Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Goddamned Circle of Life

Not my cat. Just an amazing Parisian flee market cat painting.
I'm sitting here staring at an index card on which I've scribbled prices for various, um, end-of-life services for my cat.

Euthanasia: $52
Euthanasia at home: $110
Cremation with ashes: $163
Cremation without ashes: $40
Yard burial: Free

You can imagine how much I hate this index card right now, right? I mean, I pride myself on not being any kind of crazy cat lady—I barely mention my cat—did you even know I have a cat? But I love my cat. I've had her since I graduated from college and struck out on my own for Madison, Wisconsin to become a lesbian. (Just kidding—have you been paying any attention at all?)

When I was little, seven or eight, I desperately wanted a cat—specifically one of the sweet, fluffy, playful kittens being offered up by the neighbors. Instead my parents inexplicably bought me a box turtle. WTF, parents? Did getting me a sweet, fluffy stuffed cat not cross your mind? Because that would have been a much closer approximation of what I was after.

I vowed to get a cat as soon as I was on my own. And I named her Turtle.

Turtle has been with me through 8 apartments, 1 house, 17 (92?) jobs, scores of terrible dates, scores of awesome dates, some boyfriends, a girlfriend, too many heartbreaks to count (I'm easy that way), 9/11, too many wars, three cars, one husband, two pregnancies, and two grabby kids. And she's only complained once—that time I cut her claw too short and hit a nerve.

Euthanasia is so fucking weird. It feels sort of evil and inhumane, but the alternative ultimately feels more evil and inhumane—to make her suffer when an end to her suffering is a mere $52 away. $273 if we go all-out.

I know everyone's been through this once or even lots of times—tell me how to make it better. For her, for me, for the three-year-old?

(Though honestly the three-year-old seems totally unfazed so far. On the way home from the vet the other day she asked if we could get another cat "when we're done with Turtle."

"You mean when she dies, honey?"


"And she's all done living in her body?"

"Yeah and we throw it in the garbage and get a new one."

I swear my kid's not a sociopath. She hugs trees. She loves Turtle. She buys her treats and gives her food and scratches her head and keeps her company on the radiator on cold mornings.

But when Turtle's good and gone, the three-year-old would like you to know she wants a new cat.

"What kind of cat would you want if we got a new one?"

"A purple one."

Yes, that I can probably do. A purple cat. The stuffed kind—and I don't mean taxidermy.)

Turtle and the three-year-old three-ish years ago.

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