Alas, this was not to last. One morning she didn’t show up for breakfast. Fearing the worst, we searched the house. Finally Shirley found her in the Lower Living Level under a lamp table. Perseph wouldn’t come out. Shirley yelled for me and I pulled her out but as she slid out from under the table she gave that strange grumble that cats make when they are very unhappy but don’t want to spit – yet.
I put her on the floor and then I saw a sad and horrible sight: she dragged herself forward by only her front legs. My heart sank.
I called Hickory even though it was late since they are a 24/7 hospital and they said to bring her in. I pulled the carrier out, placed her carefully in it and we were off, back to the vet.
When we arrived they did a quick check and suggested that we leave her since they’d need to do x rays and that required knocking her out. I could have taken her home and brought her back but I figured it would be more trauma than leaving her.
The next day we got the call: her femur – her thigh bone – was broken just short of the joint. We rode over to the vet and talked with Persef’s doctor, Stefanie Dobbins, and saw the x-rays. Dr. Dobbins went over the choices for us, acknowledging that none of them were good. In fact, the owner, Dr. Brown, who had worked on Persef advised that we give up and put her to sleep. Dobbins suggested that we give her a shot and operate on the leg, put a plate and screws to hold the bone together. She admitted we only had a 50-50 chance of success but Persef had been through so much and was still feisty, we decided to give Persef one more chance.
She came through the operation with no problems and we took her home but she still had to be confined in her cage. Through the subsequent weeks we gave her plenty of lap time and she seemed to be doing well. Finally, she was liberated – or was supposed to: she couldn’t put any weight on her leg. Back to the vet and more x-rays. The news was as bad as we feared. The entire bone had collapsed into multiple pieces.
That was it.
We took her home, back into her cage and we had to decide what to do. Actually, when. We waited until after the election. I must admit I was a coward about it and just wanted to wait. I’d been through this part of being a pet owner with Oscar and just wanted to push it off, knowing it wouldn’t make any difference but unwilling to make the decision.
Finally, we couldn’t put it off any longer and made an appointment to end it. It was more complicated and less personal than the way we ended it with Oscar. With him, the vet gave him 2 injections: one to put him to sleep, the second to stop his heart. All this with the little guy in my arms, tears streaming down my face. At Hickory, they put Persef in an anesthesia box, when she was out, they put a mask on her, and gave her an intravenous ‘overdose’ to end her life. We could hold her but only at arm’s length. While this was less personal, it didn’t stop the tears. Why didn’t I insist on the simple method? Probably I was intimidated by the clinical setting but now it was over.
We came home to only one cat for the first time in 12 years.
Achilles has seemingly taken it well though he doesn’t have his playmate any longer and doesn’t have someone to lick and be licked back. He spends a lot more time with us especially while we’re watching TV. As for me, I frequently look at the pictures I have of her, especially on my phone.
I frequently think of the line from ‘The Hammer of God,’ Arthur C. Clarke’s novel, where he describes the sadness of pet ownership and the seeming insanity of humans having a companion that we are doomed to lose:
“Why, Robert Singh often wondered, did we give our hearts to friends whose life spans are so much shorter than our own?”