Work is a safe haven

Our cat has been peeing on everything. He especially likes the our bed sheets and my younger son's shirts.

Finally we took the cat to the vet and it turns out he had crystals in his bladder. I'm not going into the chemistry lesson of acid and base and crystals. Mostly because I couldn't follow the vet's explanation, but the bottom line was that we had to do medicine for three days and then special food.

For a while, the cat was well enough to follow Melissa around the house and cuddle in between the curl of her legs whenever she lay down.

The problem is we feed twenty barn cats. And two house cats. Three house cats if you count the outside cat that we can't keep outside. And four if you count the dog, who wont' stop eating the cat food.

So all the animals were eating the very expensive medical cat food, and before I could figure out what to do, the cat was peeing on everything again.

It turns out the cat cannot have any other food. So we would have to have only very expensive cat food, for all the cats, and every time the sick cat got table scraps, we'd have to get the crystal medicine again.

So we had to decide: Do we kill the cat because we don't want to buy expensive cat food?

No. That felt very bad.

So we waited a few days to try to figure things out.

Then the cat was in huge pain because he couldn't pee.

Now I felt I could put him to sleep for being in pain. A more clear cut decision.

The vet said if the cat can't pee he needs an operation. We watched him try to pee. He couldn't.

We sat the kids down and told them it was time for the cat to die.

We said goodbye to the cat. Who, by now, smelled a lot like I'd imagine something smells before death.

Melissa and I went to the vet while the kids and the Farmer dug a hole in our pet cemetery. (Does every family have one of these?)

The vet squashed the cat's belly and said, “We were able to clear the urinary tract and expel urine. So you just need to treat him with medicine and keep him on the special food.”

I looked at the cat. He was purring in the vet's arms.

I looked at Melissa. She was crying. “He's such a good cat,” she said.

It's true, he's a good cat. But we can't keep him on the special food. And we live in a part of the world where people shoot extra cats for fun — they don't adopt old cats with expensive dietary needs.

I asked the vet if she thought it was immoral.

The vet said, “I don't pass judgment.”

I put the cat to sleep.

Was it okay to put the cat to sleep? I don't know. But I'll tell you. It's why I like work so much better than real life.

In work things are clear cut. There is a goal, and you can measure which action gets you to the goal fastest. There are laws to tell you what you can do and what you can't do.

Here's a site that advertises online MBAs programs. They offered to pay me to link to them. Melissa said, “I don't know if you want to. You hate business school.”

It's true, I do think business school is lame. But so what? This is not an ethical issue. They are paying me.

Also, it's a great site. They have such a good marketing strategy: They create a great infographic that gives people a reason to link to them, and then they rank high on Google for the words Women in Business, and then they get referral money for getting women to pay for MBA programs.

I love this business. (And, based on how creative it is, I'm nearly certain that the person who thought of it does not have an MBA.)

Sometimes I think I want to be a stay-at-home mom. I want to just be with my kids. It's so nice to be with my kids. But kids and families are filled with difficult questions like, When can you kill your cat? It's so comforting to be able to wake up in the morning and answer the question: Who should I link to today?



195 replies
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  1. Razmataz
    Razmataz says:

    Is it a farm animal or a pet? I would have put the cat food up high out of the dogs reach and used the extra money from linking to the business school to buy the expensive food.

    • Jenny
      Jenny says:

      AGREED! Problem solved. But the poor cat is dead.
      On the other hand, if you weren’t prepared to care for the cat, better to have the cat humanely killed than for him to be in pain. At least you’re honest.
      Pretty awful though.

      • Deedee
        Deedee says:

        I think people are missing the point about the special food. You can keep the dogs and non-sick cats away from the special food, but how would you keep the sick cat from eating the food that’s set out for the other animals. That’s why her crystals came back, because she could ONLY eat the special food. Therefore, the special food would have to be the only food available in the house.

        Unless you guys who think the refrigerator solves the problem have cats who are a LOT more trainable than mine. My sick cat wouldn’t not she couldn’t nibble on the food meant for the not-sick cats.

    • Allison
      Allison says:

      I have a dog with the same expensive bladder stone issues. The dog is miserable, has bladder infections all of the time and has been required to have surgery 3 times to remove them (my dog is only 8 years old). My husband and I love the dog, but the condition she has is painful for her. Sometimes the humaine choice is the only choice – and we have decided to put her down if the stones come back. What Penelope is not addressing here is that the food is not the fix all for this problem. The food can help prevent the issue but will not cure it – and the crystals can and do reappear in spite of the expensive food.

  2. Ken Wolman
    Ken Wolman says:

    You let a cat go when it can’t be a cat anymore. Meaning what? In my case, my cats developed liver cancer, or when the cat aged into immobility. It was still a horrible choice because I was holding onto the second cat to satisfy my own vanity and need, being inattentive to the misery the cat was enduring because it could not jump or keep down food. We medicated it–it ate but could not gain weight. Was I selfish? Probably, to hang onto the cat when it was no longer itself and was beyond any cure. At 17 I let her go. I’ve never cried so much in my life. We learn, if we’re fortunate, to see past our own vanity and need, to see what makes the cat itself and know when to release it. It is brutally painful but it is most often the right thing for the cat and for its “owner.”

  3. Ann
    Ann says:

    “Was it okay to put the cat to sleep?”

    No it wasn’t. It was a lazy solution. You could put the cat somewhere secure to eat its own food – like in a crate. What’s the point of scientists making these medicines and special foods for pets if you kill them instead of treating them? Then, no one buys the medicines and there’s no incentive for scientists to research more new treatments.
    Even worse, the fact that stupid gun-toting rustic Americans would shoot helpless cats for sport causes no surprise. Just disgust.

    • Crystal
      Crystal says:

      @Ann: ok. Keeping the cat alive so we can keep capitalism alive (by ensuring we will continue to create new drugs and special food)– now that is lame. It shows just how far off the morality cliff we as a society have fallen.
      pen, I just wish you would trust your gut on these things and not ask everyone else what to do. You just open yourself up for criticism and worse, judgement. And we all know how much everyone wants to judge other people. Keeps their minds off their own problems.
      If you wanted to kill the cat, then it was ok to kill the cat. Nobody else’s business. You are a good person and good people get to make their own decisions about their pets. All the readers who don’t agree well they know where the delete button is.
      I love your stories, and this one makes you very real.

    • razorbacker
      razorbacker says:

      Even worse, the fact that stupid gun-toting rustic Americans would shoot helpless cats for sport causes no surprise. Just disgust.

      My cat has the run of the house, and acts as though he believes that he is king of the entire outdoors, too boot. That’s fine. He is a working animal, and performs a vital service. He keeps rodents and other pests from living in my house, and provides much-needed stress reduction (few things are more calming that petting a cat).

      Feral cats are something else. I do not allow them on my property. I enjoy the songbirds, chipmunks, squirrels, voles, deer mice, crickets, frogs and most all the other animals that share my property. A feral cat will kill, on average, three animals per day. That is just what they do, and nothing that you do or say will change that. Feral cats also compete with the bobcat family that lives on the hill above the house. I prefer the bobcats, and the other small creatures, to the feral cats.

      I am not so much shooting feral cats as I am protecting the other living creatures. Sometimes, you do what has to be done, no matter how much it grief it brings to you. I do so wish that urban dwellers would consider that before taking their no-longer-wanted pets to ‘live a good life in the country’. You are condemning that poor creature to a nasty, brutish, and short life.

      But, if you will provide your shipping address, I will be glad to live-trap them and sent them your way.

  4. chris Keller
    chris Keller says:

    For all of us who have had pets of any kind, we have had similar painful decisions to make about them. I have felt the guilt and shed many a tear over a “mere” pet that had to be put down.

    It really doesn’t have anything to do with being a stay-at-home mom v a working mom. Or, maybe I should say, work will not provide a way out of this type of dilemma.

    It is a chance for values clarification. A teachable moment for your sons.

    Finding out what the Farmer thinks/feels and what Melissa thinks/feels and how the boys think/feel and react is so highly instructive that I see it as an opportunity . . .

    There is only one way to avoid the pain. Lead a streamlined, simple and sterile life. Minimalistic. No extras, including no pets and no kids.

  5. redrock
    redrock says:

    but… it is exactly and ethical issue: you think business school is lame, or completely useless depending on which blogpost one reads, and then you take money for advertising. Which means you are not true to your conviction, and this makes it an ethical issue. Money trumped your conviction in a heartbeat. And honestly I still don’t get it… higher education is a privilege without it we still would live like in the middle ages (at best).

  6. Sealz
    Sealz says:

    I’m teaching my cat who gets crystals in his bladder to read so he can see that he’s supremely lucky to live with me, a person who’s willing to buy the expensive medicated food.

  7. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    You should not have killed the cat. It isn’t that hard to develop systems with your pets to ensure their health, safety, and survival. Like yeah, if Melissa liked the cat so much, maybe should could have given her the food in her room, while crying about being 27 and single. Geez, ladies! Wow! What a meanie! Or meanies?

  8. Carl
    Carl says:

    The value of graduate business school is related to:
    1 – What you intend to do with the degree.
    2 – How much practical skill comes from the experience.
    3 – The quality of the instructors.
    4 – Being able to learn with and from fellow students.

    This list can be added to of course, these came to mind based on my work experience and having gone back to school after starting my work career (not for an MBA.)

    My wife nursed a sick chicken for 3 months once, ultimately it kept getting worse and worse and couldn’t eat unless it was hand fed. Everyone will tell you what they would have done or what you should have done, you have to decide for yourself, which you did.

    Whatever happened to Melissa’s BF?

    • Kevin
      Kevin says:

      Melissa's BF? We’ll never know for sure, but I’m starting to wonder if they put him down too. He was on the bed and there’s no telling what he ate.

  9. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    I don’t think it was “wrong” for you to put the cat down. A sad decision to make, but not a “wrong” one. Many people (myself included) make inconvenient and expensive accommodations for their pets, and it’s great that they’re able to do that and choose to, but I don’t think it’s a moral obligation. You had the choice between two actions or inaction; one of the actions you weren’t willing to do (expensive/inconvenient accommodations for the cat), and inaction would have been far more cruel to the cat (an increasingly horrible condition that would lead to painful death) – the remaining possibility was to put the cat down, and when considered logically in the context of your circumstances, it was a perfectly fine (if not difficult and sad) choice to make. Please don’t feel too bad. [Also, I bet almost none of the people who say you shouldn’t have killed the cat would have been willing to take the cat off your hands and make those accommodations for it themselves.]

  10. Colleen Chen
    Colleen Chen says:

    I think it was okay to kill the cat, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it, or that you’re a mean person. If you kept her alive, she’d have continued to suffer and lived with less dignity. So many cats who are healthy are put to sleep every day and we kill so many other domestic animals for food, many of them just as or more intelligent and capable of feeling as cats.

    I live in Brazil where we have a young dog who likes to kill chickens. If we don’t manage to train him to stop going after the chickens, we’ll have to do either get rid of him or have him life a compromised lifestyle where he’s locked up all day long. My husband has even considered killing him, because no one in the countryside will take a dog who kills chickens. (We will probably not do this though). Domestic animals are for human use, and that’s the bottom line; we treat them with as much compassion as we are able, but it’s taking anthropomorphization of animals to an impractical extreme when we try to save all of them to the detriment of everyone involved.

    I appreciate your openness on this blog, even when people pass judgment on you! Thank you for that.

  11. ResuMAYDAY
    ResuMAYDAY says:

    I don’t even like cats but I still would have known to feed the cat in a closed room away from the other animals. This cat when through a lot of unnecessary suffering because the humans couldn’t control the animals. Yikes.

    • Twister
      Twister says:

      Cat+expensive cat food go in a different room come feeding time. Or a cupboard. Take the dishes out, throw the cat in. After all the other animals have eaten, pick up their food and let the cat back out. Get the kids to do it, teach them how to micromanage.

      You are an incredibly intelligent person who thinks outside the box, so the fact that you didn’t come up with that, or even try to come up with that, (or ask for help to come up with that) is the part that is wrong. Yes, being stupid would have made this less wrong. You didn’t do your best.

      I grew up on a farm, I know the great pains my dad took to try to see animals as “just animals” but he also taught me that if you take responsibility for an animal you take responsibility for keeping it alive and healthy too. That means expensive cat food.

      And other people shooting cats for fun does not at all justify what you did (or rather, didn’t) do.

      Next time, ask your blogosphere for help. Even if you were just using the “expensive cat food” as an excuse to put down your cat and didn’t really want help, I might guess one of your many many blog and twitter followers might have been willing to actually TAKE THE CAT.

      • Jennifer B
        Jennifer B says:

        If keeping the cat alive were a real priority, more of an effort would’ve been made to find a way to do so. It wasn’t a priority, which is fine I guess, but I’d feel better about it if you just said that rather than trying to justify putting the cat down.

  12. Jeff
    Jeff says:

    Animals are not human no matter how much some people try to think they are.

    Countless healthy animals are put down every day just because someone doesn’t want it.

    One could fashion a utilitarian argument that it is unethical to keep a sick animal when a healthy animal may die. Put down the healthy animal and adopt a healthy one.

    • JS
      JS says:

      yes but humans are animals. If you keep animals you have a responsibility – this was selfishness all around anyway you look at it.

  13. Dave
    Dave says:

    I can empathize with Penelope on this, it’s hard to realize the strain the responsibility for a sickly creature is.

    Faced with a similar decision, I went with the more expensive food. It was about 3 times as much as the cheaper stuff, but the cost really paled in comparison to vet bills. In the end, it didn’t matter so much as they only survived another couple weeks before passing on. I figured I owed them at least that much in terms of the mental stability they helped to bring me in rough times.

    It’s so easy to speculate about what would have happened but you really don’t know how you would react in a similar situation. Mulling over what could have been doesn’t change the past, and passing judgement doesn’t help to make the future better either.

    In terms of business lacking grey area, I would disagree and caution you to only promote products and services which you really believe in. It’s far easier to kill your integrity than to rebuild it. If you feel that an MBA is valuable sometimes, then it’s okay to advertise to your readers as many of them might fit into that category. If you feel MBAs shouldn’t exist at all, then by posting ads for them it would send the message that your integrity can be bought, regardless of what the reality of the situation might be.

    Just my .02

  14. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    I always liked pregnancy for similar reasons. All one had to do was eat food, drink water, and sleep, and one could be assured of contributing to someone’s well-being.

  15. Amy Parmenter
    Amy Parmenter says:

    Frankly, I’ve had a urinary tract infection and I wanted to kill myself. Hope Melissa doesn’t get one!! M — if the farmer picks up a shovel, run.

    Great post Penelope — and I think this is the very reason many of us become consumed by our jobs. All you have to do is follow the rules.

    Amy Parmenter
    The ParmFarm

  16. Brigitte
    Brigitte says:

    I don’t know what the right decision is in this situation, but I made the opposite choice with my cat. My guy was hospitalized 3 times for crystals, and then last time we had the surgery.

    It was rough, and caring for him in the 2 week aftermath was heart-wrenching.

    But now I get to tell people that my cat had a gender re-assignment surgery. I love the looks on their faces!

  17. sandra Jonas
    sandra Jonas says:

    I can’t believe you put the cat down. You should really not have any animals. When you get a pet you take on RESPONSIBILITY. Just like being a parent. When the going gets tough will you give your children away?

    • sophie
      sophie says:

      Owning a pet is a responsibility, yes. But it is NOT equatable to having children. Children are people. A cat is an animal. There’s a very big difference, honey.

      If medical expenses for an animal cause stress or financial hardship for a family, like, say, take away from the children, the line becomes drawn. The children come first. They are human after all.

  18. Karen
    Karen says:

    Yes, it was the wrong decision, as is linking to a business school you think is “lame,” which is almost always the wrong word to use. With this triple crown of failure, which is much less ridiculous than so many other posts of yours, but somehow the final straw for me, I am done reading you.

  19. Ken Wolman
    Ken Wolman says:

    You want to watch your animal die a slow and often painful death? I did it. No, they are not human beings. They are cats or dogs. We have the power to release them from suffering, present or imminent. The guilt is from holding onto them too long, based on sentimentality and anthropomorphizing them into things they cannot be: human beings.

  20. AJ
    AJ says:

    Please don’t have any more animals especially if you can’t afford to take care of them properly. I am done with this blog.

  21. cheryl
    cheryl says:

    Honestly, the more expensive food is better for all the cats. The cheap food is NOT real food – and not good for any animal. If you’re going to have a pet, then make a commitment to it, and accept that you have to be willing to feed it good quality food. And if that means you can’t afford to support 20 cats – so be it. Get them fixed, so you don’t have more babies coming your way, and your problem will be solved.

  22. Laurie
    Laurie says:

    For 4 months our beautiful 11 year old cat, Arthur, pooped in very large puddles…on our carpet…wood floors…it was pardon the pun, “catastrophic”!

    He would not use the litter box. Of course we took him to the vet who said try this med and this very expensive low residue cat food. Yes, our other two cats and our Golden Retriever loved the food too no matter how hard and clever we thought we were keeping it away from them.

    I did my own research online and concluded along with the vet that Arthur had one of two problems ( we chose not to spend mega $$$ on surgeries and biopsies as we couldn’t afford them)…Inflamed Bowel Syndrome or Feline Leukemia. After money spent on vet bills, professional carpet cleaning, lots of paper towels and cleaning supplies and lots of prayers…we too decided that putting Arthur down was the only choice. He had no quality of life and was a walking skeleton.

    On a Saturday we decided that the following Monday was going to be the day. Well…on Monday, we found a “gift”…a solid little poop in the litter box. Somehow…miraculously…our beloved Arthur who I found in a Brooklyn subway station at just 5 weeks old in 2000 started his road to recovery. Looking back, I can’t believe that we dealt with that mess for so long but we are sure happy and grateful we did. So is Arthur!

  23. sandy
    sandy says:

    “Was it okay to put the cat to sleep?”

    No it wasn’t. You killed a cat with a treatable illness. In fact there’s an operation for cats with this condition that eliminates the need for expensive food and medicine. Instead you took the EASY way out and killed the cat. You should not have pets.

    • Tiffany
      Tiffany says:

      I agree completely. I have been in this exact same situation (we had a cat that we called the Golden Kitty because of all of the late-night emergency vet visits for UTIs) and we were given two options: expensive food with the potential for more blockages, or a surgery that effectively desexes the cat but makes it so that blockages will not happen again. We didn’t have the money up front so we went with option one, and the cat eventually succumbed to a different illness and it was very sad.

      I’m sorry if your vet did not propose option 2 to you, but you should have tried to find another home for the cat and looked at your other options and really thought about how to make it work. A pet is not a toy and can’t just be discarded because it’s not working properly. And UTIs and urine crystals are not huge problems as long as you take care of them.

  24. Ken Wolman
    Ken Wolman says:

    I DID have the vet medicate the cat with steroids to kickstart her failing appetite. It did not work. She kept losing weight and getting weaker. It was horrible to watch. To repeat, not that anyone will hear me: cats are not human. They’re cats and they can’t tell you when they want to go. My second, Pushkin, sat by the refrigerator on a hot day, to keep warm. She did not act afraid when I put her in the carrying box. She seemed grateful because she saw her release coming. Am *I* anthropomorphizing? When is enough enough? Did I want to see the cat suffer? No. Because if she was not in pain, she could not move or defend herself against the dog, who grieved when she died. The morning I took her to the vet to be put down, the dog yowled and bark like he was losing his best friend, which in some ways she was. She was a feisty cat who, when she was at full strength, would wham, the dog in the nose. She could not do that anymore. So it was cruel to let her go? Should I not have adopted her or any animal at all, knowing she was mortal and bound to died sooner or later? Pushkin was one of the great loves of my life and I weep for her to this day. If I could post pictures here, then I would.

  25. Ennie
    Ennie says:

    You can kill the cat and link to the crappy website, but we will judge you as lazy and greedy when you tell us about it.

    If you’re okay with that (and clearly you are) then go for it. I’m just glad I’m not you.

  26. Ken Wolman
    Ken Wolman says:

    I wasn’t “okay with it” but I was less okay with letting the cat becoming increasingly immobilized and broken. You pretend animal lovers nauseate me. So ends my part in this vile discussion.

  27. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    You sat the kids down and told them it was time for the cat to die. They said goodbye to the cat. You and Melissa went to the vet while the Farmer and the kids dug a hole in the pet cemetery.
    All the wheels were set in motion for the cat to be put down by the vet. However, the vet was able to clear the urinary tract and expel urine. Back to square one. Now you just need to treat him with medicine and keep him on the special food which you were not able to do in the first place.
    So now what are you supposed to do? Bring the cat back home and possibly have to go through the goodbyes a second time? It is hard for the family to decide to put down a family pet. I think the decision was already made while the hole was being dug. You did your job by bringing the cat to the vet initially and trying the medicine and special cat food. The vet did her job. I can think of worst scenarios.

  28. Roberta
    Roberta says:

    My son is nursing a very sick cat right now. It is expensive. And he is still not working, plus he cannot go away overnight because the cat gets intravenous injections every night.

    He is keeping the cat alive at a high cost to his own well being. I have tried to convince him to let the cat go but he is not ready yet. When I was a kid it was so much easier to decide. There were no extraordinary measures available to keep pets alive. They got sick, you went to the vet, the vet said the animal needs to be put down. Case closed.

    Now animal medicine has become like people medicine. I had a friend who spent thousands putting his cat on chemo! I am sorry, if something happens to my cat, as much as I love her, I will not spend my life savings to extend her life but a few months. And what kind of life is that for the animal anyway?
    Don’t beat yourself up. Also, as you say cats on a farm are not like a cat in an apartment. There are way too many to worry about one of them like that. As much as you like that cat.

  29. Lynette Jensen
    Lynette Jensen says:


    I think you have very eloquently and subtly expressed a very essential point about the place of work in our lives.

    No matter how important we think we are at work or in the world, it’s the significant things in life that matter and sometimes, if they’re domestic, they can be dismissed as small or trivial. Complex philosophical and emotional decisions (including life and death) are at the heart of our humanity and life experience. You’ve shown how paradoxically, work, with all it’s complexities, rules and regulations, relationship management and decision making, is simple really in contrast to the essential issues we can face in life.

    And you’ve said it with compassion, irony, and grace – well done.


  30. PJ
    PJ says:

    Animals are such beautiful and soulful creatures, but sometimes we have to let them go. I had a cat with a similar problem and she ruined two rooms in two different houses over many years, but I kept her alive until I couldn’t do it any longer. When the carpet was removed she had used almost every inch of the room as her litter box. It’s a tough decision, but I don’t think you did something wrong. I think you have to think of the hygienic aspect of this for your children as well. Another time, I had a litter of kittens in California and they were all dying of fleas. The only way to save some of them was to give them blood transfusions at a great expense. I was so confused, because my young children loved them. I called a friend who had many cats and had grown up in a rural area. He said, “Pam, there will be other cats.” With great difficulty I explained it to my children and let them go. I believe I did the right thing, but it was certainly not easy.

  31. Bonnie
    Bonnie says:

    What a very sad and difficult decision you had to make. Others should not judge, as the saying goes, you can not make judgements about another person, till you have walked a mile in their shoes.

  32. heather
    heather says:

    i don’t know why the argument of whether pets are human even comes up. they are living things we take into our homes and our care, and if you choose to adopt one, you have a commitment to treat it well. the only reason this cat was suffering is because nobody would follow the simple instructions to treat it. twice!

    the choice here wasn’t about the morality of killing a cat, it was where to draw the line between convenience and the disposability of a pet. if you can live with the idea that your animals are disposable the minute they inconvenience you by requiring more care than laying food out on the floor, so be it, but that’s the choice that was made here.

  33. lee
    lee says:

    I’m removing myself from your blog. 1) it was immoral to end your cat’s life, a simple solution was to feed the cat in a separate room at feeding time. 2) your values, if you don’t believe in mba business schoo, you have no right linking your blog–stand up for what you belive in.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I’m not sure why I chose this comment to respond to among so many annoying comments. But the common theme among the annoying comments is not following the content of my post.

      First: We live on a farm. We feed more than 1000 animals at any given time, including 20 cats. The only way to keep the sick cat from eating the other animal food on the farm would be to lock the cat in a basement for its whole life. The way you simplify the problem, having no idea how a farm works, or how my particular household works, is breathtaking.

      Second: Linking to a site that has extraordinary marketing does not compromise my values.


      • Sandy
        Sandy says:

        I don’t retract my comments at all. There is a simple operation to address this problem in male cats. It doesn’t appear from Penelope’s original post that any consideration was given to that option at all. It has nothing to do with life on a farm. And again this was a pet and not a farm animal being raised for slaughter.

        Penelope posed the question “Was it okay to put the cat to sleep? I don't know”. I suspect the “nnoying” comments were the ones that disagreed with the decision to put the cat to sleep.

      • marlene
        marlene says:

        Your answer Penelope was pretty lame. I coudn’t agree more with Sandy. I think I find that post so disappointing because the last previous four were so awesome.

        Anyway the difference between a pet and a farm animal is not just semantic. And about the links, remember that you get money for them because you built an audience that now trusts you enough. Break that trust and you’ll see what you get. You don’t believe in MBAs, don’t link one, no matter how great their marketing is.

      • Celine
        Celine says:

        Since I don’t and never will subscribe to this blog, I’ll bring my comments directly to you, P, or whatever you’re calling yourself and I guarantee the others will be mild in comparison. You euthanized your cat because it was inconvenient for you to take care of it. Since you have a moocher with no future living with you, it should have been her job (at least she would have one) to take care of it since she liked it so much. As far as being a stay at home anything, you are, but from your posts your kids would be better off with their father. Your startups go nowhere until someone competent takes over. You’re not legally married to the farmer because you’re too irresponsible to pay the IRS and you’re tax dodging and trying to stay out of jail. Yeah, you’re a mom who would be my role model – NOT. You are so messed up that I’m amazed that you function at all, if that what you call it. Somehow I don’t see killing your cat as way to equate work but then you did have a miscarriage (you don’t need to bring any kid in the world) and tweeted about it like it was mo big thing and wonder why you were vilified! Now, according to your followers who have spent too much time enabling bad behavior and thinking what a good post, they need to lay off the crack. Do yourself a favor: find some stairs and throw yourself down. And don’t think I’m jealous or whatever. P, your pathology and level of being fd up makes me look that the smartest, sanest person in the world. I probably wouldn’t have gone on this rant had you not killed your cat for no good reason except you’re lazy and the dicks that are in your area that shoot cats ought to be shot themselves. Any questions??

      • Ennie
        Ennie says:

        You have got to be kidding! You’ve lived on this farm for a year or so, and suddenly your blog is all about your earthy farm existence that we could never understand.
        It is indeed possible to treat farm animals with respect, and to address them as individuals. It really is. You just don’t feel comfortable enough on your farm to realize that yet. Clearly you still feel like an outsider there, and with good reason. You don’t know what the hell you are doing, and you are playacting as the Pioneer Woman instead of just figuring out how to behave. You are not the damn Pioneer Woman, and you shouldn’t start a goat business til you get more comfortable with the entire farm milieu.
        I have to say, it seems like this post, and the several before it, are designed to alienate your readers. If you’re not bullying us and telling us what idiots we are, you’re giving us good reason to dislike you.
        By the way, do you find this comment “annoying” as well? By “annoying” do you just mean not sufficiently sycophantic? Then yes, I am TREMENDOUSLY annoying.

      • Gert
        Gert says:

        Being paid money trumps your belief system?

        OK, I’ll pay you to shoot your other cats. I’ll even create a cool marketing strategy for you to hide behind if that makes you feel better.

  34. Rose
    Rose says:

    With this post, I bet you lost a bunch of potential customers for the “humane” goat cheese.

    And really, work is full of dilemmas: should you continue doing business with your racist and homophobic client? Should you fire an employee because she has cancer and can’t travel as often?
    We may infer by this post, that your answers would be
    “yes” to both situations.

    • Anna
      Anna says:

      If running a business were as easy as “I’ll do whatever it takes to make money,” I’m afraid the need for career blogs would disappear… and hello sex trade! I’m surprised someone in your field (and with such seemingly extensive business experience) sees the business world as so black-and-white.

  35. Denys Yeo
    Denys Yeo says:

    I enjoyed this cat live-die story essentially about whether it is economically viable (in terms of time, money and effort) to feed a sick cat expensive cat food, or to have it "put down". So far it has attracted 39 comments in less than a day! I am sure there will be many more to come.
    If only we could put this much energy into discussing the economic viability of helping parents in the poorer developing countries feed their starving children "good" food. Wouldn't that be great!
    In this case the expected outcome would be clear. Find doable ways to ensure children (and adults) live!

  36. Matthew
    Matthew says:

    Hi. As for the business school, you’re right it’s a paycheck not an ethical choise. In fact, any place that helps people get an education is fine by me.

    As for the cat, I recently suffered a similar tragedy with my cat. I tried keeping her alive and then she started to forget where she was at times. I’m still not sure if she still recognised me when I had her put to sleep.

    Better too soon, than too late people told me afterwards. At least you weren’t too late.

  37. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    I understand that you may not have the money or the patience to deal with a pet with health problems, but deliberately avoiding treatment (causing the animal suffering) while you “think about it” was wrong. Putting the cat in its own room during feedings isn’t particularly difficult. Not giving the cats (or that one cat) table scraps isn’t difficult. That kind of food is not healthy for pets to begin with. If you had to send the cat to a shelter, knowing that you were not up to that level of care, then fine. At least there was a chance the animal would be adopted out, and if not, it would have been put down without being in pain. Waiting for the cat to become very ill and then putting the cat down anyway was cruel.

  38. SSS
    SSS says:

    Penelope, your problem should not have gotten to the point of being an ethical problem. Your problem was – you don’t know diddly squat about biochemistry (your own and your kids and your cats, just for starters) – and your vet doesn’t known diddly squat either. Obviously.

    Cats are carnivores. The phrase most often used is “obligate carnivore.” Must eat meat.

    Meat contains the amino acid taurine. Cats need a lot of taurine. It has a lot to do with water transfer, hence the bladder-urinary problem. Water transfer, get it?

    Commercial cat food is crap. Whether it’s “special” or not. Cats need MEAT. That’s one reason that barn cats do okay; they get mice and other little critters.

    Wonder why a well-fed cat — a house cat that’s allowed to go outside — will catch birds, mice, etc? MEAT.

  39. HB
    HB says:

    Wow, you took a lot of heat from people who clearly have no clue about life on a farm. Sad, but you did what you needed to do to prevent your cat from having ongoing painful issues. Good for you. Anyone who says otherwise clearly only has one thing to do in life: monitor their cat’s food intake. It’s a major gray area, this “when to euthanize” decision, and you are right–it’s nice to go back to work where you don’t have such terrible gray-ness. After all, you likely will not have to decide when to euthanize an employee. Yeah yeah, make all the comparisons between euthanizing and firing. Never the same.

    • chris Keller
      chris Keller says:

      Yes. Most of us are so far removed from basic laws of nature, such as survival of the fittest, which are still operative on the farm . . . We seem not to appreciate that we are running counter to the natural order with the heroic efforts available through veterinary medicine.

      I think many of us are also out of touch with the principle of letting go. Although it is hard to know WHEN to let go.

      I am a mom who is a Momster, that is, I am the cop and the hard-liner in my family. The tough-love person. Maybe Penelope
      has a similar role in her family. It is an honest perspective/role.

      I am also guessing that the Farmer, having grown up on a farm, understands the living-and-dying-naturally of farm life.

      Those of Penelope’s readers who cannot stomach this, who are quitting, should ask themselves why they don’t want to stretch to understand survival strategies, tough decisions, boundary-setting, natural consequences, etc.

      Come on, folks, do you never imagine or put yourself in the place of our ancestors, living their natural lives, pre-industrial, where this kind of thing was the stuff of everyday living?

      • Rose
        Rose says:

        @ Chris Keller – great comment! the deal is, this blogger is trying to sell over-priced “humane” goat cheese. Isn’t it contradictory?
        If her readers are still willing to buy her products, that would only confirm their gullibility.

      • Lisa
        Lisa says:

        Yes, the contradiction between creating a business to sell humane goat cheese, and then letting the cat get incredibly sick so that she would have an easier decision about putting it down is what bothered me. Care for the cat or put the cat down, but make the decision humanely.

  40. Jo
    Jo says:

    I really liked your posts, but don’t think I’ll be reading any more. I am an animal lover, I find it hard to read that after your vet did their best to fix the problem you still put the animal down. Like others have said, you could have just fed the cat in a separate room. That seems a no-brainer to me. Also you could have investigated other remedies like homeopathy to treat your cat. :(

    • Jo
      Jo says:

      Homeopathy is real. been using it for years. But if you live in the US you probably don’t know that because you’ve been brainwashed by the medical industrial complex!

      • Sealz
        Sealz says:

        Just because the medical industrial complex is evil does not mean they are always wrong. Homeopathy is no more effective than placebos.

    • Holly
      Holly says:

      Penelope has stated twice now that the problem was not keeping other animals away from the sick cat’s food but keeping the sick cat away from all the other food laying around the farm. If the sick cat ate from any food bowl other than its own it would have likely developed crystals again. Hence, the cat would have had to be locked up all day every day.

  41. ca
    ca says:

    Just because you live on a farm, this does not make this cat a farm animal. You made the distinction between this cat being your pet (living in your house, snuggling with you and your friend and kids) and those that are not pets, but part of the farm brood (the barn cats).

    And for those commenters who tell us not to judge, Miss Penelope ASKED for our opinion.

  42. Sandy
    Sandy says:

    Let’s not confuse things here.

    – The cat was a pet who was kept in the house.
    – Penelope could ave fed the at in a closed room
    – Penelope could have popped for the operation which pretty much cures this condition in cats.

    Years ago I had a male cat with crystals that blocked him and he couldn’t urinate. He was 2. After trying medicine I opted for the operation. He lived for 17 more happy cat years. This is a treatable condition.

    Penelope seemed to stress the “very expensive cat food”. I guess very expensive is relative. But I buy prescription cat food for one of my current cats and it doesn’t break the bank. I assume Penelope is still getting a salary from Brazen Careerist. I know she just presold a bunch of books to folks and gave 2 free laptops to the boys supposedly helping her with her start up.

    So I don’t think that money is the issue. I think what Penelope did here was to take the easy solution. She was presented with a cat who was purring, peeing and good to go for the moment. But I’m sure she was thinking of that “very expensive cat food”. And for some reason she never worked through all of the options -like feeding the cat in a separate room, getting a large carrier or cage and feeding the cat there. Getting the operation that eliminates the problem.

    She took the easy out and killed the cat.

    • Brad
      Brad says:

      Money not the issue? She needed 1000 bucks from the farmer to pay an attorney to keep her out of jail.

      • EngineerChic
        EngineerChic says:

        And she gets her eyebrows waxes in Los Angeles …

        So, Mommy can afford a few hundred bucks when her brows need grooming but tells the kiddos that the poor kitty has to die because it’s too expensive to care for it correctly. There are a LOT of low-ash cat foods that are safe for cats who have a tendency for crystals in their urine. They cost more than Meow-Mix, but are not OTT expensive for an average person.

        Compared to flying to LA for brow waxing it seems like a bargain, in fact.

  43. john
    john says:

    When you have a farm, you often make these decisions. What is best for the whole farm? Will I be able to keep this behavior up indefinitely? Will the animal ever get better?
    You are learning what most farmers have known forever, if you can’t lose them, you shouldn’t have them.
    I cried the last time I made that decision. It was my dog and his name was Gatsby. Still miss him. Been 10 years. Still, we had to do it, and would do it again if I had to.
    Good luck.

  44. hsg
    hsg says:

    Sandy’s eloquent response above captures everything I wanted to say. You made a bad decision. There were several solutions to your problem and you chose the easiest, cheapest, most unethical one. You sacrificed the life of your pet to spare yourself a modest amount of inconvenience.

    What’s done is done, but you need to acknowledge that you do not have what it takes to own a pet cat. You should make a promise to yourself and your family to never, ever, EVER, get another cat. You are not able to prioritise the needs and rights of your pet: if a similar situation arises, you will make a similar decision. Please be honest with yourself and do not replace the cat.

  45. Scott
    Scott says:

    These are questions you should decide before you bring an animal into your home. If you are not willing to sacrifice by doing something as simple as more expensive food, don’t bring the animal into your home.

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