For a dying cat

My cat Snowy is dying.

My husband and I think she had a stroke because we discovered her laying in front of the dresser and occasionally meowing strangely last night. We don’t have an emergency vet here, so we have to wait till the vet opens at 8.

The next morning, she hasn’t moved, and she meows piteously when moved. She’s limp, except for her two front paws, which seem curled into themselves. Eventually, she doesn’t even meow, only breathes. Barely breathes.

I doubt there’s anything the vet can do. If she’s indeed had a stroke, the chances of her having another are high, and she may not recover from this one. As I’ve said, it’s highly likely we’ll say our goodbyes at the vet’s office.

I will remember Snowy as a peculiar cat. Black and long-haired with a white locket (we didn’t name her), she carried herself like a diva and sat with her front feet crossed daintily. She had a fascination with doors, and would paw at them trying to get to the other side. 

Soon, she will be on the other side of the door, where I am told she will climb a grassy hill to the Rainbow Bridge and wait for us. All pets go to the Rainbow Bridge, it is told, which makes it more charitable than the Christian view of Heaven. We, the humans, stay behind, taking care of our other cats, missing the presence of our Snowy.

Musing about the Rainbow Bridge

Right now, I’m sitting in bed coming down with something. A cold, the flu, my imagination — I’m not sure. I barely notice the clutter — the clothes racks that substitute for a closet, the pile of stuffed toys on the cedar chest, bins of summer clothes — but I do notice the round black-and-white cat who cleans herself at the foot of the bed. Stinkerbelle, after a long period of antisocial behavior, has settled into her second kittenhood at age 11, where she clings to me and occasionally cleans my face.

What does Stinkerbelle dream of? She’s a simple creature — she likely dreams of food. Lots of food. And enough petting that she actually gets tired of it. Maybe she dreams of playing, because her arthritic hips no longer will let her do so. They give her trouble merely walking, and jumping on the bed requires three tries now.

Maybe she contemplates the Rainbow Bridge. All pets go to the Rainbow Bridge when they die. When they cross the Bridge into the endless meadow, all their infirmities of life are somehow made irrelevant. They can run, they can play, they can see. The rain that bathes the plants somehow doesn’t drench their fur, so they can run in the raindrops.

At the Rainbow Bridge, they thrive until their owners come, and when we arrive, they remember us and escort us to the endless meadow. I wonder about the dogs and cats who were never adopted, and I’d like to think that some of us pet lovers would adopt them there.

Somehow, we owners think we’re going to Heaven or Hell and our pets think we’re going to the Rainbow Bridge to meet them. Maybe the Rainbow Bridge leads to Heaven. But remember — all pets go to heaven. Have we created in our imagination a better afterlife for pets than we have for ourselves?