics, and we quarantined her for 4 days to see if she’d improve.
But she didn’t. She continued to pee everywhere. It was awful. I was losing my patience and threatening to get rid of her.
We took her back to the vet about 10 days ago and she was diagnosed with Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). The vet told us it was fatal and untreatable, and that it could be months or just days—there was no way of knowing. She gave her some steroids to make her more comfortable and sent us home.
I’ve been slowly getting the kids used to the idea that Gracie wasn’t getting any better.
“Be gentle with her, kids. She how skinny she’s gotten? If she doesn’t start eating soon, she could die.”
“Eat, Gracie. Come on, girl. Eat something. Just a bite,” the kids would encourage her.
But two days ago, she really took a turn for the worse. I found her behind the washing machine, panting. I tried to coax her out, but she just meowed at me, weakly, and put her head down.
In the morning, I found her resting under the TV armoire. She was exhausted and weak. Her nose was beige instead of its usual bright pink color. I tenderly picked her up and held her for a long time, telling her over and over how loved she was and how much we’d miss her.
When the kids woke up an hour later for school, I told them how sick she was and that I didn’t think she’d make it through the day. I encouraged them to all say goodbye to her just in case.
We made her a bed on her favorite brown blanket, but she slowly meandered back under the TV armoire to rest on the cool hardwood floor.
My hunch was correct. That would be her last day.
I checked on her throughout the morning, watching her breaths get shallower and shallower.
Right before lunch, I lay down on the floor next to her and stroked her again, pleading with her to let go. “Please Gracie. It’s time. I love you and I’ll miss you, but it’s time for you move on, sweetheart.”
Half an hour later, she was gone.
Our dog Ike came over and lay by me, putting his head on his paws and looking up at me with his big brown eyes. He doesn’t like it when I cry, but I sensed he too was sad.
I delicately wrapped Gracie’s limp body in one of Mini-Me’s old pink flannel crib sheets, thinking it would make us all feel better, especially Mini-Me. Then my husband and I waited for the kids to get off the bus.
“Is Gracie still alive?” Mini-Me asked.
“No sweetheart. I’m so sorry,” I whispered as I held her.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the sound of their crying.
They wanted to see her and pet her one last time and kiss her goodbye. We all cried, even my husband who isn’t really an animal person.
Then we all picked out a spot in the yard to bury her and Bucket Head and I went to the store to buy a tree while my husband dug the hole.
We picked a white flowering Dogwood tree because the white blossoms will remind us of Gracie’s pretty white coat. The irony is not lost on my 12-year-old son, Nature Boy. He insists we call it a “Catwood” tree instead.
Everyone said a prayer and we all helped with the burial and tree planting so there would be closure for us all.
Then Mini-Me spent a long time sitting by her new tree, saying goodbye.
At dinner, we went around the table and shared what we’d miss the most about Gracie.
She used to love to do organizing projects with me and sleep on my lap while I was writing. Her furry toes always cracked us up. She loved when we rubbed her feet and would spread her toes for us to make it easier to massage in between each of her little pink paw pads.
She loved to play with our dog Ike’s tail and swat at it as he passed by her.
Gracie was a big hit at Preschool Pet Day last fall!
But our favorite thing about Gracie was watching her groom herself on Nature Boy’s freshly-shampooed head. They had a special bond.
For such a small creature, she sure had a big personality!
She was only in our lives for a short time, but those three years were good ones, for all of us. Today we are sad and missing her, but we are also filled with gratitude to have had such a great pet in our lives. The name Gracie is truly befitting for her, as she has gracefully taught us about unconditional love, loss, and the circle of life.
Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. This is shaping up to be a pretty difficult week.
With love and fond memories,
PS - We’ll resume our Just the Tip Tuesday Back-to-School for Bloggers series next week. Thanks for your patience and understanding.