Oh Smudge. You were only four years old. My cute, black-and-white, polydactyl weirdo of a cat. When first I saw you, you were a teeny, 5-week-old kitty. Too small really to have been taken from your mother. Left outside to die in cold January conditions, in a cardboard box with your brothers and sister. You were rescued by a friend of mine who knew I was lonely in my new flat; that I was feeling the emptiness of a place which had no animals. She brought you over as a surprise and I just couldn’t say no.
We bonded very quickly. I became your mother-substitute; you would bury your tiny self in my hair and purr in my ear whilst ‘paddy-pawing’ my neck. I fell in love with your thumbs and extra claws. They made a ‘tic-tic’ noise on the laminate as you walked, because of the mid-thumb claw that you could never retract. My boyfriend (at the time) nick-named you Velociraptor as you reminded him of the Jurassic Park kitchen scene.
You hated other people; I was your human and nobody else came close. You would growl when you heard the doorbell and hide under the duvet cover when anyone strange entered the flat. You had huge, round eyes – almost more like a cute kitty cartoon than real life. You used to make adorable little ‘meowp’ noises when it was cuddle time, and if you woke up and I was in another room, you’d walk around crying until you found me.
Then a couple of weeks ago, something happened. I still don’t know what. Suddenly I became your biggest enemy, one which you were hell-bent on destroying. From nowhere, you began to attack. The attacks were not quick bitch-slaps-followed-by-running-away (as you gave Petal, my other cat, and any humans you didn’t like), but ears back, hissing, almost possessed-seeming all-out war – I had to fight you off and afterwards you continued to fly at me until I locked you in another room. Then for a day or two afterwards, you would hiss and puff your heckles at me everytime I walked near or past you.
You did mellow into your usual self a day or two later, and I would relax, thinking it was over – and then I’d be walking to the kitchen, for example, and the attack would occur again. I was covered in bruises, and bleeding profusely when I made the appointment with the vet. I’d become terrified of making loud noises or accidentally antagonising you – it felt as though I was living with a tiger. The receptionist said I’d probably be referred to an animal behavioural therapist, as it sounded like possible redirected aggression. So I booked an appointment for last Wednesday (the day after my 40th birthday, in fact).
Little did I dream that it would be your last appointment. Leg still smarting from the bruises you had inflicted during the last attack, I cornered you in order to get you into your carrier (usual practice on a vet visit). You were instantly terrified and started yowling. Upon entering the surgery, the vet, instead of immediately taking you out and looking at you, began to tell me a story. A story of his daughter’s cat, who had been given love, and food, and attention, and had suddenly turned, at a very similar age. She had tried various remedies, but the cat had continued to attack her, and finally she had to have it put down. As soon as he started telling the story, I realised where this was leading, and began to cry. The vet then did finally take you out and examine you, and declared, as I had thought, that there was nothing physically wrong. Which is what makes my next move all the more evil. I agreed to have you euthanized.
You were so frightened, and the aggressive cat I had come to expect was no more at that moment; you were trying to make yourself invisible by pressing yourself as far into my tummy as you could. I signed the consent form through a haze of tears, and comforted you whilst the nurse held your leg to be shaved. The vet introduced the injection, and you fell down so fast, so quickly. Your eyes were still open.
I couldn’t leave the room for about half an hour. I stayed as your body began to expel its fluids, as you began to stiffen. I had killed my baby.
It’s so quiet in this flat without you. I hadn’t realise how much I was accustomed to the noise of you walking, and the sound of your little meows. Petal keeps looking for you and seems confused. I hadn’t realised just how much you can mourn an animal. Smudge, I’m so, so sorry. I am a cat killer. I loved you. I wish I had made a different decision, tried harder, something. You’ll always be my baby, and I’ll miss you forever.