We had to have our cat euthanized this past weekend, and it was one of the hardest decisions I've ever made. The logical part of me knew it was the right thing to do, but the emotional strain of it was terrible.
We found Phoebe inside our apartment building's hallway in 1996. Since you had to enter a main door in order to get to the actual apartment doors, we figured she must belong to a fellow apartment-dweller, but signs on all of the entrances and an ad in the newspaper did not help us find her people, so we became her people.
I named her Phoebe, because she stunk to high heaven and we were fans of the TV show "Friends." Phoebe, the character on Friends, sang a song called "Smelly Cat." Since our cat was smelly, her name became Phoebe. We thought she was a kitten because she was so small, but the vet told us that based on her exam, she was probably more like 4 years old. She stayed the size of a kitten her entire life.
Phoebe was there when my eldest child was born in 1997, and when complications from the delivery had me near fainting in the bathroom one night, and I was unable to call out, Phoebe went and jumped on my husband's chest and yowled at him until he woke up, so he could hear my squeaky voice from down the hall. I thought then that maybe we should have named her Lassie...
She was affectionate and "talkative", but only on her own terms. We could live in the house with her and not see her two or three days, and then she'd come out of her hidey hole and want to be loved and rubbed, and would therefore rub, love, knead and purr until we were overcome by cuteness and couldn't help but pet her for as long as she wanted. For the last year or so, she had lost her sense of day and night apparently, because she would wake us up at night by pawing at our hands and hair until we woke up to pet her.
She developed a slight limp, and by the time I could make her an appointment at the vet's she was dragging a foot. Last Friday she completely lost the ability to move her hindquarter, and was dragging around with her two front feet. The heartbreaking part of this was that she didn't have any pain, and didn't seem to realize her back feet didn't work, because her cuddling, purring and nuzzling never stopped. It would possibly have been less traumatizing to take her to the vet's office if she hadn't acted so darn happy all morning prior.
I am completely certain that nothing good, curative, or painless was going to come of an 18-ish year old cat with paralysis of 2 legs. But having faced that, I still feel like we might have somehow betrayed her by having her put to sleep.
Rest in Peace, little Phoebe.