Today I had to make one of the hardest decisions I will make in my lifetime. Looking at Sunshine, I could see that she was no longer happy. After 19 and a half years, our time together has come to an end.
I met Sunshine in 2001, when I first moved out of my parent’s house. It was my first time living on my own and the reassurance of having a pet comforted me. I will never forget the first day we met. It was at the SPCA in Montreal on June 16th, 2001. I walked into the cat room, observed all of the cages and came upon this cute little black and white kitten of around 6 weeks old. He was feisty, fluffy and adorable. I took him out of his cage and brought him into the play area to see if we’d click. I’d never had a cat before so I was not aware of their temperament. This kitten didn’t like me it seemed. He started hissing and waving his paws at me. 20 times smaller than me, he scared me. I decided he wasn’t the one. As I walked back into the area with the cages, I could hear this weird squeaking noise. I looked around but wasn’t sure where it was coming from. Finally, I crouched down in front of a cage on the floor and peered into it. The squeak was coming from the back of the cage. I could see two little eyes and some orange ears poking out from behind a litter box.
I spoke softly and the orange eared cat came out from her hiding spot and walked up to the front of the cage. This little striped orange tabby the color of the sun, was completely disheveled and sounded more like a mouse than a cat. I opened the cage door and picked her up and she instantly hugged me. I knew right then and there that I had found my soulmate. On that day, I adopted Sunshine and she became my best friend.
Sunshine had a difficult start. The SPCA told me that Sunshine was around 6 months old and that she had been spayed. Sunshine and I went home to our new apartment and stared our lives together. A few weeks after adopting Sunshine, I woke up to the horror or her having a miscarriage right on my bed. It was 3 am and there was blood everywhere. It was probably one of the scariest experiences I’ve ever had. I immediately rushed her to an animal hospital. The hospital told me what was going on and that Sunshine was definitely not spayed. She was pregnant from the moment I got her. The hospital told me that they could not treat her as she was adopted from the SPCA. They said I would have to bring her there for treatment. Petrified, I took Sunshine back home and called the SPCA. Around 7 am, they phoned me back and told me to bring Sunshine in immediately.
The SPCA apologized multiple times for their mishap and told me they’d have to keep Sunshine for a few days. They were unsure of whether she’d survive this or not but they’d do their best. I was heartbroken. They kept Sunshine for a total of 5 days. I visited her everyday. Finally after what seemed like the longest 5 days of my life, Sunshine was ready to come home.
Sunshine went through many health issues during her life and I thought I was going to lose her many times. She suffered from Kidney disease and went through many rough times, but she always ended up pulling through. For the past little while she was howling for a few seconds over a dozen times daily. She’d just kind of lose herself and stare at the walls and yell. Caring for her was getting to be a lot of work and sometimes I lost my patience and just cried. She started to have lots of accidents and make lots of messes. She’d often step in her pee on the way out of the litter box and track it all over the house. I’ve never washed my floor so much in my entire life as I have in the past few months. In addition to the pee-pee paw prints, she also threw up a few times daily. Even with all of that, she was still playful, so I hung on and let her enjoy those moments. She’d also still snuggle at bedtime and loved to sleep on my head and chew on my hair.
This past weekend she stopped howling completely and she spent most of the day in her bed. She could not even go to the bathroom herself. I had to bring her to the litter box, stand her in it and let her pee, then bring her back to her bed. That’s when I realized that this time, she was not going to pull through. Seeing her the way she has been these past few days broke my heart and I knew that her time had come. I kept wishing that all of a sudden she’d bounce back, but this time things were different. Sunshine was with me through the good and the bad, relationships and breakups, job loss, new jobs and several moves. No matter how up or down I was, she was always beside me. Her unconditional love got me through many hardships and I am so grateful for everything she did for me throughout our years together. She really was my ray of sunshine.
Sunshine, I will miss you more than you know. My pillow will seem so empty at night without you. May you find peace up there among all of the amazing pets that have passed. Until we meet again my golden angel, I love you dearly.
Tina Modugno is a children’s illustrator from Canada. Tina loves all animals, kids books and cartoons! She currently resides in Quebec with her husband and four cats!