My beautiful Munchkin cat, Maple, died on Friday, August 25, 2017 after a one-month illness. We made a great effort to care for him hoping for a recovery. There were many visits to the veterinarian. But he wasted away, neither eating nor drinking, until finally he couldn’t move and he fell asleep in our arms. I know he was only a cat, just an animal, but that doesn’t lessen the feeling that he is part of the family. I don’t know how Canadians treat deceased pets. Maybe they bury them in the garden. In Japan there is a system for large pets like dogs and cats. A pet funeral and cremation service is available, and that is what we did. That first night my daughter slept with Maple in her arms. I took my turn holding him tight in my arms, too, as if the warmth of my body and the sound of my voice could revive him. By Saturday morning he was beginning to smell (faintly). By mid-afternoon Saturday, when the cremation van arrived (an innocuous-looking small white truck with what resembled a pottery kiln mounted in its back) he was smelling much more noticeably. The cremation took 1½-hours, which is about the same time it takes at a human crematorium. (I’ve participated in three Japanese funerals.) I use the word “participate” seriously because at a Japanese funeral, after the cremation, it is the family’s job to use special funeral chopsticks to pick up the bone fragments and place them in the urn. It was the same with Maple, whose urn now rests in our home. When he was cremated we added some mementos, much as we are apt to do at human funerals: hand-written notes of love and affection; a packet of his favorite cat treats; his favorite toy ball, some flowers.
What saddens me the most is not so much the loss to my life of my dear, gentle pet as his loss of the chance to live some more (despite the fact that his final weeks were not high quality time). I mean, I mourn that he couldn’t enjoy one more day with his family, eat more cat food or enjoy any more of his favorite cat treats. He couldn’t enjoy chasing the rabbit around the house any more, or play with his favorite ball or string, or sit in the sun on the balcony one more time, or curl up on the pillow next to his Mommy like he usually did.
Maple was only six years old. True love lasts forever, seriously, and I will love him for ever and ever.