Our Dying CatPeople will sometimes make fun of those who treat pets as a part of their family, as closely loved as any child.

Yet, the loss of a pet is a very real tragedy in most people’s lives, especially if the pet was a constant, faithful companion to them through a difficult period.

One of our cats, an 11-year-old Calico named Cali, is nearing the end of her life. Struck with chronic renal failure two years ago, we’ve been caring for her everyday with subcutaneous fluids therapy, the most common management of this disease. Unfortunately, in the past week, she took a turn for the worse and lost half her already thinning weight.

Cali is a part of our family, as much as any child or anyone else ever could be. Although I’ve only known her for 4 years, I know how much she has meant and been there for my wife during all of Cali’s life. Losing her is hard, and yet we’re coming to the time where we need to let her go. Just as you know when it’s time to say goodbye to a family member who’s been hospitalized, but is degrading, it’s the same with Cali.

Cali is an indoor cat, but we often let her go outside under watchful supervision. She likes to sit in the sun on our front porch, or feel the grass in her whiskers in the front yard. Today we took her outside to sit in the warm fall sun, while the dying fall leaves whirled around her. A gentle breeze ruffled her fur, and a butterfly fluttered through our last moments with her.

I sit here knowing that any minute, we’ll have to go to the vet to bring her to a peaceful end. My wife is upstairs, with Cali sleeping on her lap.

I don’t want to tell her it’s time.

I don’t want to say goodbye to our Cali.