When a Pet Dies

By Irina Pino

Ringo

HAVANA TIMES – I’m sad. My cat passed away this morning. He was called Ringo, like the drummer from The Beatles. I gave him this name because he reminded me of the crazy character he played in the movie “A Hard Day’s Night”, who had many adventures.

My cat was the same, always looking for something to do, climbing up onto furniture to try and trap salamanders and moths; or he would climb up on the balcony wall to look down on the pigeons flying about.

He couldn’t wait for somebody to put out his food, whenever there was movement in the kitchen, he would jump up onto the kitchen top to ask for it. Hard boiled eggs were his favorite, he could smell them miles away.

Ringo had a routine: he would come into my room every night and go around it, sticking close to the skirting board, going around the table where I normally write on my laptop. He would do this countless times.

He wasn’t an overly calm animal; he was very active and would run this way and that. He would hide and whenever anybody would walk by him, he would stretch his paw out and touch them, in a playful manner.

He would also show his affection with little bites; although he really didn’t like anyone touching his hind legs, and if anyone were to do it, I’m sure he would bite them good.

My son picked him up two years ago. I remember that he wasn’t a newborn kitten, but he was still too young to be without his mother. He had been thrown out on the parking lot that surrounds my building, where other stray cats live. It’s a place where cats are abandoned quite frequently.

The reality is that he grew into a beautiful animal, with black hair all over, really shiny hair, with huge yellow eyes. I don’t know why, but Ringo and I shared some kind of connection. He immediately purred whenever I stroked him, and he would run to hide when I would tell him off for taking food of a plate.

We had lots of fun times together. Sometimes, when I would put rock music on, I would dance with him by holding up his front legs, which he didn’t oppose to. Or I would carry him and spin him to the beat of some romantic ballad.

He never went down to the street, even if he saw the door was open. I think he was thinking about his safety, his world was at home with humans.

Everything was going well, until he started acting strangely: he wouldn’t urinate in the litter box, but would seek out corners to urinate in, but in tiny amounts. In the end, he couldn’t manage to urinate anymore.

He would also sit in the bathtub without moving, not caring that he was getting his fur all wet. He no longer licked his body.

I took him to the vet and he was diagnosed with kidney stones. The vet recommended putting in a catheter to take the urine out. But there wasn’t any anesthetic, so two of us had to hold him down to make him stay still. His cries didn’t stop while seven needles’ worth of urine and blood were taken out. 

It was suffering for nothing in the end, and at that moment, the image of my mother being intubated at the hospital – to help her live just a couple more days – came to my mind.

If the cat was going to die anyway, why make it suffer? The vet was only thinking about charging his fee.

His explanation was short. He said that the causes of the disease might be diet-related, that he would need to be given a suitable diet, free from calcium, which included fish, vitamins… but the reality is that I just gave him whatever I was eating, in a country when surviving to live another day a great feat right now.

I gave him water early in the morning, but I could see that he was having problems swallowing. I talked to him a little and stroked him.

His last moments were sad, he left his body when he came into my room. When I went back to see him, his eyes were open and he had the death stare. He had vomited water, and I’m sure he went into cardiac arrest.

I closed his eyes and covered him with a towel. I let a few hours pass by, I still didn’t want to let go of him. It looked like he was sleeping, but he soon became stiff.

I looked for a garbage bag and put his lifeless body inside. We buried him nearby, in the same parking lot where my son found him.

A friend told me that maybe the cat will come back in another lifetime as a human. Or maybe his ghost will continue to go round and round my room while I write.

Irina Pino

Irina Pino: I was born in the middle of shortages in those sixties that marked so many patterns in the world. Although I currently live in Miramar, I miss the city center with its cinemas and theaters, and the bohemian atmosphere of Old Havana, where I often go. Writing is the essential thing in my life, be it poetry, fiction or articles, a communion of ideas that identifies me. With my family and my friends, I get my share of happiness.

One thought on “When a Pet Dies

  • All of those of us who have had pets and their friendship, know the pain of losing them. We can but sympathize with you Irina. To his credit, your friend Ringo left you with some happy memories. Think of those!

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