Friday night I had to do something that I didn’t think would bother me as much as it has. I took our cat, Chloe, to the vet and had her euthanized.
A cat? That’s right. While cats are not my favorite animal species, when you have a house pet for 17½ years, memories are formed. My wife and I got Chloe for our daughter when Holly was having some difficulties in junior high school. As often happens, we became closer to Chloe than Holly did, and she to us.
Chloe had a unique personality. Frequently, the whole family would be gathered in the den, including our dog and our other cat (Alex). “Where’s Chloe?” we’d wonder. Once, I searched for her and found her asleep on some linen in the dark corner of an upstairs closet. Cats are independent by nature, and Chloe was her own cat.
But she wasn’t totally antisocial. She often jumped up in my lap when I was reading or watching TV. She made her bed by kneading my stomach with her front paws (a stomach that becomes softer as the years go by). Then she’d lie down, close her eyes, and purr with contentment.
I often lie on the bedroom floor to stretch after my evening jogs. Chloe seemed to know when this occurred, because she’d appear out of nowhere to rub her head against whatever free hand was available, coaxing me to massage her. She loved having her cheeks and forehead stroked, getting what I called “Chinese eyes” whenever I palmed her entire head and stroked.
Her biggest eccentricity was her penchant for hibernating in unusual places. Empty cardboard boxes were a favorite domain. Eventually, if we received a large package in the mail, we deliberately saved the cardboard box for Chloe. She’d fancy her new box for a few days, then grow bored with it.
Boxes, soft shoes, clothing, duffel bags, blankets, plastic laundry basket…all were favorite places to take a “catnap.”
Another idiosyncrasy was her taste for lettuce and spinach (and, frustratingly, indoor plant leaves). I always eat a big bowl of leaf spinach in the evening, and often, when hearing the familiar sound of the plastic spinach tub being opened, she would trot over and stare at me. I’d drop a few leaves on the floor, and she’d chew them with delight. This became more difficult as she got older and lost several teeth.
Although an indoor cat, once in a while she’d sneak out the backdoor, and immediately head for the grass, not to stalk birds, but to munch on the grass blades.
We were beginning to think Chloe really did have nine lives. Several times in the last year, we discovered she was peeing outside her litter box. “I think it’s time,” I would say to Lynn. But at the last minute, even after making an appointment with the vet, we’d decide to give her another chance. We filled two litter boxes, one for the basement and one upstairs. We moved these around as needed. And she seemed to adapt to our new techniques.
The last couple years, she was joining the dogs by greeting me when I came home after work, waiting for a stroke and a few Temptations treats. “Hello, Chlo!” I’d say in my Mickey Mouse voice, while Sheba jealously tried to intervene. Chloe took in stride my morbid joke “So, I see you’re still alive!”
By the time last Friday rolled around, though, she was bone covered with fur. The fur itself had become increasingly matted, indicating she was unwilling or unable to groom herself. She seemed to hang around water a lot, even the wet bathtub and shower floors. And over the last couple days, she only sniffed and slightly nibbled her food. She had mucous and moisture under her eyes, and she was having balance problems.
She was probably also losing her mental faculties. The last time she jumped in my lap, on March 21, she didn’t know what to do or where to lay.
She’s now resting in the woods in back of our house, just uphill from Alex. With the trees still bare, I can just see the top of her headstone from the back window.
Yes, the memories. People? Definitely. Dogs? Probably. But I didn’t think a cat’s death would cause the grief it has. Chloe and I did have a bond, however insignificant it might seem. Writing is therapeutic for me, so I appreciate your indulgence.
I’m not religious, but I think we’ll be reunited someday, humans and animals, in a better place. Anyway, that’s what I told Chloe, as I stroked her head while she drifted to sleep for the last time.
Here’s an obit that Lynn composed about our beloved “Chlo-Cat.” Lynn always sees the glass as being half full. (If you’re a regular visitor to longitudes, you know that my glass only has one drop, it’s whiskey, and it’s quickly evaporating.)
Celebration of Life!
Chloe, July (?) 2001 – March 22, 2019
Chloe, Ruler of the Kurtz Clan, passed away on Friday, March 22, 2019, at the age of 18 of a prolonged illness. Sadly missed by her human subjects, Peter and Lynn of Maineville, Ohio; her dog subjects, Sheba and Ginger, also of Maineville; Nick Kurtz of L.A.; and Holly Kurtz of Glasgow, Scotland. Chloe started the world in humble surroundings as a street urchin taken in by the Kurtz’s. Chloe succeeded her mentor, Brownie Kurtz, to the throne in 2008. She went through careful training to be excellent in her role. She was preceded in death by her only other cat subject, Al. Al, or Alex, sometimes showed great disdain at Chloe’s role, but managed to do well as the lowly Kurtz cat subject. Chloe liked to eat her subject’s food on occasion. She had palace rooms on the ground floor and frequented the rest of the house on most evenings. She liked to terrorize her neighbor and petsitter, Becky, by growling and hissing, and got out of her annual physicals by acting very snooty on her doctor visits, and was at one point put in solitary confinement while staying at the vet when her home changed, in 2011. In her failing health, her grooming became a bit unsightly, and bathroom facilities had to be updated.
Contributions can be made to Kings Veterinary Hospital in her memory.
12 thoughts on “Chloe: A Life with Love”
It is amazing that we can develop bonds with some animals, even books or television characters, that we don’t realize till they’re gone. Almost 18 years is a long time b
A long time, indeed. Most of the time Chloe was just “there.” Never thought her absence would be so painful. My wife went overseas 2 days prior, for a month, so that doesn’t help!
They do grow on you, don’t they? Chloe’s only subject, Alex looks very much like Smokey, a rescue cat that lives with our older son’s family. Also retrieved from a life roaming among the garbage cans in the back alley, Smokey has endeared himself to his adoptive family. He too has some fur and skin issues, and tends to break out after too much excitement. And yes, in moments of quiet spite, he will leave a puddle in an unauthorized location. Despite his idiosyncrasies, his family enjoys his presence. Someday, I am sure he will join Chloe’s club, but right now continues to be a family member in good standing. My condolences–may Chloe’s memory be a blessing!
Thanks, Phil. Yeah, Chloe was leaving puddles back when she was a nipper. We just shifted tactics as needed. Lately, though, she’d taken a dive physically, and seemed real confused/listless. Putting Alex down wasn’t easy, either, but Chloe has hit me hard. Thanks for your condolences.
A touching tribute to a loved family pet, if ever there was. As always, thank you Pedro for your tender, caring words (they were cathartic for me, too). To the entire Kurtz clan, my sincere condolences.
PS hope you’re recovering nicely and staying healthy – let’s gather again soon!
Sounds good, ole pal. I just now remember your own beloved Chloe. My tears are trivial in comparison, and I admire your strength…maybe that’s why you’re “Rock”?? (Peter is from “petra,” or rock, but I think I’m more like wet mud.) And yes, a get-together is on the horizon!
I’m so sorry Pete, and family! Chloe was such a beautiful kitty. I know losing an animal friend is always terribly hard. I hope you can take comfort in memories and in knowing you gave her a good life.
Hey, thanks much, Leah. I know you recently lost a feline friend, as well. But I’m sure new member Franklin is having a good life with you.
Oh, I’m sorry for your loss. Chloe sounds like she was a great feline – love learning about her idiosyncrasies.. It’s always hard to say goodbye to our furry family members.
Thank you, Kathleen. With me, there’s always a lot of guilt with the grief (“Should I have switched foods? Done blood tests on her?”). But she did have a great life, and was feisty till the end…growling at the vet even when tranquilized!
Sorry to hear this as pets are a special part of our families. I remember that young looking Nick as many memories have been shared with him. Thinking of your family.
Thanks, MK. Nick was just shy of 14 in that photo (Chloe was 3). The other three aren’t nearly as broken up as I am! (Then again, they’re not in a quiet house filled with memories!)