Broke down in the vet’s office discussing the way forward for Mocco, a white cat for whom I’ve been caring. Progress has been achingly slow and his kidneys have essentially shut down. I wanted to discuss specifics, but the line was, repeatedly, “He’s old. His body is just giving up.”

Yeah, he’s quite old, and his early years were rough. When he was rescued, he had been traumatised from an abusive, careless owner, and took a long time to begin to trust humans. But his new family loved him dearly and spoiled him endlessly; that trust came and his latter years have been happy (if still marked by constant fear of strangers).

Frankly, I don’t care all that much about him. Spoiled as he was, he was incredibly entitled, and treated disproportionately well. (As with humans, I believe all cats, cute or ugly, ought to be treated equally.)

Truth is, however, I care deeply about the dignity of life. When I began to process how I’d manage the final stage of his life, I wept openly. (Not for the first nor last time in that office, I’m afraid.) What killed me wasn’t thoughts of his happy life, or losing a battle I’d been fighting for a while. It was merely the wish for a painless death. I can handle death, swift or slow, but the idea of a last breath spent in agony is intolerable. For the darkness that awaits, aren’t we at least owed just one moment of peace?

He’s old, I’m told. He’s had a good life. Sure. Yet, Mocco is still alive, his body weak, his breathing heavy. I’m consumed by ensuring that when his final breath comes, whenever that is, he will have his peace.