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The hardest part of loving a cat

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By Daryn Kagan EBS Contributor

I don’t know if I made the right decision. Chances are I’ll never know. I only know I made a different decision. A choice I’ve never had the fortitude to make before. A crushing dilemma that I figure you’ve faced, too, Dear Reader.

When do you let your beloved pet go?

Pisa was a different sort of cat. A three-legger who came to me eight years ago when I thought I wasn’t yet ready for another cat. My third three-legged cat, actually. Why, how, the three-leggers find me is a mystery. A topic for another day.

This day, the only question was, “When? When to let go?” The downslide had started months before. The list of maladies layering upon each other. “The number one priority,” the veterinarian told me, “we need to take care of these teeth.” Teeth that were beginning to decay. Teeth, I was assured, that were incredibly painful to her, even though she didn’t say so.

And so, I agreed. To surgery. To take them. “You can feed her tonight when you get home,” the vet told me when I went to pick her up. I so looked forward to that moment. This cat, who could be cranky, who didn’t like many people or things besides me, loved to eat. Only, the moment didn’t come. She wouldn’t eat that night. Or the next. Wouldn’t drink either.

By the time the weekend ended, I drove an hour to my old vet who I trusted more, kicking myself for why I didn’t start there in the first place. It was obvious she needed to stay. IV’s. Syringe feeding. Nothing was the jump start we were looking for. Enough, I decided, enough. I brought her home. To sit in the clover in the backyard watching our chickens. To sleep under the stars on her favorite place on our deck. To make her happy. Again. And she was. Not happy enough to eat. But happy enough to make me question if I should keep the appointment I had made when I picked her up.

“She’s not suffering,” my sister assessed as I FaceTimed with her.

Which is when I knew. This time, with this pet, I had to do this differently. With other beloved pets, I squeezed every last moment. If I’m honest, too many moments, out of their time here on this planet. “Are you saying she has to suffer before I let her go?” I asked myself. “Is that not the cruelest standard of all?” Even if I could get her to eat or drink, there were uncomfortable treatments waiting for her for other challenging ailments.

And so, I kept our appointment. I let her go. Let her go on this side of suffering. Was it right? I look forward to one day getting to ask her.

Meanwhile, I trust she is in a place gobbling buckets of wet food, hunting frogs, free of our pesky puppy. She’s on the other side of happy.

Daryn Kagan was a featured speaker at TEDxBigSky 2018. She is the author of “Hope Possible: A Network News Anchor’s Thoughts on Losing her Job, Finding Love, a New Career, and my Dog, Always my Dog,” and the founder of, a resource for uplifting and positive news.

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