"In many disciplines, for the majority of graduates, the Ph.D. indicates the logical conclusion of an academic career." Marc Bousquet

Monday, February 21, 2011

In Which Recent Ph.D. Asks for your Good Wishes on Behalf of a Cat

Toulouse is the cat on the right. She is fourteen years old and lived outdoors her whole life until just a few months ago, when she figured out that life as a housecat wasn't such a bad deal after all -- plenty to eat, warm, comfy places to sleep, and good company (no, as much as they look alike, they're not related).

Now, she has a tumor on her underside the size of a large avocado pit. She saw the vet last week and was scheduled for surgery to remove it. The surgery may or may not happen tomorrow morning. The prognosis is not good, but she is a good cat, loving and people-friendly. And she trusts me.

No matter how many times you go through this with a pet (and I've been through it a number of times), it's always so hard to know what to do that will cause the least pain and suffering. The vets don't always know, and it's not as if your cat can speak for herself. She trusts you to read the signs.

The hardest thing is knowing when to let go. Because, you do want to, if it's the right time, but sometimes you just don't know if there might be more time, more good time. Is it worth the trauma of surgery to find out? Most people would say yes if you were talking about another person: you know, of course, "Do not go gentle into that good night."

But what about a cat? Would she not prefer to stay snuggled in the couch, gradually letting go of food and drink, and then, finally, gently and quietly, just letting go?

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