Thursday, June 07, 2012

Rest In Peace My Lil Bit

Yesterday I had to do one of the hardest things I've had to. Well, except for signing the papers to unplug my brain dead father after a stroke and sign a loved one into the mental hospital for a few weeks. I took my elderly twenty year old kitty Lil Bit to the vet and we put him to sleep. His time had come.

I knew it before we took Lil Bit. Over the last month he's started having mini strokes, would lose the ability to walk for ten or twenty minutes, and became incontinent. He's been very healthy up until that point, healthy but skinny and we kept feeding him special elderly cat food and taking him to our vet every three months to check his thyroid levels. His skinniness combined with borderline thyroid readings made the vet and I think he was developing low thyroid levels and that was why he was so skinny.

Yesterday he started passing blood in his stool, which we would not have noticed had he not become unable to control his bowels well. Made an appointment, in we went knowing it was likely we would be putting Lil Bit down. Once we were at the vet they ran a few tests and discovered he had widespread cancer in his intestines and lungs. The end. He had started to suffer.

Our kindly vet gave Lil Bit some narcotics to relax him as Laura and I petted him. He was purring and relaxed as the vet gave him the final shot. He went quickly and we were given all the time we needed to say goodbye. They made a paw print clay plaque for us and made all the arrangements to have him cremated.

I am still crying today because of all our cats he was the one I loved best. The only reason we had Lil Bit in the first place is that our supposedly Super Christian Evangelical neighbors moved and left him behind about ten years ago. Laura and I could hear piteous meowing from the nearest storm drain. A few bowls of food to coax him out and out popped this small gray and black cat with ears fringed from fighting. We didn't know how old he was but Laura named him Lil Bit and away to the vet we went.

After examining him that first time the vet said he was at least ten years old and he had a few things wrong with him, like an enlarged liver. We had the vet treat what we could and took Lil Bit home. Lil Bit turned out to be the most loving and personable cat I'd ever seen. I could not figure out why anyone would ever abandon him. Lil Bit would sleep with one of us every night and once the alarm went off for Jim to go to work Lil Bit would curl up on top of my head like a purring fur hat. He greeted me when I drove up and opened the door. He greeted me in the morning when I got up, he sat on my shoulder purring whenever I watched television or crocheted. He followed us around the yard and garden, leaving a path around the house that he always followed.

Most of our other three cats come and go as they please. Not Lil Bit, he was right there with a family member all the time except when he was sleeping.

For us Lil Bit wasn't just an animal, he was a family member.

And for the members of my old church my tendency to take care of stray animals, feed the birds outside and love animals was always a problem, so I'm glad if Lil Bit had to be put down it happened after I was free of all that nonsense. God made animals to serve US, I was told, not for us to give them undue place in our lives. Loving animals like you would love a person is UNBIBLICAL!

That never stopped any of them from asking me to bring out my tame white dove when they had a living nativity or living Noah's Ark display or asking me to help wrangle animals for those things. 

There are scriptures in the Bible that talk about how a righteous person takes care of their animals, but 'taking care of' seemed to have a very loose interpretation from what I observed. I remember one of my friends who had a wild barn cat that would have kittens frequently. She'd always take the kittens to the pound as soon as they were weaned because "someone will want them" I had to ask her why she never had the cat fixed, if it was a matter of money I knew that they ran very cheap spay clinics for barn cats through the local animal shelter. Her answer was that 'having kittens was natural, spaying was not!' I remember thinking what an idiot she was even back then when I was still drinking that fundigelical Koolaid because not spaying your cats was so irresponsible. Of course, I was too cowed and chicken shit to say anything to the cat owner.

I saw examples of this over and over in my old church with people and their animals. Most did not believe in taking their animals to the vet because it was, again, 'unnatural - not God's way'. The only exception were the farmers, who did understand the need to at least care for their livestock, have vaccinations and vet visits when needed.

Towards the end of our time at the old church I did finally manage to step up and speak to someone that needed a serious reality check about their animal. Georgia called me in a panic because her mini collie Susan had been ill for months, all old age related things. She'd begrudgingly taken Susan to the vet after I told her if she had any compassion or love for Susan she'd do this one thing. That time Susan's uterus had popped out and had to be maneuvered back in. Because of Susan's age and condition the vet had urged Georgia and her husband Pete to put down Susan, end her misery. They refused because 'only God gives or takes away life." Ugh!!

A few months later after seeing elderly Susan limp with arthritis, almost stop eating, start having seizures I got another panicked call from Georgia. Susan could not get out of her bed and was having constant seizures and diarrhea.  I told her again, take her to the vet immediately, she is suffering and should be put to sleep, it's merciful to stop her suffering. Georgia refused, this time because Pete would disapprove. I got off the phone.

The next day Georgia called up crying, telling me how horrible Susan's last three hours had been before she passed on over the Rainbow Bridge. What she's experienced had changed her mind into thinking that putting a suffering animal to sleep was the right thing to do. Now if I could have only convinced the others in our church that responsible loving people that love God also treat ALL of his creations with that type of love and care.

There are many other stories I could tell about animal mistreatment and neglect that took place at my old church but it would serve no purpose except getting me more stirred up. My love of animals was one of the things thrown in my face when I left, that I was going to become even move 'unbalanced' in my unnatural love for animals if I left, that I needed my brothers and sisters to keep me in check. I laughed in their faces over that one, knowing they were very incorrect on that one.

I'm so glad I left that cult.

I'm so thankful I had ten good years with Lil Bit.

Everyone, please hug your animals today and be thankful for every day you have them. Take care of them. Spay and neuter and make sure their shots are up to date.

Today I've been crying and my kitty Mary has not left my side, trying to comfort me like she does anyone in our household when they are sick or upset. At one point I was crying in the bathroom with Mary, Kiki and Pedro trying to all rub on me at the same time. They know.



Pedro and my son Andy


Jzygail/Karen said...

I'm just a lurker to your blog, but I wanted to tell you how sorry I am at the loss of your sweetheart Lil Bit. I'm a cat lover, too (well, I also love dogs, but I'm violently allergic, so I have to love doggies vicariously through the pets of others :)

{{{{{cheesy internet hugs}}}}} from one cat lover to another. (I have a couple Siamese, too).

Trey Smith said...

Over the last few years, I've written on my blog about having beloved pets put down as well. It's never easy and, let me tell you, it doesn't get any easier the more you have to do it!

Interestingly enough, my wife and I also had a wonderful cat named Lil Bit. Unlike you, we did not have him euthanized. He simply disappeared one day. He loved to venture into the forest behind our house and we believe a coyote or bobcat got him.

Still, we miss him a lot, nonetheless.

ReadyThreadSew said...

I'm sorry for your loss, but happy that Lil Bit had such a nice life with you.

Sarah said...

I love Lil Bit's face in that picture. What a lovely little creature.

melissa said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Animals are such an important part of our lives and give us so much love. Lil'Bit looks so sweet in all the photos you posted.

Victoria Finney said...

I know how you feel, I've had many kitties and treasured them all. But sometimes the most loving thing to do is give them a peaceful pain free death, with your hand gently stroking them until they finally fall asleep.