I spent thousands to keep my sick cat alive. I don't think I'd do it again.

My 30th came and went, and with it the (unfair and silly, not to mention one-sided) “agreement” I’d made with Kitty. I don’t know if her health truly unraveled in the weeks after that, or if it was that I finally forced myself to look at it squarely. Probably, it was a little of both. One night, she didn’t hop up on the bed with us. Later, I tried and failed to recall the last time I’d seen her unwind with some Cat TV. The weekend before her death, she hardly touched her food, even the fanciest of Fancy Feast varietals. The following Monday, she tried to walk toward me but collapsed on her side halfway there, and I couldn’t deny it any longer. I gently placed her in her carrier and headed with my boyfriend to the emergency vet for the last time.

There, the on-duty vet suggested we place her once again in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, this time for several days. It wasn’t guaranteed to help, and would bring the charges to at least $3,000. If we took her home, however, she’d almost certainly die, painfully, and within hours. (These were the options laid out for us — even then, no explicit mention of euthanasia.) Andrew and I asked for time to talk it over, and when the vet left us in the examination room, he (inadvertently, I assume) left the screen up that showed Kitty’s medical records, and we saw the alarming frequency at which she’d needed chest taps in recent months. We’d already asked so much of her; the vast financial and emotional cost suddenly seemed too great to justify. We knew what we had to do, though even still I made a last attempt to hang on. (“You can haunt us if you want!” I blurted through my tears, stupidly.)