“06880” reader Adam Stolpen writes:
My best friend died Sunday morning, and I was responsible. Though a vibrant personality to his last breath, he was quite ill and in pain. I wanted him to die naturally at home, but could not cause him to keep suffering simply because I loved him too much to say goodbye when he depended on me not to prolong the inevitable through heroic means.
We first met Dusty at the Westport Humane Society nearly 2 decades ago. He won all of us over. As any friend of a cat knows, he quickly proved that our home was now his place. He seemed to tolerate me as well as my son Eduard, but it was clear he was my daughter Betty’s cat.
Dusty was a constant presence, and a singularly pleasant companion. As he approached a people-age of 100 he began to slow down. He spent his days watching life from the window, sleeping in the sun on his favorite chair and developing a psychic way of knowing every time I approached the refrigerator (which held his fresh shredded Stew Leonard’s turkey).
Recently his body began to fail him. Couch backs were replaced with cushioned seats, high beds ignored. By last week his favorite hidden shelf became too much of an effort to reach. He lay in the sun on a rug. Wonderful vets tried what they could. He’d knowingly look into our eyes. We sensed he was saying, “It’s not that you live, but how you live. For me it’s over.”
Betty came up on Saturday. They lay near each other, his head resting on her hand. He slept by her all night. The next morning he came to me. We sat for an hour talking — ok, I talked. He listened and snuzzled my leg. We followed our morning routine, watching the sun come up one final time.
We took Dusty to the vet early Sunday morning. He was not alone at the end. He knew he was deeply loved. It was quiet, peaceful and gentle. I have little doubt he was aware of what was happening, and was content. How different the life of this abandoned kitten could have been 20 years ago if we’d not met.
But this story is not just about Dusty, or how much is missing from our home since his death. It’s about how much he brought into our lives, and how glad we all are that we visited the Westport Humane Society and adopted that little ball of dust.
They’re open today, with animals waiting for a new home. I know, because we took all Dusty’s things, to pass along to the next stray kitten who wanders in.