Thursday, May 14, 2009

One Last Purrr

The Hobo Philosopher

One Last Purrr

By Richard E. Noble

When I was a kid I made only one trip to the Vet. I had a dog named Rex that had to be “put to sleep.”

The dog got sick and died because it didn’t get its shots, the Vet said. My dad didn’t say anything. He was standing right there next to me. Did he know that a puppy had to have shots or it might die from “distemper”?

I’m sure he did, but he didn’t have enough money. So why did he let me have a dog? Because I begged and begged and begged.

There were times that we didn’t have money for the rent. Why would we be wasting money on shots for dogs?

No money … it is worse than a disease.

When my wife and I moved into our first apartment my niece gave us our first cat. From that time on we have always had a cat as a pet. There were times when we didn’t have much money. Our cats have had a lot of close calls. If they got sick they had to tough it out.

We came to Eastpoint and prospered. By many people’s standards we didn’t prosper all that much. But by our standards we did well. Now that we are growing old and even though we have more money than we have ever had in our lives – it is not enough. We are back to pinching pennies and doing without.

I remember eating with an older friend and some other folks in a restaurant one evening. One of the diners at our table complained that his meat was tough. My old buddy laughed and said, “It’s tougher when you ain’t got any.” That’s right.

Up until the other day we had four cats – sometimes we have had as many as seven. They have all been strays. We live on the outside of town and people drop off their unwanted animals in our area. When we first settled here there was no humane society – there was us and the city dump.

There was always a Vet in Eastpoint. But over the years things have just gotten more and more expensive. Through no fault of his own, pet health care has skyrocketed just like people health care.

Between wellness exams, flea treatments and health smart pet food, we’re talking money, now.
Because of the current economic situation, creeping living costs, and our personal health expenses, the cats are back to being backdoor strays once again.

They will stay healthy or they will die.

Last week we brought one of our cats down to the Vet to be put to sleep. He could have lived longer but we couldn’t afford the treatment.

I read that many people are in the same situation. People are dropping pets off at the shelters – even some pedigrees. Oprah can’t understand it. She shakes her head and rolls her eyes. How could anyone stop caring for their pet?

We will not be adopting any new pets. We have three kitties left. One is 15 years old. The one we just put to sleep was about 15 years old also. It hurts, to look into their trusting eyes and know that you are not doing right by them.

I think of my dad standing next to me at the Vet’s office and listening to the Vet explain that the reason Rex died was because he didn’t get his basic shots. My father didn’t apologize to me or the dog.

For two weeks before I took Sallie’s Cat to be put to sleep at the Vet’s office, I kept apologizing. I kept hugging him and holding him, and hoping that he would purr for me. He always purred. He purred so loudly that the Vet could hardly hear his heart beating through his stethoscope.

But old Sallie’s Cat just couldn’t purr for me. I thought if he would just purr a little that would be a sign that there was no hard feelings. But he wouldn’t purr.

I feed him by hand with a syringe for his last three or four days. He wouldn’t drink and he wouldn’t eat on his own. I took him for walks around the yard. He cooperated with me for those last days but then refused to even swallow. It was time. He was emaciated. I called the vet's office but I couldn't speak. I finnaly choaked out the bad news and made an appointment.

I couldn’t find the heart to put him into his carrying cage when the hour arrived. I carried him out to the car. I placed him on the seat next to me. He didn’t make a sound. I backed out of the yard and started down the road.

Suddenly I heard a rumbling noise. I thought he was choking. I reached over and put my hand on his side to comfort him. He was purring so hard his ribs were rattling. I couldn’t believe it. He had stopped purring weeks ago. I had held him up to my ear every day to listen – but nothing.

He purred all the way to the Vet’s office and right up to the front door.
I petted him and rubbed him under his chin as the vet gave him his overdose. I was the last thing he saw before the light left his eyes.
Unfortunately there is no pleasant way to die.
I do apologize my little friend. You were a real trooper. I’m so sorry. I wish I could have done better but thanks for the purr. I really needed to hear you do that one last time. Thank you so very, very much.

Richard E. Noble is a freelance writer and has lived in Franklin County for about 30 years. He has published several books. You can find them all on Amazon or by contacting the author at