Dear Isabella Boo-Manchu,
I'm not sure why I'm writing you a letter, you being a cat and thus too haughty to learn to read, but I feel obligated to attempt to explain what is happening here. Tomorrow morning we will go to the vet's office, and you will fall asleep there and not come home again. I know you'll be scared--you've never quite trusted the vet--but I'll be there with you, even holding you in my arms if you'll let me.
I suspect it's hard to believe, but I really am trying to spare you from all these problems you've been suffering over these past few years; these problems that make you hungry all the time but unable to absorb any satisfaction from your food. Having been feral in the beginning, you've never quite trusted me, either. And don't think that I don't recognize that a letter about putting you to sleep isn't really the best forum to make my case. But hear me out.
Remember how you and your brother, Murray, showed up on my doorstep back in 1995 in Long Beach, California, hiding from the giant opossums that gorged off the garbage in the alleyway? You two were so tiny, and while he was ready to blindly trust any one who came by, you were the wary one, making sure it was safe for the two of you before you'd come into my apartment. Even once you were inside, warm and safe (November is chilly, even in Southern California) it took months before you'd let me pet you. But I kept you out of danger, and you have to admit that you liked being able to curl up and nap on the furniture.
And once we'd moved to Los Angeles (you know, that apartment where you liked to knock all my ironic tsotchke crosses and Madonnas off the shelves every night?), do you remember how you got out one night and I slept on the floor next to the screen door to let you back in when you realized your folly at 3 a.m.? And who hung out with you and brought food to you when you wouldn't come out for three weeks once we got the dog? Yeah, me. And in Seattle when I spaced out and left the door open when we went away for the weekend, that was kind of a cool adventure for you, wasn't it?
Now, I'll concede that once we moved to rural Virginia I could have handled your hunting habits better. But you have to admit that having a living but shocked chipmunk dropped on one's foot would cause just about anybody to scream. And seriously, after you figured out that the bell on your neck was scaring off the birds, how many deaf--thus dead--moles did I bury without comment?
But these past couple of years have been tough. Here--in your 3rd state, 7th city and 9th address by my count--things have not gone so well. While you've become a bona fide lap kitty--and that only took 14 years--you've also been effectively starving to death regardless of how many pills we've given you. And slowly but surely we've had to close off ever greater parts of the house from you, lest you cause havoc. Your life is becoming increasingly circumscribed, and it isn't going to get any better.
So tomorrow morning I am going to do the hardest thing we humans have to do for the animals who have given us so much. I am going to let you go. And I am going to miss you. I hope kitty heaven is cluttered with cans of tuna, and that there you don't need thumbs to get them open.