Today my mother took one of their cats to the vet since he'd been sluggish and weak. I've had my fair share of visits to the vet myself lately, what with the older cat having problems with her thyroid gland (she's going to have to eat medicine every other day for the rest of her life) and the little one have chronic renal failure, most likely caused by unfortunate genes, which means we have no idea for how long she will live. So I know all too painfully well how one's mind works in situations like those. And of course, one always holds on to that tiny sliver of hope that maybe it's not something incurable. One checks the pet all the time, flitting back and forth, worrying, thinking: "Oh, he/she drank a bit of water" or "He/she is at least eating" and hopes that that means they're not beyond help. One lays awake every night, listening tensely for any kind of sound that might be out of the ordinary.
But in the end, the problem with cats is that they're not usually ones to show when they feel ill. Not until things have become so serious it'll almost take a miracle to cure it. And... miracles are hard to come by, despite increasingly skilful vets and better methods and research.
In the case of my parents' cat... It turns out he had a huge tumour in the liver. It can be treated, much alike how one treats tumours in humans. But the treatment is often painful and hard for the cat. Sometimes one has to weigh the well-being of the pet against one's own desires. If you really love a pet you have to be prepared to do what's best for the pet, not what will make you feel best. And for an 8 years old cat, already weakened by the illness itself, the best decision for the cat might not be to put it through the pain of chemotherapy and medicines in absurdum. Sometimes the cure can be worse than the disease. My mother chose to do what she thought would be best for the cat, she let it move on. He won't have to feel any pain, won't be weak or ill any longer. He'll be better off wherever he is now.
It's us humans who are left with the pain of losing him. But at least, hopefully, we can find some comfort in thinking that we did what was best for our beloved pet. It's hard to lose them, even when we know we will someday. But still, even if losing them makes you feel like your heart is being ripped to pieces, you know that for what it's worth you were strong enough to make the best decision and not selfishly cling to the need to keep them by your side. Instead of cursing the fact that you have lost them, you have to be grateful for the time you had with them, no matter how long or short that time is.
Animals give unselfishly of themselves and love us unconditionally. The least we can do is to give back what we get, give them the same amount that they give us and always keep their happiness and well-being in mind.
And here, too far away for me to be able to hug my mother tightly and tell her these things, a candle is burning for the cat we all loved and whose life we will cry for losing. But most of all, that candle is burning for the ones of us who are left behind.
Rest in peace, Rufus
I hope you're having fun at the Rainbow Bridge, baby!
EDIT: I noticed Rufus's birth date is wrong. He was born in 2002, not 2001 as the picture above says.