Yesterday we decided to put down one of our cats, Ella. We had her for 15 years, ever since we moved into our first apartment in North Hollywood. Ella was adopted with her brother, Otis, and the cats traveled with us through three apartments and up to our house when we moved to Santa Clarita in 2001. Ella was never a friendly cat. She never let us pet her until about 3 years ago, and even then it was on her terms, usually when she was rubbing against your leg. Her brother was the affectionate cat. Otis used to jump on the couch and sit on your lap. Ella, well, she didn't like people. I used to call her skittish, but I really think she just didn't like human beings.
Ella and I had a strange relationship. She would meow whenever I came home, usually asking for food. Even though Julie would feed her, the cat still seemed to look to me for her meals. This drove me crazy. In fact, most of the things that Ella did drove me crazy and made me want to string the cat up. She destroyed an entire section of carpet at the doorway of Jacob's room by scratching it with her claws, like a scratching post. This despite the fact that she had a massive scratching post in the toy room all to herself. Actually, Ella had the whole house to herself. Doodle (our 3rd cat) was relegated to living outdoors after she urinated throughout the house causing us to have to buy all new carpeting. And Otis ran away about four years ago, never to be seen again.
About two years ago Ella developed intestinal problems that led to her defecating all over the house. On the carpet, on Sophie's bed, on the furniture, you name it, Ella probably left a surprise there. We bought her special food and this seemed to work for a while, but lately she had been getting much worse. It was for this reason that I took her to the vet yesterday. We wanted him to check to see if she had an apparent signs of disease. He proposed many tests to find out and he must have seen from the reaction on my face that the costs of those tests was just not something we could afford. Then he suggested saying "bye" to her.
Julie and I had spoken a couple of times about when it would be time to say goodbye to Ella and possibly put her down. Hearing the vet suggest this coarse of action was so... surreal. I called Julie and we grappled with the decision, however we ultimately decided that it was the best thing to do. The vet was very understanding and comforting. I was getting choked up while talking to Julie; I have never had to make a decision like this. After they took Ella into a back room, an assistant said he would get our cat carrier for me. As he opened the door to bring it back to me, I could see a couple of people holding Ella down on a table (otherwise she ould have bolted and scratched all of them) preparing to end her life. I went numb, I still kind of am. Driving home felt like a dream.
Later in the day, as I was cleaning her bowl and her litter box or the last time, I though, "Ella woke up today and just wanted some food. Then she wound up in the cat carrier and was taken to the vet. Then she was on a metal table. Then everything went black. She didn't expect this today." I never thought I would be sad about Ella leaving us, but the house does feel different without her. I feel a little different without that cat. Her presence is missing. I may not have loved her like I loved the other two cats, but she was still a part of our family.
The kids handled it pretty well. This was the second pet death in the past year. Budd and Karyn's dog, Sadie, passed away last year and Jake and Sophie were pretty sad. We used to watch Sadie when Budd and Karyn would leav town. During those weekends, I would always get frustrated because Sadie would eat Ella's special "don't shit on the carpet" food and Ella would eat Sadie's food that was filled with her numerous medications. Sadie had been a loving, friendly canine. Ella, on the other hand, had rarely paid any attention to the kids. So I was surpsised at how upset Jacob was. He cried for a bit. Sophie showed some tears, too, but she was philosophical about it.
"Dad, now Sadie can go back to eating Ella's food and Ella can eat Sadie's."
I hope that Ella, Otis and Sadie are all chasing each other. But knowing Ella, she's hiding under God's bed until the coast is clear to go scratch the carpet.
Rest in peace, Ella.