When you’re a pet-sitter, it’s inevitable to lose animals. That is, suffer their loss due to unforeseen circumstances. Animals, just like people, eventually die. It’s a fact of life. I’ve been a pet-sitter for 15 years so I have lost my share of “clients.” The worst part of the job is getting attached to so many animals that aren’t yours so when those animals pass away, it’s almost as bad as losing a pet of your own. I’ve experienced the death of other peoples’ pets often enough, usually hearing about it after the fact, or the next time they need me to pet-sit. But when it happens while you’re on the job, the experience is much more traumatic. I recently had a pet die on my watch. He was a 14-year-old black cat named “Blackie.”
A week ago, clients of mine (the human sort) went out of town for Thanksgiving. That night, at two in the morning, Blackie suffered a blood clot from his heart to his back legs. I found him crying in the basement, dragging his back legs as he tried to get up. Originally I thought he’d broken his back or legs from a fall of some sort. He was alert and in pain and I felt helpless. I called Blackie’s parents and they told me to call the emergency vet number, who then told me to rush the cat to the clinic. There, the vet informed me that Blackie had not fallen, but was victim to a blood clot from his heart, similar to a stroke. The doctor gave him an injection to try to dissolve the clot and another shot to help with the pain. Blackie stopped crying and I left him there overnight. The blood clot was dissolving a day later, but Blackie suffered another one the next night. The second one was fatal.
Blackie was the coolest cat I knew. He loved to go out and prowl the neighborhood. He came home when he was good and ready and not a moment sooner. He had a crooked ear that made it look like he was always displeased with you. But he was also affectionate, always on your lap if you were sitting and in front of the screen if you were on the computer. He had a good, long life, especially since he liked being outdoors. Outdoor cats, on average, have a much shorter life expectancy than indoor cats.
I did everything I could to save Blackie and so did the vet, but like Blackie’s parents said, it was just his time. It seemed he would never die, but even tough critters meet their match. The guilt I feel is natural and will fade over time, as will the helplessness I felt when I found him. All I can do now is remember the good times I had with him, and hope he’s running around like a kitten up in Heaven, and hope to see him when I get up there. I’ll just look for the black cat with the crooked halo.