War Within

by | Apr 29, 2011 | The Red Dress Club | 30 comments

What are you going to do?

I don’t know. I really don’t know.

You should try and save him.

I know. I want to but you heard what the vet said. $1500 – maybe more. And if it’s intestinal cancer, the outcome is poor even after surgery.

Yes, but this is your family pet. This is Zeb. You have to try.

I know. I want to. I do. We just can’t afford it. We really can’t.

And money is the only factor here?

What do you mean?

I mean, could there be something else influencing your decision?

Like what?

Like ever since you had kids you don’t give either of your cats the time of day.

I don’t give the time of day to half the things I’d like to. I’m fucking run off my feet as it is.

No time even just to give your cats a pat now and again.

I do pat them.

Rarely. And even then you’re worried about getting fur on your clothes.

Only because I wear so much black…

It never used to bother you.

I know.

You used to spoil those cats. They were your babies.

Exactly. They have always been very well loved and looked after.

Until LD arrived. And then, you started chasing them out of the room, wanting them outside all the time.

I know but I just didn’t want cat fur all over the baby things. I was worried LD could have been allergic or something.

But he wasn’t allergic, was he? And even if he was, the cats didn’t understand that, did they? All they knew was that practically over night, they became second class citizens.

I was distracted with a newborn!

But your poor cats didn’t know that. You just fucking neglected them!

I KNOW! I fucking know, okay?  

Oh my god, are you crying?

Yes, I’m crying.

Because of Zeb?

Of course, because of Zeb.


What do you mean, right?

I just think it’s a bit hypocritical, that’s all.

Zeb is the family pet. We’ve had him for nearly nine years and very suddenly we discover that he may have cancer. I’m sorry but I find that upsetting. Where’s the hypocrisy in that?

This was the cat you didn’t want. The cat you wanted to try and rehome.

Only because I thought maybe I could find a new home for both cats where they could go back to being the centre of attention. Maybe with an older couple or someone who lives on their own and would love the company.

Oh yeah, you were doing it for them. Nothing to do with the fact that you find them inconvenient now.

Yes! Alright? I find them inconvenient now! Are you happy? I have enough demands without worrying about cat litter and whether Zeb is pulling up carpet in a rental property. Fucking hell, it’s not easy trying to juggle everything and yes, the cats have become a burden! Don’t you think I hate myself for feeling this way?

Not enough to put up the money to save your pet.

The vet told me I was better off putting him to sleep! The fucking vet advised me to do it! I would love to be able to say, “Do whatever it takes” but we just can’t afford it. I feel sick about it but if he has cancer, then maybe this is the best decision.

The best decision for YOU. One cat down, only one to go.

That’s a hideous thing to say. I never thought that.

I know what goes on in your head. I could hear the relief.

I’m not relieved that he’s sick but yes, it might be easier to find a new place if we’re not putting down two cats on the rental application.


No! That’s not it! My decision is based on the vet's advice and because Zebby is not himself. You can see how sick he is! I’m not making that up. But I can’t help but think of the things that might be easier…

But what if it’s not cancer? Unless the vet operates, you’ll never really know. What if it was something treatable? You’d be killing your cat for nothing!

Don’t you think I realise that? I've agonized over this but no matter how I look at it, I don’t have $1500 to find out. I just don’t have it!

As long as you can live with that, Angie.

Well, I don’t have a choice. But it must be nice for you, sitting there in judgment. I hope you’re enjoying your righteousness.

Not righteousness. It’s about what’s decent.

Fine! I’m the fucking devil, okay! Just leave me alone. Please…I’m begging you…. just leave me alone.


This piece was written in response to the writing prompt: 

Write about a fight – the reasons behind it, the repercussions, etc. Show us. Use description.


My piece does not really fulfill what is being asked of me in this prompt, I know. And I well and truly blew the word limit. But I needed to write this post and it just happened to fit with the theme of the prompt. This is NOT me trying to write well but rather, it's me using writing as catharsis. Because this is really happening. Only today, after preparing ourselves for the euthanizing of our much loved Zebby, the vet made a last minute change of diagnosis which finds us now in a terrible kind of limbo. I don't know what is going to happen. And so, the internal war rages on. 

Thank you for reading.

Hello friends


I’m Angie!  I mum. I write. I wife. My husband would say this is the correct order.  He’s so neeeedy. I live with my family in Melbourne, Australia, where I complain about the weather for 90% of the year – but I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Except maybe in Lake Como, waving to my neighbours George and Amal each morning.

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  1. Alison @Mama Wants This

    I’m sorry about your cat, truly. I hope you find a solution that works for everyone.

    As for your piece, it almost describes word for word my internal dilemma about my 2 cats when I brought the baby home. Except they weren’t sick. Commiserations!

  2. claireyhewitt

    It’s a cat, not your child, of course it comes second third or tenth on the list.

    Love your writing, hope you didn’t pay it!

  3. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Thank you, Alison.

    From the moment I brought my first child home, my feelings about my once adored and doted upon cats were permanently altered. And the guilt I feel about that has never really subsided.

    As to Zebby, I don’t know. I think I just have to pray.

  4. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Thank you, Claire.

    Of course, my priorities changed when bub came along but I can’t help but go back to the “a pet is for life” thing – you can’t just get rid of them because they’re no longer convenient, you know?

    I don’t know. The whole thing is awful.

    As to paying the $1500, we couldn’t if we wanted to. And in many ways, we do want to. But we just can’t.

  5. Amelia

    A hard piece to read. My 17 year old dog passed yesterday and i promise any money i could pay to make her well i would. Pets, kids and mums alike a precious. A tough time ahead for you, sending my sympathy.

  6. Mel

    Oh, I like the way you interpreted this one and made it an internal fight. Those can be some of the most brutal. Anyone who owns pets AND has kids has been here to some degree or another. Remember this: just because it may have the added benefit of creating less work for you doesn’t mean that following the vet’s advice to euthanize is less of the right decision. Nice piece.

  7. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Thank you so much, Mel.

    This particular internal fight is upsetting and exhausting – I have had the worst headache this afternoon.

    I don’t know what will happen but the back and forth is hard work. I want my little cat well or I want it over. Being suspended somewhere in the middle is awful.

    Thanks for reading. xx

  8. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Thank you, Amelia and I am so, sorry about your beloved dog. 17 years is amazing. What a life. I hope your heart heals soon.


  9. Frelle

    im familiar with this internal struggle. my internal voice is pretty harsh.

  10. melbo

    Will be back tomorrow to post something more thoughtful. Just wanted to let you know I’ve seen this and I can’t believe the predicament you’re in. It’s just horrendous for everyone.

  11. CDG

    I wept in the vet’s office when they told me it would be $2K to save my dog. Money we didn’t have, and a dog that my husband never learned to love… who like your Zeb became an inconvenience after we had our son.

    *Such* a hard choice.

  12. Mommy Shorts

    I am so sorry about your dear pet and your inner conflict. I can tell you that I know so many new parents that had pets who became second class citizens. Worse— ignored. My best friend has a dog that has been in a deep state of depression since their baby arrived a year and a half ago. They treated this dog like a baby and now they plainly admit he is a burden and it will be easier on everyone when he passes (he’s getting up there in years). It’s a horrible thing but you are not alone.

  13. Denelle @CaitsConcepts

    I absolutely feel your pain on this one. I beat myself up plenty over one of the cats that we ended up having to drop off at the animal shelter.. we tried to hold off for a no-kill shelter, but there just weren’t any openings and this cat was peeing on everything of the baby’s, the kitchen counter, in the closets. It was horrible.

    After that, the remaining three ended up being locked in a separate part of the house from us, where they once had full reign over everything, because the baby was allergic and was always covered in cat hair (2 were long haired cats). One of them was fairly old and ended up missing a jump to a nearby table and was found with a broken neck. Definitely a guilt-inducer.

    The only thing I can hope now is that the remaining two, whom we had to get rid of when we moved into the new rental place (no pets allowed because they might wreck the place – which is ironic if you’ve ever heard me talk about what a dump this is), are happier in their new homes than we probably made them towards the end in our home. =(

    Decisions like the one you’re facing are hard enough as it is… but when you factor in all the guilt that comes along with it? All I can do is wish you all luck.

  14. Kelli @ No. 7

    Wow. I went through this with our Rosie last fall. She was 12, a persian cat who was the baby for 6 years. It really is an internal struggle filled with guilt. I really, really related to this fight.

    Best of luck with Zeb and don’t beat yourself up too much 🙂

  15. Tam

    Oh dear…Angie… I’m seeing the fight very clearly.. I mean, well.. obviously you’ve just put it down in words.

    I have 4 cats, and trying for a baby… I’ve only held off on it cos of the cats!!! But I’ve decided they won’t miss out on anything.. I’ve promised them and myself… I love those fur kids…
    and I’d just suggest, you should break the bank to give Zeb a go!!!

  16. MJ

    I understand this guilt all too well, I really do. There’s nothing that can be said to lessen those feelings, either.

    In the weeks before Jet was hit by a car, and I’d given in to his demands to let him outside at night – something I’d always refused to do prior babies – I felt peace. Relief. We were only just emerging from the the dark tunnel of hellish sleep deprivation with F, and then Jet had started up with his incessantly loud carry on to go outside. He had a really loud Oriental cat’s meow that couldn’t be ignored. It messed with my head. I was finally getting more than one hours’ sleep at a time, and there he was, doing his best to wake the baby (it was a very small house). So I gave in and began letting him out, and I knew full well the risks… but I chose sleep. And only 2 weeks later, he got killed. And part of me was still relieved that F was no longer going to be woken up at night by him.

    Today this day, I hate myself for thinking that way.

    I know our situation was different to yours, but I understand being torn, and the guilt, over a creature who was once your baby but got pushed away.

    Thinking of you. xxx

  17. Melissa

    Mad has said what I wanted to say last night but was too tired to articulate.

    There is no escaping the guilt in this situation and I think it is a guilt that all carers share to some degree. When you look after everyone all day, every day, it is unrealistic to expect there not to be some conflicting feelings. It is a heavy weight at times but that doesn’t mean you love them any less.

    Your grief in this case is compounded by the appalling situation with the diagnosis and the vet’s recommendations. It is even worse now if possible because you feel you have more than one option.

    I almost hesitate to call myself a euthanasia advocate – but I believe so strongly in the rightness of it in certain situations as a means to relieve suffering instead of prolonging the inevitable. We have not yet reached a stage where we can choose this legally for ourselves but we have that choice with our loved pets. It is not a “convenience” option or a cop out. It is a hard decision but one made out of the greatest love you can have for another living thing – I love you so much but I don’t want you to hurt any longer so I am going to let you go.

    I am fortunate that my cat’s life ended at the precise moment it did. It was as if he knew the gig was up. The old warrior changed places with the struggling embryo and the deal was done. I don’t know how I would have managed to give him what he needed in those last few months of his life had this happened when we had a baby and no money. I could afford the prolonged vet treatment, I could afford the “good death” at home in familiar surroundings and I could afford the time to sit with him for as long as it took to ease his passage from this life.

    This I believe was his final gift to me – the chance for us to end our time together in peace so that I could go on without the guilt. It sounds crazy but it helped me to deal with his death and it still brings comfort today.

  18. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Yes, I am most certainly the cruellest person I have ever met – to myself.

    Thank you for reading.

  19. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Thank you, Ilana. There is some comfort in knowing that it’s not just me – it helps to ease the guilt somewhat…somewhat.

  20. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Denelle, thank you so much for sharing your story with me. It really does help to know I’m not alone. That I’m not just a monster – which is kind of how I feel right about now.

  21. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Oh Tam, I wish it were that simple. But if there is no bank to break? Then you end up here, where I am. A kind of purgatory.

    Thank you for reading.

  22. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Thanks, babe. Thank you for sharing this with me. When we got the initial diagnosis, the first thing I thought was, “I’ve done this. By wishing I didn’t have to deal with the cats anymore, I have brought this upon myself. The universe heard me and has delivered” – be careful what you wish for. And so I was devastated – and relieved.

    We woke yesterday to Zeb having completely soaked our bed with urine – he couldn’t control it, poor little thing. I just cuddled him. And he just lay so still in my arms. B came home early from work and we steeled ourselves for what we had to do. We cuddled Zeb and cried and cried. And then, at the vet’s, B asked them to check Zebby once more before we proceeded. The vet noticed the massive lump discovered the day before had ‘changed’ – turns out it is actually some kind of blockage in the bladder, possibly not cancer. We now await tests to find out what.

    To go from the precipice and then be pulled back suddenly? I can’t describe the mess of emotions. I feel insane.

  23. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Yes, you did have the ideal closure with your beloved cat, Mel – it’s never easy but this was a gift, you’re right.

    I am just so conflicted. If you read my response above to Mad, you can see that we still don’t really know what’s going on. But there is a possibility that we almost put down a cat with a UTI. Can you fucking imagine? I don’t blame the vet – the whole thing was that she didn’t know for sure and the only way to find out was to cut him open and after the quote, I just knew that wasn’t on the cards.

    Yesterday morning, with the incontinence and the total lethargy, no eating or drinking, I thought this was a sign. I really did. And I began to make my peace with what I had to do – and also, consider the things that would be better because of that decision.

    Fuck! I can’t believe this has happened. I had actually paid for the procedure and everything. It’s almost funny. And in order to cope, B and I indulged in some very black humour in the direct aftermath. How could we not? We were so confused.

    This morning, I have awoken to another wet doona – I’m running out of bedding quickly. But Zeb seems better after having painkillers. He has been drinking water and will get up and move around instead of lying impassive as he was just yesterday morning.

    Honestly, I just want to get these test results and know where we stand.

  24. Melissa

    Shit I’ve just read it. What a nightmare. Just want you to get the results now so you can see your way forward.

  25. MJ

    That’s really tough and shitty for you. Rock and a hard place. No wonder you feel messy, I would too. And poor Zeb. I really hope the tests show it’s something that can easily (therefore cheaply) be fixed. If I had to suddenly find $1500, I don’t know where I would look.

    That being said, I’m all for euthanasia… doesn’t make it any easier, though. x

  26. Ladybird

    I’ve read alot of your stuff over the years my friend, and this is perhaps my favourite. Brilliant. Maybe not technically brilliant – but I’m never about that. I’m about real and feel.
    Replace Zeb with my two dogs and this is me, verbatim. Everytime we take Toby to get him stitched back up, I vow things will change. They never do.

    Love you, xx.


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