Thursday 1 March 2007

Dead Pixel

It's been a right horrible day.

Early this morning, just after midnight, our cat , Pixel, sauntered back from his usual night prowl. I went to wipe his paws since it was wet out and quickly realised his face and paws were covered in blood. That wasn't a saunter; it was a crawl. He was a mess and was wheezing out his breath. He was in shock. Oh my god.

Panic ensued. We tried to wipe him up and make him comfortable but his jaw, teeth and tongue were hanging out at different angles. I called the emergency vet but would have to wait until the morning to get him into an animal hospital. I was distressed but hopeful. I figured he had been in a bad fight with another animal - something smaller than him. I figure it couldn't have been a car or he really would be shattered. He couldn't of met a dog or fox or he would have more injuries. My worst thought was that someone had kicked him.

We got him into the hospital by 9:15 in the morning. The vet quickly assessed he had been hit by car. She thought his internal organs were alright and if it was just the jaw, he should recover and learn a lesson. One life down, 8 left I thought feeling a bit relieved. He needed have an x-ray to double-check the fractures before having the operation to wire the jaw back together. Turns out a broken lower jaw is a common injury. Many cats survive getting hit by a car.

We got a call around noon with devastating news. The upper jaw was broken too. It's a rare fracture. Fixing it was very difficult and prone to complications - the brain and soft palate being very nearby. He might not be able to eat properly ever again. Recovery would be painful and take a long time. It was going to be expensive. Furthermore, it was clear that he had been hit very hard and there was a good chance there might be futher injuries.

One of those really horrible phone calls. She suggested we call her back in 5 minutes to tell her how to proceed.

Five minutes?

Five minutes to breakdown while Pixel lay on an operating table under anasthetic. We chose - I chose - euthanasia. It seemed the right choice at the moment. I choked the words when I called her back. Put him to sleep. She thought it was a good decision. I felt like shit. I still feel like shit. Killing a pet you love dearly. I could write tons about why he was a wonderful cat. When do you let go? He was only 19 months old. Maybe we should have struggled to nurse him back? Is that being selfish or generous?

At first we were going to let the hospital cremate and dispose of the remains but Jenny decided to bring him home. His body was still warm to the touch. I broke all composure at that. It really hurt.

Breaking the news to the children was difficult but they took it better than us adults. After some hugging and crying, we all stroked him and said our good-byes. Together, we buried him in the garden wrapped in a pillow case and planted flowers on the grave and marked it with a headstone.

He's gone. But I still catch myself checking the glass door where he would usually appear, asking to come inside.

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