Gabriel, R.I.P.

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On April Fool’s Day, a Monday, I took my cat Gabriel to the vet. In 48 hours, he’d had two bouts of incontinence, each time leaving a wet urine spot in my bed when he’d gotten up. An internet search on feline incontinence had been reassuring, so I was hopeful that a round of antibiotics would bring him back to normal.

But the doctor who could see him that day, a striking, stylish older woman who liked to be called “Dr. T,” a partner of Dr. Putter, the vet who’d handled Gabriel since he was a kitten, felt a mass which X-rays showed to be on or in his bladder.

On Wednesday, a sonogram showed the mass was so large that it left almost no room in Gabriel’s bladder for urine and was almost certainly bladder cancer. It’s rare in cats, and as typically happens in cats and dogs, by the time it was found, it was too extensive to be operated on.

Even though bladder cancers are slow-growing, their usual course is to block or so severely restrict the flow of urine that the pet dies either of kidney failure or a ruptured bladder, both of which are painful and take days rather than minutes or hours to kill. Gabriel’s incontinence was a sign that there was hardly any room left in his bladder.

Dr. Putter called the Animal Medical Center to see about non-surgical procedure that could help keep Gabriel’s bladder from backing up into his kidneys, since his bloodwork was showing renal failure. There were two options, both of which would cost over $10,000 and not buy much time. Dr. Putter had the good grace to shake his head over these ideas.

I’d never had to put down a pet before, yet this was pretty sure to be how Gabriel’s movie would end. My cat Blake, who died in 2016 of pulmonary cancer, had wasted away to under eight pounds before he declined rapidly in his last week. He went quickly on a Sunday morning, with a few minutes of panting followed by two piercing cries, which I assume was a heart attack.

I recoiled from the idea of ending Gabriel’s life without him being able to consent.

* * *

Gabriel exemplified what one little book on Abyssinians said about the breed: “They just want to be loved.” That was his charm. He so badly wanted to be petted, and regularly sought attention and affection, that in asking you to pretty please be nice to him, he was conveying that you were a good person for being kind to him. It didn’t come off as manipulative, in contrast to cartoons showing cat strategies for waking up their humans to get breakfast. He just wanted to be appreciated. And there are so few things in life today where you can do something simple, have it work, and feel gratified about what you did. Gabriel took it for granted that humans were considerate and wanted to be generous, even for something so minor as the needs of a little cat who was clear about what would make him happy.

I’d found Gabriel on the internet, from a breeder on the Canadian border. He was the only kitten in his litter, raised underfoot, and originally called Pogo for his tendency to stand up on his hind legs. His human parents drove him seven hours to New York City. Contrary to the advice for kittens, to let them settle in in a quiet spot with something soft to sleep on, I immediately opened the box in which he’d arrived in my living room. He bounded out, crying in confusion but also curious. He explored rather than hid. He was a tiny kitten; Dr Putter asked if I had gotten a miniature Abyssinian. He grew to be normal size, with a thick Canuk coat of fur, but retained his habit of getting up on his hind legs when he wanted a good look.

Blake was seven years older than Gabriel. I’d reluctantly given Blake away when I went to Australia in 2002, concluding it would be too hard on him to go though Australian immigration procedures. I got Blake back unexpectedly mere months after Gabriel arrived due to Blake’s owner getting engaged to a woman who wasn’t keen about cats.

Despite Blake being older and having lived in the apartment before, Gabriel was the alpha by virtue of being on premises. In their first encounter, the diminutive kitten Gabriel launched himself at a vastly bigger, very strong adult. Yet Blake turning tail apparently because he was supposed to under cat etiquette (Blake was no coward; he’d chased off adult men and in his old age took to terrorizing cleaning women).

The cats developed a complex arrangement of mini-territories, with some incursion tolerated. The big feature was Gabriel owned my desk area, while Blake had first dibs on the bed. The boys sometimes looked like a happy family, sitting or napping close to each other. But they also had dustups.

Gabriel liked petted above all else, even eating. Unlike most cats, he wouldn’t make a ruckus about mealtime, at most making a very polite plea if I wandered into the kitchen hours past when he should have been fed. He’d ask for cat treats in a similar understated manner, by going to the spot in the kitchen where I usually gave them to him and sitting there expectantly. And he was similarly polite about asking to be stroked. He’d often stare hopefully and start to purr, and pat the human with his left paw, claws retracted. He’d eagerly seek opportunities for being petting. For instance, after I took a bad fall, I’d do some stretches on the floor upon rising. Gabriel quickly worked out that this would be a great time to get attention. Not only would he tap me with his paw, he’d even nip my nose when I was supine.

He was easy to handle and didn’t mind wearing a harness, although the effort to train him to walk on a leash failed (unlike for my very first cat Winston, who did a pretty decent job for a cat) due to getting him too old to acclimate him to street noise. I also tried carrying him to Central Park a few times. Even though he very much enjoyed the visits proper, he got sufficiently worked up while I carried him to and fro as cars whizzed by that I stopped.

Gabriel’s doglike nature made him popular. For instance, most Abyssinians quickly work out that the vet is going to poke them or worse and are very difficult to handle. Gabriel never put up a fuss at the vet, to the astonishment of the staff. Similarly, in April, two workmen were in the apartment and Gabriel decided to check them out. One asked to pick him up, and Gabriel didn’t object to having a stranger get so familiar.

He was a prince, planting himself on a pillow whenever possible. After Blake died, one of Gabriel’s preferred spots was my pillow…when I was sleeping on it, with Gabriel managing to take over most of it. He didn’t like drinking out of bowls. He’d either try to get me to turn on a tap, a trick he’d learned from Blake, or would try to drink out of water glasses.

Gabriel had a rich vocabulary of cries. While not as chatty as a Siamese, he was more vocal than a typical Abyssinian, often making little chirps or plaintive bleats. He had one meow that was a query, a “Where are you?” either to confirm that I was in or tell him where to find me. Another was a excited chirr he used only when engaged in the futile exercise of racing after moths flying around the ceiling.

I was still not happy that Gabriel had successfully reduced Blake to being a second class citizen, for instance, chasing Blake aggressively when Blake would dare to come to my desk, not seeing that Gabriel was lounging atop. Gabriel appeared to understand that Blake was my favorite; he seemed jealous of the attention Blake would get. If so, Gabriel had good grounds for being resentful because Gabriel was also an exceptional cat, sweet, even tempered, extremely agreeable. Needless to say, Gabriel didn’t miss Blake when he died.

But Gabriel finally got the life he was intended to have and one that was better suited to his temperament, that of being the sole cat. He got the run of the apartment, which meant he could ask me to pet him when I was sleeping and usually get some scratching. He got to be good at opening the door of two large armoires, mainly for the hell of it. He’d occasionally sleep in a sock drawer, as Blake had. And he continued his old tricks, like sticking his paw in the hand held shower water if I opened the shower door and held it close enough to a counter near the tub for him to swat it.

But he was also more obedient than Blake had been. I finally got scratching posts high enough for him to get  a good stretch, and he never scratched anything else. He didn’t care for darting out in the corridor. And he understood a few commands, like “Not in here!” when barfing up hairballs. But he couldn’t be trained out of trying to drink out of water glasses on my desk unless I told him “No.”

* * *

After learning the bad news, I was giving liquid antibiotics to Gabriel to tame a bladder infection and taking him in, first every third day or so, to be hydrated and administered meds to help tamp down his nausea so he could eat. The first go was a great success: Gabriel ate at a nearly normal level for two days. After that, he would perk up and eat more than otherwise…but still way less than normal.

Dr. Putter warned that Gabriel was already in a grey zone as far as euthanizing him was concerned; he was likely to die badly if I let nature run its course, and thought Gabriel had only days to weeks.

Even though Gabriel seemed to be his usual self, except for the not eating enough and leaking urine when he got up after sitting or lying down (he was very good about sitting or lying on towels I’d put out in his preferred spots). He was also seeking out hot places in the apartment, like a spot in the bathroom next to the steam pipes, which I turned into a sick bed by putting towels there, and next to a space hearer, which I turned on regularly.

But it turned out Gabriel had a life or two in reserve.

Barely a week after I’d gotten the bad news, Gabriel had been subdued for two days, and I worried that he was in pain.

I had set for him to be euthanized on April 10, a Wednesday, at home. The visit to the vet’s office the day before had been a train wreck. His time was usually quiet, but that day, a woman and two toddlers were there, with the vets downstairs handling her emergency….a dog that had eaten 75 pieces of gum. Then two Schnauzers came in, barking loudly and one jumped Gabriel’s carrier even though it was on my lap. I got the receptionist to put us in one of the exam rooms. but Gabriel had already been stressed by then.

When we got home, he ate only a few Greenies, drank some water, got on my bed for a few minutes, but soon repaired to his bathroom spot. He refused more food, didn’t get up to drink wouldn’t drink out of a little glass, and wouldn’t purr when scratched.

But at 4:00 AM, he strolled out to my desk and asked to be petted, used his scratching post, ate a bit, and when I went to bed, demanded more attention. I was crying, thinking Gabriel was allowing me to say goodbye to him. He even ate a bit.

But about 45 minutes before the vet was due to arrive, Gabriel hid in the closet. He never hides in the closet. I called Dr. Putter and told him Gabriel didn’t want to go yet.

I was greatly relieved and amused that whether by accident or design, Gabriel had played me. He’d got hours of attention as I petted him, blubbering about what a good cat he was, how I loved him, how sorry I was that I couldn’t help him and how terribly I’d miss him, and then he got a stay of execution.

After that, most of the time I managed to put out of my mind that Gabriel was dying. I still took him to the vet two or three times a week for meds to get him to eat more. I began wondering if he might last long enough to be at risk of dying of starvation rather than of urinary complications.

But the Saturday evening before last, Gabriel started crying when trying to use his litter box with no success. I called the vet’s emergency service, and after a couple of hours of Gabriel seeming more and more desperate, I brought him in on a Sunday wee AM.

The staff at the Veterinary Emergency Group was superb (and not even expensive). They had me in the exam room with Gabriel as they did a sonogram with him flipped on his back. It turned out he’d lost even more weight than I’d thought, going from about 9 1/2 pounds to just over eight pound in a month. His bladder was normal size but they thought the cancer was blocking the urethra.

I authorized having the doctor insert a needle to drain the bladder (Gabriel lived up to his perfect patient reputation, only twitching his tail), knowing he’d be back where he was in 12 hours, and that I was only buying time to say goodbye and hopefully get him euthanized at home. The doctor gave me the names of vets that had “home visit only” practices and might do a euthanasia on a Sunday.

The Veterinary Emergency Group had also e-mailed Dr. Putter, who called around 10:00 AM. He said he could come by in the early afternoon to put Gabriel to sleep. I again lavished attention on Gabriel, including using a Thumper on him, something he’d figured out to ask me to do by sitting next to me and patting me with his paw.

But I noticed two fresh towels that I had put out just before Gabriel suffered his litter box crisis had fresh urine spots on them. What tipped the decision was that about a half hour before Dr. Putter was to arrive, I went to move Gabriel’s carrier.

Gabriel ran and hid under the daybed, something he rarely does.

I called Dr. Putter and told him Gabriel was urinating again and didn’t want to go yet.

Gabriel went back to his new normal, not eating enough and having bladder control problems but otherwise up to routine cat things, like using his scratching post regularly, playing with dental floss, hopping up on my lap when I was working to get a cat massage, and sunning on the window sill.

I thought he needed special minding while I was set to be away for a bit over 48 hours at the Milwaukee and Minneapolis meetups. Alex, a veterinary nurse from Dr. Putter’s practice who would do home visits and overnights was initially leery, since Gabriel could go into crisis while I was gone. But when she came by for me to show her where things were, she saw his behavior and said she wasn’t very worried, he seemed to be in good shape. And indeed, he was fine while I was away.

But Gabriel’s gums had been bothering him off and on for a while, and that became acute on Tuesday. I suspected he had an infection that the antibiotics for his bladder had tamped down. He would paw at his mouth, sometimes violently, when he tried drinking or eating.

Wednesday morning, Gabriel had another episode of distress about not using his box (which led to panic that I needed to put him down pronto), which abated after a half hour when he managed to leak on towels again. But he wasn’t the same cat. He remained in one of his two sick beds most of the day. He didn’t use his scratching post. And he even had a pained look on his face.

Dr. Putter said he could come by at 6:30 PM. I debated whether to wait until the following early afternoon, and decided that Gabriel didn’t seem like he’d enjoy the additional time.

About an hour before Dr. Putter arrived, Gabriel emerged and sat on my lap. I petted him, scratched him, praised him, and cried, but I could’t get him to purr. He stayed there until I had to move him when the doorman buzzed for Dr. Putter and Alex.

So Gabriel managed to give me what I needed most, his consent. He didn’t try to escape or flinch when Dr. Putter injected the sedative prior to the shot that ended his life.

* * *

March 2005

April 3, 2019

Gabriel, December 3, 2004 – May 9, 2019

A good friend

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131 comments

  1. Ignacio

    Very sensible helping Gabriel pass away without pain. Why many still consider this sinful when applied to humans is beyond my comprehension.

    Writing and thinking of our beloved is the best therapy for us that remain in this valley of tears. 14 years of good kitty life leaves many prints to remember.

    Reply
  2. oaf

    …Sympathies on your loss…they are very much children to those of us who love the animals in our care.

    Reply
  3. PlutoniumKun

    That’s very moving, thank you for sharing that Yves.

    I’m quite certain you gave Gabriel a wonderful happy life.

    Reply
  4. The Rev Kev

    So sorry to hear about Gabriel. It was a long time coming and some cats are just fighters to the end. It isn’t many cats that get such a fine obituary to their name and Gabriel is at peace now. R.I.P.

    Reply
  5. Reader

    Yves I’m so sorry to hear of Gabriel’s passing. He sounds like a special kind of guy with an endearing personality. Losing a faithful feline companion can be so wrenching but he’ll always be in your heart. I hope with your moving preparations that you can find some time to do something nice for yourself.

    Reply
  6. rstringfellow

    Very sorry for your loss. Thank you for honoring and sharing this with us. He was well loved. You were a good friend. You were lucky to have each other.

    Reply
  7. Eclair

    “Sorry for your troubles.”

    This is the phrase my Irish-American grandmother’s family would murmur softly to the bereaved at the many wakes I attended as a child. As if death were simply one more of the many afflictions and disappointments that run through our lives. As it is. The final indignity.

    But, then the big people would bring out the whiskey bottle, pour everyone a wee dram, and raise their glasses, “To Gabriel, the best of cats!” And spend the evening retelling the stories, “Remember how he would stand up on his hind legs, when he wanted a good look! Oh, he was a lovely cat!”

    So, Yves, sorry for your troubles. And, this evening I will raise a glass to Gabriel, that lovely cat.

    Reply
  8. larry

    Your comments on Gabriel and his life are very moving. Very heartfelt. I am so sorry that you and he had to go through this, but you and his vet helped him out of his life in probably the best way possible, with compassion and love. No one could have done more.

    Reply
  9. Pat

    My deepest sympathies. A lovely eulogy for a remarkable friend, it also shows that Gabriel had an equally remarkable human.

    Reply
  10. Collapsar

    Terribly sorry to read about Gabriel’s passing. I’m glad he was able to find a life-long home with a companion as dedicated to his well being and comfort as you clearly were. That was a well written tribute to him.

    Reply
  11. skippy

    We all have a shelf life … what we do with it defines whom we are… not just to ourselves but those that are effected by it.

    YS throughout the exchange you were exemplar, as they were, rather than morn one should embrace the sharing that was had considering the life spans of those involved and the care all exhibited.

    Sometimes pain has a hidden glory of its own …

    Reply
  12. Jack

    It is always very difficult when you lose a pet you love. A member of the family has gone away. My condolences for your loss.

    Reply
  13. Democrita

    Oh, Yves, I am weeping away on the Long Island railroad, and will show up at work red-eyed and splotchy.

    So sorry for your loss, so moved by your tribute. I can only hope my loved ones treat me with such tender love when it’s my turn.

    Reply
  14. ex-PFC Chuck

    My condolences for Gabriel’s passing. And what a loving and respectful memoir of his life.
    Chuck

    Reply
  15. David

    At peace under this mandarin, sleep, Lucina
    Blue-eyed queen of white cats
    For you the Ischian wave
    Shall weep
    When we who now miss you
    Are American dust
    And steep Epomeo in peace and war
    Augustly a grave-watch keep.
    WH Auden

    Reply
  16. Eduardo

    Condolences. I am so sorry.

    I’m glad to hear that you were both ready and Gabriel was able to leave with some dignity.

    When my time comes I know I’d like that.

    Reply
  17. lupemax

    the most difficult part of loving an animal who is a family member is having to say goodbye. Their lives are too short. Deepest sympathy. Gabriel is over the rainbow bridge. You will meet up with him again someday too.

    Reply
  18. James O'Keefe

    Gabriel sounds like a very good friend. I am glad you two gave joy to each other. Very sorry he is no longer with you. Thank you for telling us about him.

    Reply
  19. Brooklin Bridge

    So deeply sorry. Oh that visit to the vet! There is just nothing that can be done to avoid it, but the hurt is awful no matter what you do.

    Reply
  20. Kokuanani

    Everyone here has said what I would say, and better than I can say it.

    No advice; just memories.

    Best to you.

    Reply
  21. Daniel Raphael

    I recommended your heartfelt post to my best friend, a lifelong catmom in Vermont, who has always had a cat, always a rescue. Thank you for caring for another being not human; let’s hope that caring is contagious.

    Reply
  22. Jackson

    So sorry for your loss. Gabriel must have been an extraordinary cat. I am crying as I write this. Take time to reflect on all of the good times. Make sure you take care of yourself while you deal with your grief.

    Reply
  23. JCC

    Sorry for your troubles.

    As a friend said to me when I had to take my first long term housemate/cat to the Vet to be put down last year, “If there wasn’t so much love between you two, it wouldn’t hurt as much as it does.”.

    Your eulogy reminds me too much of that love, and loss, and what great companions all good cats can be.

    I’ll be raising a glass to my KK, your Gabe and Blake, and all the rest of the good ones tonight.

    Reply
  24. Lunker Walleye

    I’m so sorry, Yves. It is difficult to lose an animal, especially one as special as Gabriel. Thank you for writing about him.

    Reply
  25. MikeW_CA

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Yves. I am thankful for the love Gabriel gave you over the years.

    Reply
  26. Juneau

    I am sorry to hear about your loss. Thank you for sharing this with us. Gabriel sounds like a lovely soul..

    Reply
  27. flaesq

    Through your post I feel as if I’d met Gabriel. I will think of you both today, and return to the post later over the weekend, all while trying to send good vibes up that way.

    Reply
  28. crittermom

    Thank you for sharing that loving tribute to such a (handsome!) gentle soul as Gabriel, who shared and enriched your life for so many years.
    And thank you for being such an incredible companion to that beautiful creature. He was very fortunate, as well, to have you.

    As I shed tears over your loss, my own two beloved feline ‘blanket weights’ have snuggled beside me as they sense my sorrow.
    Gabriel’s memory will live on in many hearts.

    My deepest condolences.

    Reply
  29. Peter

    I believe Gabriel appreciates your understanding his message that he was ready to go. It is such a hard message to accept.

    Reply
  30. monday1929

    Gabriel was clearly a very very good boy who deserved all the love and care you provided for him until the end. He was lucky to have you and seemed to know that.

    Reply
  31. Jenny

    What a wonderful, sweet cat. It sounds like you gave him the perfect home and care and a worthy tribute here. So sorry for your loss.

    Reply
  32. michael hudson

    It brought tears to my eyes as it reminded me of what I had to do with my pet. What made it worst as a teenager was that the vet asked me to hold the paw out for the injection, making me complicit even though I knew that it had to be done to cure Mitzi’s pain.

    Reply
  33. ForFawkesSakes

    I am deeply sorry for the loss of your really beautiful companion. Thank you for sharing such a lovely tribute to your friend.

    Reply
  34. Olga

    A wonderful essay, Yves.
    In time, you’ll re-read it and will cry and smile – and Gabriel will be with you.
    Let his resting place be a soft cloud of cotton.

    Reply
  35. freedomny

    Losing a pet companion is so painful and Gabriel sounds especially wonderful. I’m glad that you got extra time with him and that his passing was peaceful and loving.

    Reply
  36. Carrie

    A very moving tribute to your good friend. Empathy between humans and animals is to be valued – and clearly, Gabriel felt so too.

    RIP Gabriel

    Reply
  37. John Zelnicker

    Yves – I am so sorry for your loss.

    Few things are as difficult and heartbreaking as what you have gone through. (I’ve had to do it a few times over the years.)

    May Gabriel’s name be for a blessing.

    Shalom.

    Reply
  38. Black Beauty

    What an utterly beautiful creature. Thank you so much for sharing this very personal, loving and painful account, it is hard! Many of us appreciate how difficult this is to let go, we are their stewards, and they are our family. Bawling my eyes out. Please take care of yourself and sending support for some relief and hope for your healing. You handled it all exactly right.

    Reply
  39. Mark Anderlik

    Yves, please accept my condolences for your loss. I have been in a similar situation and it is not easy. You did the loving thing for Gabriel.

    Reply
  40. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Rest in peace, Gabriel. You’ll be missed by those who have known you.

    Any one of us who had to make similar decisions know it is not an easy one; we hope we helped.

    Reply
  41. Susan the other`

    Now I can’t swallow. But I love Gabriel’s tenacity – hiding not once but twice. Beautiful, sleek little creature. I hope this doesn’t leave you cat-less. Ask your mom if you can have one in Alabama – like being 5 all over again :-)

    Reply
  42. Elizabeth

    Yves, I’m so sorry for your loss of Gabriel. He was a beautiful cat, and thank you for such a loving tribute to him. This is a heartbreaking time for you, but just reflect on all the wonderful memories you have of him. You both gave each other joy and love.

    Reply
  43. marieann

    I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for Gabriel’s story. He knew he was loved

    May the goddess guard him
    May he find his way to the Summerlands
    May his human companions know peace

    Reply
  44. barefoot charley

    It’s so hard. And a blessing that you got a clear message from Gabriel that the time had come.

    Reply
  45. JHG

    Yves, Please accept my condolences on the loss of your cat. It is very difficult to make the final decision but sometimes it is for the best. I have had to make that decision for our old dog, and my horse who was badly injured in an accident. They are not just pets, they are beloved friends and family. Peace.

    Reply
    1. Barry Hubbard

      I am sorry for your loss. Someone said it is hard to loose a pet because they are so innocent, kind and loyal. Qualities we humans sometimes lack.

      Reply
  46. Howard Browne

    From Howard,
    I know exactly how you feel in losing a pet. My wife and I had four Shih-Tzu’s over thirty years; they were part of our family. And I wanted them to live 80 years old: they did in dog years. We also had to make a medical decision for three of them, it was very tough but I did not want to see them suffer.

    My sympathies to you.

    Reply
  47. Francine McKenna

    Dear Y,

    So sorry for your loss and the pain that goes with not knowing for sure what they think and how they feel. I’ve had the blessing of saying goodbye naturally to two big Rotties,my Rosie who I had for 11 years from pup and Bear who I took in for one last good year at 12 after his carer went to a nursing home. Both died in my arms peacefully with not much trauma or tribulation. I, too, dreaded the idea of actively saying goodbye but it seems you gave Gabriel and yourself the long goodbye you needed and more than you expected. Francine

    Reply
  48. Wukchumni

    I fell asleep this morning with Gracie-our Abyssinian, on my lap, where she purred contentedly for a few hours perhaps?

    Sorry for your loss, cats are wonderful companions and I sometimes wonder if we’re worthy of them?

    Reply
  49. Big River Bandido

    Yves, this is very sad, but also a beautiful testimony to your good friend. Sorry especially that you are having to say goodbye to an old friend at the same time as your move. Or perhaps it was better that if Gabriel had to go, that he went now, before the additional trauma of a move. Perhaps he even sensed something was in the works.

    Wishing you peace.

    Reply
  50. CaptainPoptart

    My deepest sympathies, Yves. I can honestly say I can feel your pain as I just had to put down my 14 year old maine coon. She had a nasal tumor that spread quickly and for which we weren’t prepared. But no time for it is right, and I only wish I could write as eloquently as you do about it. The pain is still too close. But know that you did the right thing by Gabe as we did our Kyra.

    Reply
  51. WestcoastDeplorable

    So sorry to hear of Gabriel’s passing. We have two kitties we rescued 16 years ago and dread the day we’ll have to say goodbye. You did the right thing by letting him go.

    Reply
  52. Another Anon

    Dear Yves,

    My condolences for your loss. I can understand your grief for I had to do the same for two beloved pets. Their lives are but a miniature version of ours, brief
    sparks between two unfathomable infinities.

    Reply
  53. urdsama

    I have no words for how sad this is and the depth of your loss. This was a very eloquent post and a fitting tribute to Gabriel and his memory.

    My deepest condolences.

    Reply
  54. Alex Cox

    Condolences, dear Yves.
    When our old dog Gray died we went so crazy we adopted two dogs to replace him. They can’t, of course. But they are great dogs.
    Another amazing animal awaits you!

    Reply
  55. ChristopherJ

    Good of you to write and share, dear S

    Shows what a good person you are

    Really is end of an era for you. A new chapter awaits

    Reply
  56. Tbone

    Thank you for sharing this, the love that shines through every word of your tribute may help others to deal with their grief. It helped me to remember that doing the right thing is a kindness, and the resolve to do so is only made possible by unconditional love that exists beyond any and all boundaries.

    Reply
  57. petal

    Yves, I’m so sorry. I was crying at my desk reading and had to stop a few times. Each one of them makes an indelible mark on us. It’s so hard when they leave-such a giant hole remains. Sending warm thoughts.

    Reply
  58. rtah100

    Dear Yves,

    A grand-looking cat and a grand eulogy.

    If you have not read it before, you may wish to track down “Charles, the story of a friendship” by Michael Joseph. He was the very proper founder of a publishing house and Charles was his idolised siamese cat. The excellent epilogue is “For while I live, you shall not die.”.

    Reply
  59. Ptb

    They’re truly magical creatures, as was Gabriel, no doubt. So sorry to hear this. My condolences..

    Reply
  60. fnx

    So sorry for your loss! It’s never easy understanding the right moment and a very difficult decision to make at all.

    Reply
  61. Randy

    I read your tribute to Gabriel and tears welled up. I sent the link to my wife and she cried.

    The best way to get over your grief is to get Gabriel II. I hope you can recover and your life situation allows you do this sooner rather than later.

    Reply
  62. John Beech

    Very sorry for your loss, Susan. Sadly there are those amongst us who don’t understand the attachment to a cat. I (we) definitely do. You were brave in how you handled it. Good girl.

    Reply
  63. stillfeelintheberninwi

    Thank you so much for writing this. What a magnificent tribute to the happiness Gabriel brought to the world. I heard something on the radio this morning, that I shall think of every time a love one is lost. Grief=Love, you don’t get one without the other. Thinking of you and looking up tonight for that star in the sky that is Gabrielle.

    Reply
  64. Kate Marchetti

    Although we have three cats of our own, I have never seen a cuter kitty than your Gabriel. Even in his recent picture, he still seems such a boy. He shines through your pictues and words. In time I’m sure all his inimitable ways will be remembered with pleasure and much to your comfort.

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  65. Jen

    Yves, you and Gabriel have been in my thoughts these past few weeks. Gave my 17 year old feline an extra cuddle this morning, and here she is, trying to curl up on the laptop as I type this. May your sorrow that he’s gone be tempered with the gratitude that he was.

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  66. Paleobotanist

    Gabriel has taken the path of the dead (the Milky Way) to the stars now.
    He had a good life. Another cat will be needing you to take him/her in when the time is right.
    I know that nothing helps the pain now. It is the price of love.

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  67. orlbucfan

    Hoo boy, what can anyone say? What a beautiful cat, and I am a dawg human. Deepest sympathies, Yves. I’ve made that heartbreaking decision, too. Consoled myself with the realization that the pain in my heart came from love. Take good care of yourself–Gabriel/Blake would expect nothing less from you. Peace.

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  68. David in Santa Cruz

    As you know, we lost our Maine Coon Cat of almost 20 years, Oona, in March. She was starting to really suffer, so we helped ease her passing. There’s such a void now, Blessings to you.

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  69. Hayek's Heelbiter

    What a beautiful account! Brought back so many memories of Pansypuss Regina (who would jump into a box on command and roll on her back if you said, “Poozle!”), and her son, Fredipuss Rex.

    What struck me the most, however, was the resonance of the subtext of your post with the essence of NC – once all the numbers and analysis have been scraped away, what remains fundamentally at the website’s core is love and compassion for our fellow beings and fellow creatures.

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  70. Balakirev

    A beautiful cat. We had 5–3 from a month old, each, and then 2 more after the last of that group died. Each was a unique individual, and loved. They still are missed.

    My condolences on your loss.

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  71. mtnwoman

    I’m so sorry for your lost of your beloved.

    I know it hurts and that you miss him terribly.

    You were a very good mama to you kitty boy.

    May your heart find peace.

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  72. Xihuitl

    Profound condolences. It’s very painful, I know. They do seem to stay around for a few days, though.

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  73. James Miller

    It’s four fifty in the morning and I just had a snuggle with my friend Foxworthy. I take courage from your account, while my heart cries for your pain. My cat and I face the same fate soon.

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    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Oh, I’m so sorry. I hope you get a clear sign that he’s (he?) is ready. One advantage I had being in Manhattan is that (as the post indicated) there are vets who will come to your home, even on weekends, so that allowed me not to have to do it early (if they have a condition that can lead to a traumatic ending, too early is better for them but very hard on their human, as you have probably already worked out). I wish you and Foxworthy the best.

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  74. Martha

    Thank you for sharing the lives of your little cat family. Now your beloved Blake and Gabriel will live on in our hearts too.

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  75. Kevin

    Yves, I enjoyed every word of your story of Gabriel. Our beloved cat friends are such a gift and so precious. I had tears in my eyes at the end of it, and yet everything seemed to be graciously orchestrated for you and Gabriel. My wife and I have had to depart in this way with many cats over the years. It’s never become any easier, though we marvel each time at the grace that seems to make up for the things one cannot do one’s self. Even though I’ve loved them all, I’ve found that some cats get to be more a part of one’s heart than others. I had a special cat named Yeshi who suddenly entered a terminal event on Christmas day 7 years ago, and we had to put him down the next day after intensive efforts to find a way to save him. His gull bladder was blocked and there was no way to repair it that we could afford. It was also late in the day, we didn’t know if we could get him to a surgeon, and he was running out of time. He was one of the closest, most faithful and loving friends I’ve ever had, animal or human. Parting with him was a significant lifetime event. He was a magical being, a taoist sage among cats, and an inspiration to me. The soul of a cat is no different than the soul of a human. Every life is sacred and unique. Yeshi came to us as an all-ginger kitten with a tiny high pitched meow. He showed up suddenly just behind me while I was collecting firewood from our woodshed, and he had come from the woods around our home on Christmas day 1998. He departed on the day after Christmas 2012. After he arrived, the rest of his family appeared within a short time. They included a duplicate of him (an adult male), a calico female, and a completely black female sibling of Yeshi. Apparently, seeing that we had accepted their emissary, they all decided to move in and they quickly became part of our household, for many years. They were each charming, sweet, and dear to us.

    Reply

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