Yesterday I wrote a long post about Yeats, my kitten, and how determined I was to keep him.
Today, I am writing to explain why, ultimately, I had to give him up.
I didn't know when he was sick when I adopted him -- to be fair to the shelter, I don't think they realized that he was a very sick little guy either -- but I think I would have wanted to adopt him if I had known. I would have WANTED to, but I probably wouldn't have. I probably would have asked them to call me when he was ready to try out a new home, because then that new home (mine) would have been ready for him.
As it was, I wasn't ready.
I was prepared for the things that come with a new animal -- the stuff where your established pets are cranky and feel displaced, where you have to rearrange your schedule for the new guy, where the routines that you follow are reinvented. I was ready for all of those things, and for the good stuff too -- the random snugglies on the couch, the look of complete joy when a belly was rubbed, and the happy purring.
I was ready for all of those things. I just wasn't ready for the "Oh my God, he's so sick, it's 3 AM and the kitten I've had for 14 hours has peed blood in my kitchen sink and then tracking blood through the house and I don't know what to do right now." I wasn't ready for my couch also to be covered with blood and for the kitten to be laying there like a limp orange rag, looking at me with big amber eyes that said "please, you're the human, make this right."
I did what I could. We went to the vet. We got the cone that he already should have had. We got the meds. "He should be better tomorrow," the vet said. "Keep the cone on -- between the infection at the neuter site and the UTI, the antibiotic will make him as good as new."
While we were talking, the cat in the carrier was escaping from the collar -- I didn't realize until I got home. I never was able to get it back on him.
I gave him his drugs and then I had to work -- which was an exercise in futility, as I was really running after him, trying to keep him from peeing on things. ("It's because he's in pain," the vet said, "And he has to go but he doesn't understand that it's not the litter box that's causing the pain.") When I wasn't catching him just before he went, I was catching him just after. Since he was going every 10 minutes or so? It was a lot of running around. Then I had to make sure he didn't lick or bite at the infected incisions since, hi, no cone.
When neither of those things were happening? He would nuzzle up in my lap and go to sleep. Honestly, it broke my heart. It breaks it now to type this. He is the sweetest, sweetest thing, this cat. He's going to be a fabulous addition to someone's home.
It just couldn't be mine. It was when I came out of the office and found him peeing on the couch for LITERALLY the 20th time that I knew it couldn't be my home. I knew because I saw him doing it, and he saw me see him, and I started to cry because we were both so completely miserable. I was making him miserable with the constant "No! No! DON'T PEE ON THAT!" and "No! No! Don't lick there!" and he was making me miserable with the same things.
I realized then I couldn't be a good pet mom to him. It was too much.
I read this now and I think maybe it sounds petty to you if you haven't had this experience, but I seriously felt like I couldn't do it for another moment, and that if I continued to, it wouldn't be beneficial to the little guy. He needed -- he deserved -- a better mom than me. One who wasn't completely stressed out at every moment. One who could devote the time to his sick little self.
So I gave him back. I cried all the way to the shelter, I cried at the shelter, and I cried when I left the shelter. I really hope he gets better. I hope someone with a big big house and lots of kitty treats and who loves to snuggle adopts him and he can run around and play with them.
I also hope that, in time, I'll forgive myself. Because even though it absolutely was the right thing to do, it still felt like one of the most awful things I've ever done. Ever.
(In case you're concerned -- the shelter is NOT going to put him down. Just so you know.)