Looking Over the Ethical Precipice

Talk about euthanasia and immediately everyone looks behind him. Will the Grim Reaper be a hired gun or a loving relative who has had enough?

Every morning my cat vomits, and I wonder if it is time to put her down.

Guilt-tripping eyes

Guilt-tripping eyes

Vomit cleaned up and her food and water refreshed, I sit on the couch, and she wedges herself between the laptop and my stomach. Gently I push her to my side. And there she lies. She has a mighty purr. She is content to be in close proximity – if not to me, to my warmth.

And there you have it: I’m on the cusp. In the blink of an eye, I have walked to the ethical edge of putting her down to backing up and giving her another chance. I have looked over the precipice. It is a long way down.

Reasons for putting her down include her advanced age and her medical bills. She also wakes me nightly so she can hang out with the local, flea-bitten, feral cats. (I am not passing moral judgment here: she has her life to live; I’m just trying to live mine. I would like to sleep the whole night through. Her waking me in the middle of the night to let her out and then her meowing for me to get out of bed again to let her in is making me crabby.)

define necessityI just paid our vet $212 for a diagnosis which called for blood work, medication, and special food.  And, apparently we are not through. We have finished the medication and she is still sick. Obviously, if I were a good person, I would make a return trip to the vet for more blood work. I am not a good person: I am through.

I certainly don’t begrudge the vet making a living, but how is it that I am spending money on an old cat when I have neighbors who, dependent on food stamps and commodities, are still hungry? It seems to me that our priorities are skewed.

Walking to the edge of the precipice, I look at the rocks and turbulent water below. It is a long way down. I have second thoughts. What if my children choose to put-me-down when I become inconvenient?

I cannot put her down today. I am not taking her back to the vet, but spring is right around the corner. Maybe she’ll take heart lying in the dappled sun under the lilac bush. Maybe she’ll live to see another summer.

About timeout2

I have lived 100 lives. I write essays, short stories, poetry, grocery lists and notes to myself. If I am ever lost, look for a paper trail, but be careful not to trip over any books that lie scattered here and there. I am a reader. I am a reader in awe of writers. When I don't live in Westcliffe, Colorado, I live in London where I am a long-time member of Word-for-Word - Crouch End.
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3 Responses to Looking Over the Ethical Precipice

  1. Sherry says:

    Such a difficult dilemma. Have you even had an animal euthanized? It is so humane. We’ve done it once and it was a blessing to dear old Pugsley. As I watched him slip into eternal slumber the thought crossed my mind that it would be such a peaceful way for humans to leave the planet. And I do agree that there are many people who are in desperate need of the necessities of life that it seems strange irony to spend such money on animals, even beloved pets. You’ll know what to do at the right time……

    • timeout2 says:

      Dear Sherry, >>> >>>To answer your un-asked question. I have not looked at/worked on the play. >>> >>>I have put two animals “to sleep.” And you are right – holding the animals in my arms, I was struck by the peacefulness of the process and would wish the same for myself.(I think that I have blogged about Dignitas… but I never get around to indexing my blogs – I’ll look for the blog.) >>> >>>Meanwhile, you might enjoy (“enjoy” is too frivolous word for the subject of assisted suicide), a documentary on Dignitas, a Swiss assisted suicide clinic,that ran on BBC some years ago. The fantasy author, Terry Pratchett had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and he visits Dignitas and ultimately follows through with his final breaths on video. http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/terry-pratchett-choosing-to-die. >>> >>>The first animal that I put to sleepwas my husband’s dog – the third-wheel on our backpacking honeymoon – who crawled into the tent with Mark and growled at me as I tried to join them. After a bit of adjustment on the dog’s part (I was, after all the new woman in Mark’s life) we became fast friends. Over time the dog’s body began to fail. Mark was unable to deal with putting her down, and the dog continued to deteriorate. And then… just as Mark was walking towards his plane bound for China, I called out, “If Poochie is not here when you return, will you still talk to me.” He told me to do what I had to do. And that very day I did what had to be done. I think Mark was away maybe three months, and to this day, he has never mentioned her absence or asked about my putting her down.


      • Sherry says:

        I’ve seen a couple of PBS programs similar to the one you mentioned. IMO a dignified way to die. So glad you were able to act for “poochie.” I haven’t looked at my play either. Restructuring my entire program of PIONEER WOMEN OF FREMONT COUNTY for PCC Senior Mini College next week. And still need to write the outline for the MEMOIR class I;m teaching too. The play will come later. We do need to get together tho – I enjoy just talking…

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