>> Thursday, April 20, 2017
If you don't like hearing about bodily fluids and anything about cat health, you may want to skip this post. Also, due to the sensitive nature, I would appreciate if comments be kind. I understand that people make different decisions. Understand that we very thoughtfully made our decisions over time and after much research and consultation with our veterinarian.
I don't have much experience with animals -- especially not in making decisions about their health. We had a cat while I was growing up, and she lived to age 16, after I graduated from college. She ended up getting cancer, losing a lot of weight, and needing to be put to sleep. It was sad. But it wasn't my decision. Earlier this week, though, we had a similar situation where Stephen and I had to make the call, and I still feel very unsettled about it. It's actually why this space has been quiet lately. All my energy has been spent.
It all started several years ago. Scully developed a health issue that had her scooting her bottom on the floor and having frequent and numerous fecal accidents all over the house. We were less than enthused about this development, but all it required was taking a trip to the vet to have a gland expressed, and then things were OK. After a while, though, the accidents and issues became even more frequent . . . much more.
We were told this would be a chronic issue despite changing foods and doing other things to help. Still, it wasn't necessarily something that was life-threatening . . . just very inconvenient and, yeah, gross. But when you have an animal for twelve years, you try to forge on.
In the last year, though, the accidents were daily. Several times daily, in fact. We dutifully did what we could to help. The treatment was starting to last less and less time and we were told there was nothing we could do beyond what we were doing to "fix" it (with dogs, there's a surgery -- but they don't perform it on cats). And I'd be lying if I said it wasn't getting to be a bit much with a newborn and a five-year-old who would find said accidents all the time.
In the last month or two, we started noticing other types of accidents. First, frequent vomiting. We took Scully to the vet and realized that she had lost two pounds in the last six months.
Nothing seemed wrong on the surface, and she had been slightly overweight in the past. But then along with the vomiting, she started peeing in strange places. First I found urine on a pile of Ada's artwork I had left in a corner on the dining room floor. Then on a pair of jeans that was folded in the basement. Then one day I smelled around Eloise's ball pit (and all along the wall in our only carpeted room), and I realized it was being used as a litter box of sorts. Like, it was the epicenter.
We took Scully to the vet where they thought maybe she had a UTI. But the accidents continued and spread. The rest of this story all happened very quickly. Scully lost even more weight. She had stopped vomiting, but we now think it's because she wasn't eating (hard to tell because she and Rivey shared a bowl). Her urine was reddish, which meant blood. When you'd pick her up, she'd howl, seemingly in pain. At our last appointment, the vet said it was clear that she was having kidney issues/failure and was certainly suffering.
The last two weeks have been a mess of researching, consulting, and generally feeling very stressed and confused and guilty. On one hand, there may have been a million and five things we could have done to extend Scully's life. I won't lie, but money was becoming an issue. On the other, it was clear that she was suffering and dealing with a major medical problem. In the meantime, our home had become dangerous. Really. We had to admit that this was becoming a health hazard for our children, as callous as it sounds. There was pee, poo, and vomit everywhere.
Stephen took Scully to her appointment on Monday not really knowing what to do, and once he got there, it was like there was a tacit understanding. We had spent a lot of time discussing whether or not we should end her suffering. The thing is, I always thought she'd be older when we were having these conversations (though the vet said that Maine Coon cats do have a shorter lifespan). She still had a certain spark of life in her eyes. We both felt like monsters thinking that this is what we needed to do. Surely we could learn to live with all the chaos. But the more we thought about it, we knew something was very wrong.
We said goodbye to Scully on Monday.
It's still a fresh and strange feeling. Loss. Playing God, in a way. I still think I'm seeing her when I come upon a dark heap of Ada's clothing on the floor or in the early morning when I simply forget what happened. What's worse is that we still don't know if we made the right decision. But, at the same time, we do. Our vet agreed wholeheartedly, having been on the whole journey with us, that she likely would not get better.
We explain what happened to Ada. She is sad, but she is taking it alright. Rivey seems confused and spends much of the day searching around the house.
I have nothing very insightful to say about what happened. I think out of it, though, I've learned that I don't really enjoy having animals if it means making gut--wrenching choices like this one. We had Scully for 12 years. We always knew this day would come, just didn't think it would be so soon.
You were a good kitty.