A life lesson in the death of a much-loved cat

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By Tim Dick

Our household had a late and unwelcome entry in the death toll of 2016. It came with Rocko, who scraped in with a departure on Friday. Granted, the death of a cat is of less moment to most than that of George Michael, and he was a celebrity only to those who knew him, but our wee furry guy managed to give us life lessons without the irritation of a life coach, and company without human complications.

His first life lesson to me was early rising. His day, and therefore mine, began with regularity at 5.30am with a gentle whisker brushed across my face, then the nudge of a cold nose if that didn’t work, then a bite to the nose if all else but mild violence failed to rouse the deliverer of his morning meal.

 


 

Once the irritation has passed that the cat alarm once again chose my side of the bed, and never the other, I was up, fed, and at work before most others, getting my stuff done, and setting up an early exit at the other end of the day. Rocko was a productivity booster devoid of mumbo-jumbo: get up early, do your work, go home.

His second lesson was to demonstrate the benefits of adequate insurance, by having no insurance. Pet insurance might sound faintly ridiculous, but having spent thousands on vet bills in the last two years, and unless you’re able to save for unknown future medical catastrophes, it’s a no-brainer. We’re now breaking even on the insured dog, but were too slow for the cat. It’s compulsory for any future pet.

Rocko the cat

His third lesson was the decision in which he took no part, but which was the right thing to do, and which is the law makes impossible for people: euthanasia.

Nearing Christmas, he became bloated, carrying lymphoma in his gut, heart disease, and a tumour on his liver. We decided to put him down, but delayed it a week or so. He didn’t make it that far, forcing the decision to euthanase after he’d collapsed at home.

I knew something bad was up when, for the first time, he didn’t shred my arms while being shoved in the cat carrier.

As he lay dying on the vet table, our sadness came tinged with relief that the law is gentle enough to allow vets to put down pets when their time has come. His suffering was exceptionally short, his end far more peaceful than we force some people to endure.

After the narrowest of defeats for a euthanasia bill in South Australia in November, the next test of whether politicians will allow people the same mercy as we afford our pets comes in Victoria later this year. The Andrews government said in December it would bring legislation to allow some dying adults to die sooner than they otherwise would.

The right will be restricted to those who have the capacity to make decisions, who are at the end of their lives because of a terminal illness. Two doctors will likely have to approve the prescription of a euthanasia drug, and patients unable to take the tablet themselves could be helped by a doctor.

It strikes the right balance between the right of the dying to avoid unnecessary pain, and protecting others from an unnecessarily hasty death. It merely adds another option for those at the end of their lives, rather than being pumped with morphine to dull the pain of a disease taking its course.

It would end that fake distinction between the legal form of hastening death known as passive euthanasia (like doctors turning off a life-support machine), and the form of hastening death known as active euthanasia (a doctor-provided pill or injection that causes death) which remains illegal across Australia even with the ardent wishes of the patient.

It’s now two days after we put Rocko down, and I am using the home computer without feline keyboard interference for the first time in years. On the screen, which I can see without having to peer around a cat head, is an e-book called Damage Done, a collection of personal essays compiled by Andrew Denton’s advocacy group, Go Gently Australia.

A short way in is an extraordinary death notice, published in The Age last year, which captures the need and urgency for voluntary euthanasia far better than I can. It speaks for itself: “Andrew Ross Carswell, a skilled musician, at times tedious intellectual, much loved friend of many, valued family member, and adored husband to Carolyne, died an unnecessarily protracted, distressing death on Sunday 13 March as a result of the continuing absence of legislation that could have otherwise allowed a man of his integrity experiencing the final stages of liver cancer peaceful, timely access to euthanasia. May he finally be able to enjoy the long sleep he had been anticipating and may the anti-euthanasia lobby collectively experience the tediously prolonged, objectionable demise they are so determined to impose on everyone else.”

Complete Article HERE!

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