Saying farewell to animal companions

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By Jonna Spelbring Priester

It’s been two months, but it’s taken me that long to get to a point where I could write about it.

On Feb. 19, I said goodbye to my faithful feline friend of 13.5 years.
Mickey had been sick for some time, and seriously so for three weeks.
On Valentine’s Day, we learned the reason for his off-and-on cough — he had lung cancer, and he had it pretty bad.

Neither surgery nor chemotherapy would help with the tumors in his lungs. Tumors that were causing fluid to build up in his chest, making his breathing labored. They also were tumors that apparently made it almost impossible for him to swallow.

There was little we could do other than to make his final days comfortable. That meant all the tuna fish, canned food and cheese he would eat, plus tummy rubs, lap time and trips outside to chew on grass.
But he had trouble keeping anything down, even water, in the last couple days.

So in one of the more gut-wrenching decisions I’ve ever made, on the morning of Feb. 19, we said our goodbyes, and had the cat we’d come to nickname The Senor put to sleep.

The cat who spent his first night with me tucked in against my neck, left this world in my lap, wrapped in a soft, purple blanket.
It never ceases to amaze me the sway that a 10-pound cat or dog can hold over a human being.

The companionship animals provide us is unparalleled, and I have always considered it a blessing to be able to care for them.
Included among the biggest responsibilities of that blessing, though, are making sure they’re spayed or neutered and making sure they don’t suffer needlessly.

Mickey taught us valuable lessons over the years, including the importance of letting your inner kitten out to play every so often, not taking a dog tail to the face too personally and the importance of greeting those you love at the door when they come home.
And most importantly - he, and all cats, teach us to value simplicity: good food, good naps and good friends.