Monday, March 14, 2011

Dorothy's last day

This morning I took Dorothy to the vet for the last time. She had been going steadily downhill since December, and though he gave her vitamin and steroid injections a few weeks ago, hoping they would perk her up for a little longer, they had no effect. By the time I got back from my trip to Auckland, it was clear that her kidneys had stopped working and she was barely surviving. Though it was the fourth time we've ended a beloved cat's life, it was the first time I've had to go through with it on my own. Still, I'm glad Harvey escaped the sadness of saying goodbye to her.
            She was the only cat we've had who grew really attached to me, but only after Harvey became too frail to feed her or have her on his lap.  Every night she would sit on me after I went to bed and require a thorough petting before she would settle down to let me read, with my book propped against her.
            We got her and her brother as very small kittens over seventeen years ago. As Harvey explained in This Piece of Earth, we called them William and Dorothy after the Wordsworth brother and sister, because we'd recently been to the Lake District. Their names suited them perfectly. William had a strong sense of self-importance and miaowed a great deal, demanding our attention and service. Dorothy, with her pretty Victorian cat-face and her immaculate little white fichu front and paws, bustled quietly about, purred a lot but seldom spoke (when she did, she had a strange, rather grating cry), and loved being outside, preferably with Harvey. Here's part of a poem he wrote about her, when we were living in Farm Road:
      Our foolish cat patiently
      watched me cut liver into
      catsized pieces, then as
      I dropped it to her dish
      sprinted out the open back
      door to sit mewing at the
      closed front door waiting
      for me to let her in. Cats
      rightly enter with style.

And she exited, if not with style, then at least with dignity, love and respect.


  1. What a pretty cat. I'm sorry that she is no longer with you.

    I think I must have seen that poem of Harvey's somewhere already... perhaps on his blog? I remember the idea of cats doing things with style. One should always remember that while dogs are slaves, cats have staff.

  2. She was a very pretty cat. It's so hard, taking the action to let them go, even when we know that it's the right thing to do.

  3. What a lovely cat. I started thinking about all of the beloved cats and dogs (and one or two horses) that I've had to make this horribly difficult decision about. Sad thoughts, but I'm so happy that all of them were part of my life.