Yesterday evening Em El and I made the decision to release Fiznit from the bonds of her cancer. On Friday she had received chemotherapy, but did not seem to be responding to the treatment. Two and a half weeks earlier she had undergone surgery to remove one of her front legs and her spleen, both of which were riddled with cancer. She had been recovering well until early last week when she stopped eating and began getting sick to her stomach. A blood test revealed that mast cells had returned in force. The chemo she received on Friday was her last option for a solid recovery. Unfortunately the cancer was too strong, and with the sensitive guidance of Fiznit’s internist, we chose to relieve her suffering for good.
We like to think that Fiznit is now reunited with her beloved brother Scratchy, her constant companion from birth until age 11, when he died suddenly of a heart attack. I like to picture them ecstatically rolling around together in a sunny celestial catnip patch of the richest shade of green.
It’s poignant how when you live with an animal for so long, their passing represents more than just the departure of a dear friend and family member. Both Scratchy and Fiznit were with me for much of my adult life up to this point. Now that Fiznit is gone, I feel like an entire era has ended. We often think of the closure of time periods in our lives as marked by events like graduations, leaving jobs, moving to new places, and sadly, the ending of relationships. But often our companion animals are a constant in our lives over the course of the opening and closing of many such time periods. Sometimes they are one of the few or even the only constant. They provide us with comfort, stability, and a warm familiarity that may otherwise be lacking.
I personally have experienced much pain and joy throughout the lives of both Fiznit and Scratchy. They were always there to remind me of the good times, though, and help keep me from dwelling on the bad. I can’t help feeling now, beyond just grief at Fiznit’s death, a deeper ache at the severing of this living tie to my past. She was with me through so much, and her departure leaves a hole of such depth that it may not ever completely close.
Fiznit was a special cat, very much an individualist. Although she lived for a long time in the shadow of her larger-than-life brother, after he died she stepped forward and really came into her own. She became much more outgoing and seemed to relish her life as the only cat (and pet) in the household. Although we talked about trying to find a companion for her, we felt that ultimately Fiznit wanted things to stay as they were. After all, no cat could ever replace Scratchy and she probably knew that.
Fiznit won over all the staff at the excellent referral clinic where she spent much of her final week. Her fighting spirit and persistent sass even when she was feeling down heartened those who were caring for her. We all know how horrible cancer can be, though, and in the end we felt we had no choice but to step in and help her surrender what had become a losing battle. Although we will continue grieving for some time to come, we also feel relief that her suffering has now ended. Rest in peace, little Fizz. You will always be loved.