One of the differences between cats and dogs is that cats can't really come along with you on adventures. In all of my travels I've only seen one backpacking cat, peeking out of a backpack enroute to Mount Whitney, perhaps an an HKC* attempt. So whenever I went to the woods, I always felt guilty leaving my furry pals behind.
The hardest thing about losing a pet is that you just don't know. You don't know if it was the right time to make the call, or if it was too soon. If there was something you could have done differently. If you could have spent more time with them, if you had only known.
This is the second time I've had to make the call on the operating table, and it broke my heart. The night before I took Smoke outside and he quietly watched the birds. He purred as I held him and said goodbye, just in case. It's not enough.
I brought him home fourteen and a half years ago, when I was in love with fire, and so I called him Smoke, but a lot of people liked to call him Smokey. He was cool with that. He also didn't mind vacuum cleaners, dogs, or visitors. He was a great cat. I still can't believe he's gone.