Yanny lounges

We’ve lost three cats to old age over the past three months: Nina in October, Luigi in November, and Frankie in December. We euthanized Nina and Luigi after they each were diagnosed with a laundry list of ailments: pancreatitis and kidney failure for both, neurologic issues for Nina, and cancer for Luigi. In Frankie’s case, she died suddenly at home after having struggled with diabetes for years and mobility and incontinence issues more recently. Some pets save you the choice of deciding when it’s time to say goodbye by checking out on their own.

Whereas Luigi lived alongside the rest of our cats, Nina and Frankie lived in a spare bedroom with one-eyed Yanny. We’d established this “quiet kitty room” years ago when we’d adopted Gumbo, who had congenital heart problems and needed a calm environment. Gentle Nina was a perfect roommate for Gumbo, so when he died we adopted Frankie then Yanny to keep Nina company: three mellow cats who thrived in a quiet space away from Luigi’s big and sometimes bullying personality.

After both Nina and Frankie died, Yanny was the lone survivor in the “quiet kitty room,” and although a room of one’s own might be desirable for prospective writers, cats accustomed to roommates get lonely. In the past, we would have adopted new cats to replace the ones we’d lost, treating our household menagerie like a sports team where a new player gets called up whenever a roster spot opens.

But…after Nina, Luigi, then Frankie died in rapid succession, it became clear that neither J nor I wanted more cats. The emotional rollercoaster of adopting and acclimating a new pet, spending lots of time and energy on their care, and then saying goodbye is draining. After years of being the “crazy cat couple” who intentionally adopted cats with medical needs and then centered our lives around their care, both J and I want to spend less time on pet-tending and more time on travel and other pursuits.

So this week, we freed Yanny from the solitude of his room and introduced him to the housemates he barely knew he had: gregarious Hillary and Larry and secretive George and Gracie. We’ll care for these five remaining cats until the end of their natural lives, then we’ll transition to being (just) dog people. When Henry David Thoreau left Walden after living there for two years, he said he’d realized he “had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one.” After shepherding so many cats through medical challenges and end-of-life care, J and I are approaching a place where it’s time to live another life.