Advice from the Trenches: Bye, Kitty … and Sandy

catDear C;

I just buried my poor old cat after caring for her while she was sick. It was a difficult time, because I couldn’t get any clear answers. The cat began having strokes and was not in good shape, yet the vet told me she wasn’t suffering because little was registering in her brain. So I kept caring for her. I worried constantly that she was beginning to suffer, but I couldn’t bring myself to just put her down. After three gut-wrenching months, I finally had her put to sleep. I’ll never know if I made the right decision. I was torn up for weeks afterward.

The problem I have now is with something one of my friends did during the last weeks. Sandy, who had not seen the cat even once during it’s decline, suddenly decided I was being irresponsible letting the cat live and sent me an email saying she was angry at me for letting my pet suffer for so long. “What’s wrong with you?” she berated me. “You can take her to the SPCA for only $40.”

As if it had anything to do with money! This was so uncalled for — she had no idea how much I’d done to make sure the animal was NOT suffering, nor did she know about the sleep I lost making sure the cat’s last days were good ones. I have no idea what Sandy was basing her accusations on or why she would think I would knowingly let my beloved pet suffer, but it was so hurtful and inappropriate, I honestly don’t ever want to talk with her again.

Am I just overreacting, or was my friend a total bitch?

Cat Woman

 

Dear CW,

You may be overreacting a bit, but your friend was pretty much a total bitch.

First, let’s get one thing straight: It was your cat. Unless Sandy had seen clear evidence that neglect or abuse was involved, it was none of her business. Second, how insensitive can she be? Real friends support each other through times like these, they don’t lay guilt trips. No one who loves a pet and is going through uncertainty needs crap like that.

I’m going to go out on a limb here, and make a guess. In my experience, people tend to assume that everyone else in the world thinks and feels the same way they do. Your friend may have been in the habit of letting destructive situations continue to an unfortunate end in her own life. If so, she is going to anticipate that you are doing the same. It really says more about her than it does about you, that she thought you were willfully allowing your cat to suffer because you couldn’t be bothered, or didn’t want to put out the cash. But don’t expect to get any apologies. She is probably genuinely convinced you had the same motive behind your actions that she would have had under the same circumstances.

Here’s a true story about my ex-father-in-law, Ed. He was a self-absorbed man who ruined his first marriage by cheating on his wife. Ed ran his own business and often met with clients at his office. One day, a client came by for a meeting and was uncharacteristically quiet. Ed asked him what the deal was and the client said, “I just lost my cat. We had her for 17 years.” The client was visibly crushed. Ed responded with, “I never much cared for cats.”

The really interesting part of the story is that when the client flipped out and left, Ed really couldn’t understand what was upsetting about his remark. He felt he was just expressing an opinion. He had an indifferent attitude toward both his marriage and his philandering. Neither one meant much to him, so why should love or personal loss matter to anyone else?

In my opinion, you made the right call on both accounts. You cared for a beloved pet until all hope of recovery was gone, and you ended a friendship after you were kicked in the teeth while your guard was down. It’s time to stop kicking yourself. There’s been enough of that already.

 

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