Anyone who has pets knows the alternate joys and pains of the walks, the smells, the snuggling and whining and inconvenient late-night demands, as well as the inevitable misery of their absence once they die. If crapping on the floor was a business, some of us pet-owners would be millionaires. In The Morning News, Gregory Martin writes about his relationship with his ancient cat Tess, relating his cat’s aging to human aging, and exploring what it means to have quality of life.

How many nights in a row would Tess have to pee in the bed before enough was enough? Five? Ten?

When I think about putting Tess down because she’s driving me crazy, ravaging my sleep, I can’t help but wonder: How will things go for me someday when I’m in diapers and think that Christine is my mom?

The more I think about it, the more I think that “How much are you willing to put up with?” is not the right question. Because no matter how tired I am, the answer is always: I could put up with more. Yes, I need four cups of coffee just to get going on the day. But I am not at my limit. To say so would be ridiculous. To even suggest it is to fail to recognize how many people are, actually, at their limit, or beyond it, and not because of their old cat.

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