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September 23rd, 2009 | 16 Comments »

We won’t be treating Harmon’s cancer.

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It’s not even a consideration. He is 16, and has blessed me with the most unconditional and amazing love of any animal I’ve known. Through times of my life when I felt like I was the most vile and worthless human, he never failed to climb in my lap and press his girth against me, purring his trademark rumble and squeezing my leg with his claws. Every night he curled against my legs in bed, or often on top of them and I would struggle against his weight and warmth to prevent my legs from falling asleep. Yet he never relented. It was like he knew what his role was, knew exactly what I needed even if I couldn’t feel it myself. He knew his place, and it was on my lap, or curled tight next to me.

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It’s one thing to discuss cancer treatments with a human, one who can understand and comprehend why they may need poison in their body to ward off such a terrible disease. You can explain about hospitals and doctors and needles and IV tubes and side effects to a human. You can’t tell a cat any of this. You can’t explain that it will help relieve the pain. You can take a human to the hospital and tell them you’ll return to visit, or be there when the treatment is over but you can’t make the animal understand that. They won’t know it’s in their best interest. They only will know pain, fright and confusion. I could never do that to Harmon, and I could never do that to me.

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And he’s 16. He’s been in beginning stages of renal failure for about two years, but without major problems. And for the love and strength that he’s given me, it’s grossly unfair to think that I can prolong his life for my own benefit. He’s been in a safe and loving environment since he was a baby; I am the one face he’s known his whole life and he’s given me back oceans of love for the simple act of accepting him into my life. What he needs now is relief from the pain and the knowledge that for the end of his life, I was here with him, making him comfortable and showing him how much I love him.

As for what’s next, we just need to watch him. I’m more than aware of the fact that we’ll know, without a doubt, when it’s time to say goodbye.

This ‘bed head’ shot has always been one of my favorites. Harmon does ‘bed head’ really well.

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I’m a little worried about how Bustopher will handle the loss of his cat-bro….

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More importantly, how will we??

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That’s why they call dying a ‘process’, I guess.

16 responses to “Processing…..”

  1. Annie K says:

    I happened upon your blog and saw the post about Harmon. I’m a huge cat lover and went through the same thing with a few years ago with my 14 yo cat Sebastian. I’m sorry to hear about Harmon and I’m glad you had as many years with him as you did. (He looks just like a cat I had named Guido growing up. Brought a huge smile to my face!)

  2. Carolyn T says:

    Oh, Kate . . . so sorry to hear about Harmon. It’s such a heartbreak to lose a pet. Taking him to the vet for his last shot into eternity is just horrible. Awful. I get choked up still just thinking about it the number of times I’ve had to do it. For now, hope Harmon will have some comfort in just sleeping and being surrounded by his loving family.

  3. […] I love a pot of chili that develops over time on my stove. The extra deep flavors, the rich tender chunks of beef and the warm smoky aroma that fills my house are one of the things I begin to crave as the daylight grows shorter each Fall. Be that as it may, I also love having something hearty, healthy and quick to pull together and offer to a gnawing stomach. Or a broken soul. […]

  4. […] has caught him with his fangs and his Mommie now is very very sad – as are we all here! Harmon we love you and are sending all our strongest and most comforting […]

  5. Astrid says:

    Kudos to you Kate, I know this is one of the hardest decision we all we be faced with one day and I completely understand your reasons to go this way.
    I hope I will be strong enough to do this one day.
    Wishing you, Harmon and your entire family the best days to come to cuddle and snuggle and give and receive love as long as possible. Every day together is a blessing and gift anway even more so when you know them are counted.

    big hugs and lots purrrs form the kitties and me!

  6. The grief you feel now and will feel as the days pass will be unrelenting but precious, at the same time. You will have days to sing and to cuddle and to love and to lavish volumes of attention on your little man. This can be the best of times and also the worst but it is part of the circle of life. Always remember that you have brought Harmon full circle never abandoning him or his needs. Not all animals have that kind of treasured existence. You have given Harmon something that is priceless just as he has returned that gift with all of his love.

  7. Tiki & Kesey says:

    We are very sorry. We lost Vincent after a lot of cancer and CRF treatment, and Riley after very little. Either way it hurts and our eyes are leaking for you. We hope that Harmon stays comfortable enough to stay with you a while longer.

  8. The Meezers says:

    oh it’s not easy. When our Ralph was diagnosed with cancer, at age 12, they gave him 6 weeks tops. We gave him sub-q fluids every other day and he felt much better very quickly. He lived pain free for 7 more months. We knew it was time and I called the vet to make the appointment, but Ralph did things his own way and passed in my arms 2 hours before his scheduled appointment. I lost my ginger twins Trixie and Norton, who were 18, within 4 months of each other. {{{{HUGS}}}} to you Kate.


  9. Katie says:


    My heart aches for you [I have to learn how to hold myself together in these situations!]. I am a vet student in my final year of training and, from both a medical and personal perspective, I completely understand and support your selfless, difficult decision. I hope you find comfort in the fond memories you have made over Harmon’s life with you. You both were blessed to have each other.

  10. Minna says:

    Kate, what a beautiful, poignant, moving post about your beloved Harmon. You are doing what’s best for your baby, even though it’s breaking your heart. I’m sending you, Harmon, and your family strong vibes for you to make it through this together.

    I’m so very sorry.

  11. weaver57 says:

    Oh Kate: It is so hard to go through what you are going through. You have given Harmon a wonderful life and he has given in turn. We have gone through this many times, and it never gets easier. But, we do have the memories and then adopt another needy 4 legged critter to love and receive love. thinking of you.

  12. roger ganyo says:

    Kate my heart goes out to you as you wait for the inevitable. Last year, our cat Kinky left us, after he had been a part of Pat’s life for a little over 16 years. He also had cancer and the tumor was in his throat which made it just about impossible for him to eat. The vet. told us that surgery was an option, but a poor one as he had little success with surgery.Especially considering his age. It was not an easy decision to let him go, but watching him trying to eat with the pain, which medication seemed to help for a little while, a very little while. Just wanted to let you know that our thoughts are with you as you wait for the inevitable.—Roger and Pat

  13. doniree says:

    Kate, I can’t imagine any of this said or conveyed more heartfelt or beautifully than you did here. I’m so so sorry that the goodbye process has to start, but I’m glad you’ve been so blessed with Harmon’s presence in your life. xoxo

  14. Balisha says:

    Oh, Kate…what a heartfelt post. I could feel your pain in the words you wrote. You will know when it is time. We just put our doggy to rest a couple of weeks ago. He was an English Springer Spaniel of 12 yrs. You are being remembered in my prayers.
    Balisha (hugs)

  15. Anne says:

    I too, am in tears reading this sweet, touching post. I think you are doing the right thing by Harmon by not putting him through the pain and suffering of treatment. He is lucky to have you as his mama.

  16. Kristen says:

    Oh Kate… I am in tears. What a touching post.
    I still remember Miss Kitty sleeping on my bum and to this day when I feel a “thud” on the bed I look to see if it is her jumping up to claim her space. She’s been gone for 5 years now.
    I am so sorry…