“I didn't want to hear what was being said, but at the same time, I had to be logical and make the right decision. Honestly, I wanted to say ‘Just keep him alive somehow, at all costs.’”
Johan Sosa received Bailey, a light tan domestic shorthair cat, in 2001 from a friend who could no longer take care of a pet due to frequent travel commitments for work. At that time, Johan was 24 years old while Bailey was only a couple-month old kitten.
Quickly, Johan got used to having Bailey around. He took his cat with him when he moved from Massachusetts to New York and then from New York to the Bay Area in California.
Johan said that Bailey was very inquisitive and often behaved more like a puppy than a cat, as he was very affectionate. People always loved him and he always loved people.
“I heard this was unusual for a cat, but whenever you said his name, he would
instantly come running,” Johan said. “There would be no time where you would have to
call him a few times. He’d always instantly come.”
March 20, 2020 began like a regular day during the COVID-19 quarantine. Johan woke up at 10 a.m., had cereal for breakfast and sat down to login to his work VPN. He heard Bailey meow softly in an unusual way, but didn’t think much of it since Bailey was healthy and was acting normally otherwise. Although his cat was 19 (similar to about 90 in human years), Johan had never considered how quickly Bailey could disappear from his life.
“I definitely always tried to make sure he was happy,” Johan said. “I didn’t think he was sick.”
That evening, Johan found his cat lying on the bathroom floor, gasping for air. Johan thought that Bailey tried to look at him, but perhaps he had imagined it. Bailey could barely move his head.
I had never seen him in a state like that,” Johan said. “I knew something was seriously wrong. I just thought about how if something was to happen to him, how upset I would be.”
Immediately, Johan dropped to his knees and cradled Bailey in his arms. He grabbed the cat crate and lay Bailey inside, trying to stabilize him before rushing to his car.
During the 10 minute drive to the vet, he kept on thinking about whether there was something he could have noticed or some way he could have figured out that Bailey was suffering. He kept on asking, “Could I have gotten him help earlier?”
Beside Johan, Bailey lay in his crate on the passenger seat, unmoving except for his eyes, which were fleeting from side to side. Periodically, he let out ragged gasps for air.
Dread tore through Johan every time Bailey gasped and went still. He worried that he hadn’t noticed Bailey’s discomfort in time; he was afraid that Bailey would die right there in his cat crate, alone and in pain.
“Bailey, hang in there,” he kept on telling his cat.
Johan had called the veterinarian office in advance, so the vets came out and took Bailey into the building as soon as Johan pulled into the parking lot. Johan waited in his car as Bailey was examined, hoping for the best, yet fearing the worst.
After two hours of imaging and x-rays, the veterinarians confirmed that Bailey had a very aggressive throat cancer and there was nothing that they could do. Any type of intervention would just cause more suffering and wouldn't extend his life by more than a few hours or days. The best option, they said, would be euthanasia.
“I didn't want to hear what was being said, but at the same time, I knew I had to be logical and make the right decision,” Johan said. “Honestly, I wanted to say ‘Just keep him alive somehow, at all costs.’”
Although it pained him, Johan decided that it would be selfish to prolong Bailey’s suffering. He wanted to do whatever he could to minimize his cat’s discomfort. With tears at the corner of his eyes, he hugged Bailey close to him as the vets prepared the chemical injection that would shut down his pet’s heart and brain functions, making him unconscious.
“I got to hold Bailey and pet him while they were injecting him,” he said. “I hope he knew that someone was there for him, trying to make things better.”
He kept on thinking about whether he had truly given Bailey the best life possible. Had he bought every type of toy that Bailey could have had fun with? Had he fed his pet the right cat food? Had he given Bailey enough attention and love?
After Bailey went limp in Johan’s arms, Johan began wondering if there was an afterlife for cats.
“I hope that someday the answers can come,” he said. “I don't really know if there is something after [life], but if there is, I definitely want to meet Bailey and ask, “Did I do the right thing — opting for euthanasia?”
Although Johan continues to have doubts about his choice, he has accepted Bailey’s death. Still, he misses how Bailey would frantically chase around a laser pointer light and find places around the house to hide. He keeps expecting Bailey to suddenly jump onto his bed.
“Bailey could sense when you were feeling a bit low, Johan said. “He would come and sit next to you or start purring and nudging you to pet him. He would always be near the door when I came home.”
Johan said that Bailey never acted up if Johan came home late or didn’t pet him. In that sense, he believes humans can learn a lot from animals.
“He would always be happy to see me and he would always be forgiving of anything,” Johan said. “He was very tolerant of things. I learned about being able to let things go from Bailey.”
Johan hasn’t considered getting another cat because “there’s only going to be one Bailey.” But if another cat happened to come into his life, he said he would take care of it and try to provide it with the best life possible.