Cara and Maribeth
I am about to recount is purely my own experience, a personal judgment and
an accounting of nothing but my own decisions in the final months of
I too believed
that I would not put my girl down unless she was in pain. But I learned in
the course of what was ultimately a losing battle that there are agonies
other than "pain" that beg for relief.
principle for her care was the quality of her life. In the sense that I am
blessed with the means, I could have taken her to the USA (I am in Canada)
for more interventive treatment. I might have given her more fluids more
frequently, or force fed her, or given her more medications.
But I knew that
would have depressed her, made her gag, made her flinch away from me, made
her days miserable - and I couldn't do that. Her condition was terminal, I
accepted that. My mission was to always and ever make sure she was
comfortable and had the best possible quality of life. No one can say what
that is for any cat other than his/her own. No one.
The IV flush
and vitamins and cimetidine and sub-Qs we gave her following her big crash
in February 2000 gave her three more months with us. And they were good
months - as Maribeth defined "good." I felt it was my job to watch, to
assist, to enjoy her. I could have done more, medically. I didn't.
Does that make
me a bad person, or somehow lacking in judgment or heart? I don't believe
that. I knew my girl - as you know your boys and girls. Some cats can
tolerate a tremendous amount of medical intervention and thrive. I am as
certain as I am about my love for her that it would have shortened her
life, not prolonged it.
never in any pain - at least not in any pain as we understand it. But a
ruthless assessment of her daily life in the last two weeks showed me that
what I knew of my girl was ebbing away relentlessly. It was left to me,
her trusted caretaker, to judge when we had turned the corner from caring
for her to holding on for me. Seeing that corner looming, and turning it,
and doing what had to be done once it was turned, was an agonising process
- as you all know or can imagine.
I did not enjoy
being God, even part-time. It is an ugly, hurtful job. I hoped that
somehow the title would be taken away from me - that Beth would slip away
peacefully in her sleep, that I would be spared the searing pain of her
last golden look at me, of holding her small body close as her life ebbed
away, of feeling her brave heart stop beating. But there was no reprieve
Still, in my
grief today, some part of my brain is sure and certain that I made the
right decision. That morning when I came downstairs and she turned, so
slowly, and looked up at me - I knew. The best part of my girl was already
gone away, and the small frail shell that moved so hesitantly was only
awaiting my courage.
It didn't feel
like courage - despite the hopefully helpful words I have offered so
easily to others, and had offered to me as I made the decision - it didn't
feel like courage. I was wracked with fear on the brink of that decision -
one of the few one makes in life that is irrevocable. The only thing that
sustained me was the thought that Beth was counting on me to be as brave
as she had been during her fight.
She was toxic.
If I waited longer, to hope for a sunny day, to see if more fluids or
another pill or a different food would work some miracle, she might have a
seizure and be terrified. I had promised her - no pain, no fear. "Tell me
when you're ready," I had whispered, not really meaning it. I never wanted
to hear her tell me that.
But there it
was, unmistakable. I knew my girl. She and I had been together for almost
seventeen years. I knew she was tired, and sick, and - worst of all for me
- that there was no hope of her ever being better again.
Should I have
waited for pain? I don't think so. I am having enough for both of us. And
that's okay. I can take it. My girl is at peace, and eventually I will be
Carol and Merlin
I knew within
three weeks that the time was coming, and in the first few days of
September knew he wouldn't make it to the end of the month - why?
dropping rapidly (it was dropping more slowly prior to July);
getting harder and harder to get him to eat;
piddling in random places started in July/August - we had put a litter
box upstairs in the loo for him late July, he couldn't hold it very
long although he did know he had to go;
he was getting wobbly, shaky jumping up and down off things, shaky
when he stood up after a lie down, we tried Tumil K (potassium
supplement) and Winstrol (anabolic steroid) they seemed to work for a
week then no;
give him sub-Q's - physically harder to make a tent - he was SO thin;
eating the food he really liked (for the last month and a bit) in the
last week, then stopped coming to bed with us - he stayed in the
living room for the last 4 days, before then he ALWAYS slept with us,
on our pillow.
together, it was also just a feeling, you know what I mean. He was
declining and I knew it and I feel I was enough in tune with him and him
with me that I knew when he had had enough.
Kim and Shasta
had progressed into non-regenerative anemia. The last few weeks her
ability to jump was gone and her ability to even walk up or down steps
diminished rapidly until she could barely even walk - period - or stand up
to eat any food from her dish. She had been incontinent for several weeks
as well. The last week or two, especially, she had trouble with her bowel
motions and had to lie on her side to have them.
Day weekend she took her last short "walk" outside where she rested in the
sunshine. That had given me some small hope because she was on Epogen for
3 weeks and I was waiting for her Winstrol (anabolic steroid) to arrive
the following week in hopes that both these would lead to a turnaround.
The next day,
Sunday, all hope was gone. She was totally immobile, had to be force-fed,
and could barely breath. My vet reported her red blood cell results from
the blood test the day before and it showed the Epogen was still not
working. I felt as though Monday, Labor Day, would have been her time but
the vet's office was closed. My vet did call me again that day though and
I told him that I felt it was time for her and arranged to have her
brought in the next day.
Monday night I
placed her in my bed next to me on blankets and an incontinence pad. I
petted her and talked to her all night. She would, on a few occasions,
open her sad, tired eyes as if to say "it's time to let me go, Mom." She
didn't move otherwise, she was so weak, with continued laboured breathing.
It was clearly time as she had lost her fight to live.
lifeless and limp as I held her in the vet's office on Tuesday waiting to
see him. She opened her eyes only a couple of times, but was so very
silent. The vet said her heart was so weak that she went quickly. We know
we did the right thing and it was not a day too soon.
arrived the day after. We have her ashes with us and her memory will live
in our hearts forever.
Cathy and Bill
shorthair tortie female, Bill, has been gone since 21 March 1998. I
hesitated telling her story on the CRF List for a few reasons:
Now, as I said,
Bill was never diagnosed with CRF. She had not seen a vet for 17 years
(since she was spayed and vaccinated as a kitten). She was very healthy
(or so I believed). When Gilda was diagnosed in August 1999 (and I
subsequently found the CRF List), it was like having a pail of cold water
thrown in my face, with my heart pounding I realized this must have been
what killed Bill. She had all the classic symptoms... weight loss,
excessive urination (!), excessive drinking, her fur looked terrible. I,
like so many others, attributed it to her age.
As for the end,
it started on a Thursday. I came home from work and she just was not
herself. Hardly ate and was not as interactive as usual. Still drinking (a
lot) and urinating.
Friday when I
came home from work she did not eat at all but had set up sentry time at
the water bowl. Just stayed right there. I thought maybe she had a furball
and upset stomach (this had happened before). I gave her some furball
remedy (something like Laxatone I think). Intermittently she would let out
a pitiful cry (reinforcing my belief that she needed to throw up that
furball). As the evening went on she stopped actually drinking but started
lapping at air above the water bowl but not drinking. She did settle down
in her usual spot before I went to bed. I do not know if she was still
morning I awoke to find her sprawled out on her side at the front door
(not a spot she would ever be, there is a draft there). She meowed to me
but was clearly not well. She tried to get up and staggered a few steps
and laid right back down. I tried to hand feed her but she wouldn't eat or
I took her to
the vet an hour or so later. By then she was barely responsive, I even
thought she had already passed. She did respond to my voice and turn her
head to me but it was like she was not seeing me. I would say she was near
comatose. It was an effort for her to lift her head. Just that quickly. (I
should note she had had a similar episode in January, not the near
comatose, but the not eating, general malaise, and rebounded on her own).
The putting to
sleep: vet examines quickly while taking history. Says she's gravely ill.
Recommends euthanasia. I already knew on the way there that she wouldn't
be coming home with me again. Vet had a bit of a tough time finding a
foreleg vein, said she was pretty dehydrated. Did find a vein and injected
(I don't know what) while he listened to her heart. Surprisingly, I was
very calm (I knew I needed to be for Bill). Well, whatever he injected
didn't have the necessary effect (Bill was calm throughout). Vet said
sometimes the cat's system has become so used to fighting off toxins
(kidney failure?) that the cat will fight off the (unknown) injected
substance. He then quickly drew up another syringe of I believe the same
substance. He told me he would be injecting it directly into her heart. I
watched (still amazingly calm) as he inserted the syringe in her heart. He
withdrew the plunger and I watched her heart blood come back into the
syringe and the syringe actually pulsated with her heartbeat before he
gave her the injection. That was it. [Note: this is not the standard
method of euthanasia; see
happens during euthanasia.]
I can't finish
now, I'll try and write again in a day or two
Ila and Merlin
With a sad
heart I write that my magical little boy, Merlin, died at 2:25 p.m. on 13
After seeing no
improvement upon returning home from the hospital the previous day, I
found the courage to help him get the peace he deserved. I actually felt a
sense of relief when I called our vet and arranged for her to come to our
home to "put Merlin to sleep."
I have always
dreaded the thought of euthanasia. For those of you who are currently
struggling with this enormously difficult choice, I want to let you know a
little about our experience today.
Merlin ate and
seemed to enjoy small amounts of baby food today, he slowly walked around
the house, settled in a sunny spot on the carpet, circled by our three
When the vet
arrived with a technician (vet nurse), I placed Merlin on a pillow, on his
favorite sunny window sill, gently talking to him about this great journey
he was about to begin. As I was talking to him and caressing him, the vet
put a catheter in his front leg, he hissed a little. Next, she flushed it
with saline. When Merlin and I were ready, the vet injected the
anesthesia. I had my head close to his and my hand was on his heart. I
asked if he was gone, I didn't feel a significant change in the way his
body was moving. He had died in about 15 seconds. He didn't jerk or gasp,
as I had feared. Merlin's transition was peaceful, quiet, as he deserved.
Things felt a
little surreal for me afterwards. Merlin was my soul mate, I always told
him he was the love of my life.
Jo and Yoda
I don't know if
I can get through this but I will try. It has been 15 months since we had
my beloved Yoda put to sleep. It was one of the hardest things I have ever
done in my life, and I still grieve.
CRF at age 15. For three years we managed the disease very well, with
Hills prescription food and sub-Q fluids twice a week. He was healthy,
happy, active, and a very bright eyed boy. The only way you would have any
clue of the diagnosis was a very slow weight loss, about a pound over the
three years. Since he was a chunk anyway, it was not noticeable.
Steve and I
retired and were going to spend the winter in Texas and take Yoda with us.
We took him in for a good checkup before we left, and since his creatinine
was up a little, our vet had us increase the fluids to three times a week.
Everything else looked pretty good.
While in Texas
Yoda developed heart failure and then had a stroke. Actually, that was
when I found a CRF list, looking for info on heart failure. We found a vet
in Texas, kind but not real up on things. He helped us treat as best we
could. We made a horrible three day drive back to KC with a very sick cat.
The next day we went in for an already scheduled visit with our own vet,
and ended up with an emergency thorocentesis (tapping fluid off the chest)
and a trip to the vet hospital. Yoda now had
hyperactive thyroid and
cardiomyopathy with heart failure.
Now Steve and I
had to accept that "good care" might not be enough. We had the "quality of
life" discussion with our wonderful vet. He was more than willing to be
supportive of the new complications, and pointed out to us how good Yoda
still looked and how bright his eyes were. It was decided that we would
manage Yoda with medications, very CAREFUL administration of sub-Q's (50
cc's three times a week), and thorocentesis to remove the excess fluid
from his chest when he had difficulty breathing. Obviously, treating CRF
and heart failure is very difficult. Yoda had four thorocenteses in all,
over a three month period.
Steve and I
then had to really sit down and talk. Because I was on a CRF list and very
active, I knew that we would eventually have to make the decision. We
decided to evaluate based on the following quality of life criteria. Basic
things, eating, drinking, peeing, pooping, able to use the litter box and
get around a little. In Yoda's case, we also had to add being able to
breath comfortably. Then we added "higher" things, talking, purring, and
his wonderful bright eyes (tears flow).
required a considerable amount of care. Often I had to "encourage" him to
eat, usually by hand feeding him. I tried every kind of cat food
imaginable. He had pills several times a day, and balancing the fluids and
heart was an ordeal. He developed constipation, which required more trips
to the vet and meds. I monitored his eating, his breathing, his heart
Yoda loved to
go to our lake place. When we were there he loved to go outside and under
the porch. We were able to take him to the lake several times those last
few months, and he insisted on going outside and lying in the grass in the
sun. I knew it wore him out, he was always worse when we got home, but it
seemed to me that it was a real joy for him.
As to the
decision. He had his fourth tap and did not "bounce back" as well as
before. That is when the constipation got worse. He really started
fighting being fed. He was short of breath again seven days after the tap.
We had a holiday weekend (the 4th July), and decided that if he was not
better we should consider euthanasia The night before I tried to hold him
and talk to him about what we should do. He wouldn't purr, he wouldn't let
me hold him, he went and hid.
The morning we
looked for some sign. He had eaten some dry prescription food, good. He
wouldn't eat the baby food from my finger, bad. He was terribly short of
breath after coming out of the litter box, laying on the floor. Worst of
all, his bright eyes were no longer bright. We had two choices, another
tap (it was not even two weeks since the last one) or euthanasia. We had
no guarantee that he would even live through anaesthesia for the tap, and
we opted to say good-bye and be with him.
Again, it was
the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. The list wisdom is that the
cat will tell you when it is time. With Yoda the signals were there, but
somewhat mixed. Up until the end he had been very brave and courageous.
Watching him make himself walk again after his stroke, leaning against the
wall and furniture, taught me lessons I will carry the rest of my life. He
was so good with all the treatments, so good at the vets. He purred. Until
the fourth tap, then he seemed very angry, and oh so tired.
I don't know if
I will ever be comfortable emotionally with the decision (tears are really
flowing now). I know rationally we did the right thing, that he did not
WANT another tap and that he was fighting to breathe.
This has been
very long. There is no way I can briefly say how we made the decision. I
don't know how you will be able to read all of these and do something with
them. I indicated the main criteria that we used. I do believe that
talking with your vet, laying out some guidelines, and thinking about "it"
ahead of time is a very good idea. Which is why I have spent the time (and
tears) to respond.
Julia and Albion
Albion, only suffered with CRF for six months before I had her put to
sleep. It was a hard six months. She was never a terribly hardy cat, and I
was on a crash course of learning everything I could about how to care for
a CRF cat. While there are some things I would probably have done
differently if I'd known then what I know now, I'm not convinced it would
have made a lot of difference. It would only make ME feel better knowing
I'd done everything possible.
weight fairly rapidly from the beginning. She never completely lost her
appetite, although toward the end she wouldn't eat very much. I chose not
to force feed her because she had always been pathologically afraid of
being restrained (it took two adults just to give her sub-Q fluids, and
she only weighed 4 lbs at the end), and I didn't believe that binding her
to force feed would be much of a quality of life for her. She did love
sitting on my lap (always did, even when healthy), and would eat a little
if I pretended to eat off the spoon and made yummy noises.
Toward the end,
she became profoundly incontinent. She'd just release an entire bladder
full of urine without seeming to realize she did it. An extremely
fastidious cat, it obviously upset her to be lying in her urine without
the strength to get up and move. We layered towels in the couple of places
she still lay on to sleep, and just changed them whenever they were
soiled. The vet verified that she didn't have a urinary tract infection,
and also that her urine was essentially so dilute it was just water - her
kidneys weren't working at all, really. The anaemia was getting seriously
out of control, and her numbers were climbing without coming down.
moment, though, was when my partner and I were giving Albion her fluids. I
always handled the actual injection, and my partner held Albion in place
and petted her and cooed to her. While we were administering the sub-Qs,
my partner suddenly burst into tears. "She's just skin and bones! It feels
like I'm holding onto a skeleton!" She looked at me and said, "Please, I
don't want to starve her to death. It's just too cruel to just starve her
We'd talked a
lot about when would be the right time to make this decision. It's really
rather arbitrary - a CRF cat isn't going to "get better." In the end, CRF
cats die, and the decision to put to sleep is simply a decision about when
that's going to happen, at what point you no longer want to let it get any
further down the road. But there's hardly a single point where you
"should" do it. It depends on what you're willing/able to do, and what
your cat can forgive.
enough to have a friend who is a vet tech (vet nurse), and we had already
talked about her coming to my home to put Albion to sleep when the time
came (Albion also hated leaving the house and going anywhere in the car).
I contacted my friend the next day. We made an appointment to meet at my
house at 4pm that Friday.
thing was the sub-Q fluids on Thursday night. It was very hard to realize
that, after six months, this was the very last time I would be doing this
for her. And yet I wanted to take good care of her up to the end. I didn't
want her to feel any worse than she already did just because I knew it was
going to be over soon. So we gave her the medications and the palliative
care right up to 4 pm.
after, I kept not wanting it to have happened. It wasn't that I thought
I'd made the wrong decision, or that there was anything else we could do.
I just didn't want ANY of it to have happened. I didn't WANT my cat to
suffer for six months, and die in my arms! Knowing that it was the right
thing made it easier, I guess. But it didn't make it any less sad.
Linda and Snowball
the weeks before Snowball's death he was doing fine except for high
phosphorus levels that we could not get down. With stronger and increased
amount of phosphorus binders he became a little wobbly but I thought that
was due to the extra medication. The vet said to try the extra phosphorus
binder for two weeks, and if that didn't work we would go back to the
regular amount and not worry so much about the phosphorus.
listmember suggested that a stone in Snowball's ureter could cause this
situation - high phosphorus with a seemingly normal acting cat. My vet
doubted this, but took an X-ray; there was a stone in Snowball's ureter
and several in his kidney. Removing a stone from the ureter is expensive
and risky microsurgery performed at a vet school. But with the other
stones in his kidneys which could move into his ureter at any time, this
surgery is not recommended.
The vet put
Snowball on IV for a day hoping there was a chance that the stone would
move. It didn't. When we went to the vet the next day to see Snowball, it
was obvious that he was tired and ready to go. Our vet asked if we wanted
another day on IV, but said it was unlikely that the stone would move. We
made that terrible decision to let him go. I couldn't bring myself to stay
with Snowball at the end (I would have relived it over and over). Sandy,
Snowball's favorite vet tech (vet nurse), was holding him and kissing him
as he left.
Our vet himself
had had stones in his ureter, and said this was extremely painful. So even
though Snowball didn't seem to be in pain, he probably was. One day of IV
with the chance of getting rid of that stone was worth it - another day
with little chance of changing the situation was not worth it for
By the way, the
list member was devastated; he thought removal of the stone would be
fairly easy surgery. As he said, "I like being right, but this is
Maureen and Binnie
was definitely in End Stage Renal Disease, his creatinine was in the 9s
(international: in the 800s), I don't recall his urea (BUN), but he had
high phosphorus, calcium, potassium, hypertension and was anaemic.
days before his death you would not really know he was sick, if you didn't
know him. The first signs were a slowing down... where he used to run
upstairs after his sub-Qs, he would walk to the stairs and look up before
climbing them. His breathing became a little laboured, nothing I could
really put my finger on since he purred constantly. He stopped eating and
the morning he became really sick I tried to force feed him and he started
open mouthed breathing. I called the emergency vet and debated bringing
him in (as opposed to bringing him to his regular vet), but then Sunny,
one of my other cats, had the first of a series of seizures, so I grabbed
both of them and off we went.
vet drained Binnie's chest and gave him some Lasix, a diuretic, which
should have made him "pee like a racehorse", but he didn't, not at all. I
took him (and Sunny) to the vet the next day where they drained another
I was told to
stop his fluids and wait for bloodwork which would be ready the next day.
Sunny continued to have seizures a couple times during this period. The
next day, there was no bloodwork, as the lab failed to pick up, so we had
to wait another day, with no instructions on what to do. Binnie would not
eat, and for the first time in his life he tried to hide under the bed
from me. He drank once during this time and was not peeing or eating, his
breathing was normal but he would not move about at all.
morning, I was getting ready for work and Sunny suffered another seizure,
so I stayed home. Binnie died while I was on the phone with my vet getting
the lab results. I had no idea he was going to die on his own like that.
His urea was 64 (US: BUN 179), creatinine was 872 (US: 9.8), phosphorus
5.78 (US: 17.9).
Fully half of
his bloodwork was out of the normal range, high or low, though I don't
know how much the fact that the blood sat out all night had to do with it.
Sunny stopped having seizures the day that Binnie died.
I think the
'toughness' of the kitty has a lot to do how fast they seem to go. I think
that like Thomas, Binnie was a very tough fellow and compensated well for
his illness. There just reaches a point, sort of the straw that breaks the
camel's back, where they cannot compensate anymore, then all hell breaks
Lizz and Fuzz
My Fuzz left me
on February 12, 2000. Fuzz had been diagnosed with CRF, and seemed to be
holding his own for a month or so with sub-Q's and Winstrol. He would eat
only a mouthful or so of food a day, but beside that he was hanging in
there. On a Friday evening we noticed Fuzz sitting in the "meatloaf"
position, he didn't move. I got down on the floor with him that night and
looked into his eyes, I think I knew then that it was time to set Fuzz
free. The next morning we found that he had lost control of his bladder,
and at sometime during the night had passed a dark, thick, tarry bowel
It was clearly
time to say good-bye. I drove to the vet with Fuzz lying in my lap,
blinded by tears. My wonderful vet checked Fuzz, then looked at me and
said, "What do you want to do?" It is an awful, wrenching, gut-twisting
decision to have to make. I couldn't make myself say the words "let him
go". I just couldn't. Finally I said to the vet, "what would YOU do were
this YOUR cat?" His answer came quickly, "I'd let him go." So I nodded my
consent. As the vet and I had talked, one of the vet techs (vet nurses)
had gently bathed Fuzz's furry pants, she said she didn't want him to go
to the Bridge like that. Somehow that small act of kindness just did me
in. All of us held a paw as the vet administered the shot that would end
Fuzz's suffering. The vet had to wipe his eyes several times. And then,
almost instantly, Fuzz got his angel wings. It was a peaceful and
As I sat there
and cuddled his poor, broken little body I felt a sense of peace, a sense
of knowing I had made the right decision. He was sick, he was in pain and
he was tired of the fight... I did the right thing. But it hurt. Oh God,
it hurt. And now, 8 months later, it still does. But I still know I did
the best, kindest and most loving thing by my Angel. My precious Fuzz.
Mike and Ziggy
We lost our cat
Ziggy to CRF. With him, the issue of when it was time to let him go wasn't
that difficult. He went from his usual self overnight to not being able to
hold his head up. He managed a couple of small spurts of energy, but by
the time we arrived at the vet we knew he would not make it. He had
stopped trying to look around and had begun shivering a little, something
he had never done during the year he fought with CRF. The Vet felt he was
already gone when he gave him the injection, but that his body had just
not quit yet.
If I had any
advice for people on when to decide I guess it would have to be to watch
your cat. A majority of the people I have spoken to say that their cats
let them know in some subtle and not so subtle ways. Also to try not to
project their emotions onto their cat when making the decision. Our
wanting to have our beloved pets with us as long as possible is noble, but
even the hundreds or even thousands of dollars we may spend for more time
with them, may be only to make ourselves feel better, and not really in
the interest of our little loved ones. We actually made our good-byes
twice before the end, and in a small way that helped. A friend has had her
cat recently diagnosed, and she already has planned what to do when it is
time, even though it is most likely years before it might happen.
Accepting and addressing the inevitable is a major part of dealing with
the decision. I know I make it sound easy which is not my intent, I am a
37 year old man who spent most of the night crying when Ziggy went, but I
hate to think what it would have been like if I hadn't made peace with his
condition in the first place.
We began going
to a very caring vet the second time Ziggy crashed, who explained that one
of the effects of the disease was the production of chemicals in the body
that keep them from feeling much if any pain in the progression of the
disease. He, along with our first vet, felt that Ziggy was beyond any
medication or treatment. He felt that sub-Q's would possibly extend
Ziggy's time with us, but not benefit his quality of life. We were told to
take him home and enjoy each other while we could. He was very frail and
down to about 6 pounds, from over 19. He suggested we may wish to try
pedialyte (a vitamin supplement) to help keep him hydrated and help him
keep up his energy. A short while later I called the vet to tell him I
thought Ziggy had gained a little weight. I was told not to get our hopes
up, but that he was surprised to hear Ziggy was still with us. He said if
Ziggy still was around in a month to call and make an appointment. It
actually took a few months to call back because Ziggy was eating like a
horse, playing with his toys and gaining weight. When we finally did get
him in, it was still bad news. His kidneys were still over 90% failed and
his urea and creatinine were off the scales.
But he was back
over 12 pounds and was as close to his old self as he was going to get.
The vet still felt that he was beyond medication, but because he was
eating and drinking about 2.5 large bottles of pedialyte every two days,
he did prescribe some medication to try to stimulate red blood cells. The
only thing we can attribute his condition to was the pedialyte. Right up
to the week before he passed it was all he would drink. I think that was
one of his ways of telling us it was time. We thought of taking him in
then, but he was still eating and wasn't displaying any other symptoms of
discomfort or pain. Maybe if we had, he would have had another couple of
weeks if he had gotten an IV. But I think in the end that really would
just have been selfish on our part. He had lived a year longer than anyone
gave him a chance for and had one of the best summer vacations ever, even
before he got sick.
Karen and Merlin
Friday, January 28, 2000 at 9:25 a.m., my beloved Merlin transitioned from
this world to the next. In a way, I was lucky, the decision to have him
"put to sleep" was essentially cut and dry.
started late on Wednesday, January 26 – he had been using his litter box
which was situated in the small room off my bedroom. Afterwards, he came
to bed and I noticed he had problems jumping on the bed – his hind legs
were weak. Of course I was worried, his latest blood work had been
horrible - urea 51.4 (US: BUN 144), creatinine 739 (US: 8.3), and
phosphorus, a whopping 4.65 (US: 14.4), but I would watch him and if need
be, take him in for IV fluids by the weekend. I had had a rotten week to
start with: I had started a new job and was sick to boot, Merlin and his
companion, Nikki, was also sick – she hadn’t eaten without vomiting in
almost a week. All her tests were coming back negative, so my guess was it
was an emotional reaction on her part. What did she know that I didn’t?
January 27, 2000, the real problem started. We all got up at the usual
time. Merlin had 200ml of fluids, plus had eaten a little bit on his own.
I felt well enough to go to work and was just finishing my morning shower
when Merlin came running into the bathroom and jumped into the tub (yes, I
was still there drying off) to get his water. After he finished drinking,
he jumped out of the tub and banged a leg on the edge, or so I thought. I
grabbed my towel and ran down the hall after him, catching up with him in
the bedroom where he was having a seizure (according to my records, it was
I gently picked
him up and placed him on the bed, holding him the entire time. The episode
lasted all of about 20 seconds and then he jumped off the bed and ran to
I was a wreck!
I didn’t know what to do first – I finally calmed down enough to call the
vet, who said the best they could do for him was put him on IV fluids.
Yet, somehow I knew, it wouldn’t help. But, on the off chance that a
miracle would occur, I agreed to bring him in around noon. I also
re-subscribed to the CRF list that had been my lifeline during his months
of illness and requested prayers and then I opened the closet door and sat
down beside my boy to cry and tell him how much I loved him.
I had told the
vet I would bring him in at noon because I didn’t want to stress Merlin,
but the truth is, I just knew this was the beginning of the end and I
wanted a chance to say good-bye. Nikki came and lay down in front of the
open closet door and I remember thinking it was good we were all together.
So, I cried and cried and expressed my love and joy to him. Thanking him
for gracing my life. Of course, during one particularly poignant moment I
looked at him and, I don’t know, maybe I was expecting him to look at me
adoringly, but he was too busy grooming himself!! Nikki had also decided
that this would be a good time to start eating and keeping it down (I had
kept saying she would make mommy so happy if she did). So, there I am
crying for one baby and smiling for the other.
At noon, I
gently placed Merlin in his carrier and off we went. He was subdued this
time – maybe he knew. I was crying and started crying even harder when I
handed him over to the vets.
The rest of the
afternoon was spent on the couch, curled up in a corner, crying and
remembering and bracing myself for what was to come. At 4:30 p.m. I called
the vets and one of the technicians (vet nurses), said he was good and was
giving her "that look". My heart took flight – maybe, just maybe, he would
be okay. But it was a long, sleepless night without my baby boy.
morning I called the vets around 7 a.m. – the receptionist told me the
doctors hadn’t done their rounds yet – I told her I was just looking for
breathing at this point. And, yes, he was still with us.
At 8:00 a.m.,
Merlin’s regular vet called and the news was not good. Merlin’s numbers
were off the wall: urea 79.3 (US: BUN 222), creatinine 739 (US: 8.3,
unchanged), and phosphorus was now 5.5 (US: 17.1)!! All the extra
phosphorus binders I gave him during the week did nothing to help it. No
wonder his legs were wobbly! I asked the vet exactly how long this latest
round of fluids would help him. He said a week, maybe two weeks, or a
month. It was hard to tell because Merlin was such a fighter. Again, that
horrible feeling came over me and I had to ask myself if I could make the
decision to end his life and let him go.
I went to
hospital at 8:30 a.m. and they brought him in. I guess because I had been
thinking the worst, I was almost surprised to see him. They brought him
(and the drip machine) into the examining room (normally they let me out
back, but not today because there was a dog with a severe spinal injury
The first thing
I noticed was his constant growling. Now, Merlin always was a talker, but
this wasn’t like him – something was definitely wrong. Then his right
front paw was tucked under (background: when he was 8 months old, Merlin
got hit by a car on the left side of the head, the tracking on his right
front paw was always off and it had always been an indication to me when
something was up with him). They weren't sure what the problem with his
paw was, but I knew. In the meantime, they asked if I would feed him –
since he wouldn’t eat on his own; he had, however, used the litter boxes
which made me feel a little bit better. So, I mixed a little of the Hills
A/D food with water and syringe fed him. He took about 18cc’s and decided
enough was enough and wanted down on the floor to check things out.
he had another seizure – I opened the door that led out back and yelled
for help. They came running – Merlin was on the floor and I just kept
holding him, telling him I was there. Again, it stopped within 20 seconds
and he just got up and started moving around – but, I could tell there was
serious brain damage and I knew this was it. I made my mind up right then
and there – there was no way I was letting him suffer. The vet told me he
would get into scrubs and be right with me. So, Merlin and I were left
I sat on the
chair holding him, cuddling him like a baby, rubbing his nose and just
telling him I would take care of everything.
When the vet
came back, he told me about his numbers, but that Merlin’s urea had gone
down to 53.6 (US: BUN 150) overnight. I asked him if Merlin would come
back from this and after a short pause, he softly said "no". At that
moment, I made the best and worst decision of my whole life. I said,
"let’s end it". Now? Yes.
So, I held my
boy while I signed all the papers, making sure he had a private cremation.
The vet had the injection and had fetched a blue towel so Merlin could be
comfortable. I joked that blue had always been his colour. And for the
first time that day, he turned and looked me straight in the eye. Fearless
The line to the
IV drip machine was removed and the vet injected the euthanasia solution.
Within seconds, Merlin sank down as the vet and I both reached to help him
to the table and maybe 5 seconds after that, Merlin was gone (it was 9:25
a.m. EST). My arms were always around him. There was a sense of relief
pass through me and I believe that was Merlin’s soul. It was over. I had
prepared myself for the bodily functions I knew would come: the
convulsing, urinating, defecating – but they never did. He just went to
The vet left me
alone with him and I just cried. I buried my face into his fur and cried.
I didn’t care who heard me. I didn’t want him to suffer, but my baby boy
was gone. My beastie boy who had been my friend for the past 15 years was
gone. I hated leaving his body there. I just went home and felt so empty.
Voula and Sachie
people told me that I would know when the time had come. They could not
tell me exactly how, that it may be different for each cat and each
person. I worried a bit because this did not seem to be very specific. But
now I know what they meant. You know. And if you have doubts, don't make
the decision to have your cat put to sleep. Don't listen to others, follow
before Sachie passed she suffered from an internal bleed. Her colour in
her mouth was pale, and she felt very cold to touch, especially on her
back. She was breathing fast (between 40 and 60 breaths a minute) and her
nostrils were flaring with each breath. Her heart rate was faster than
what was normal for Sachie. I noticed her heart rate was fast about four
days before the rest of the symptoms happened. I asked the vet and he said
not to worry. Well I did! I knew my cat! Many times I learnt to TRUST MY
INSTINCTS throughout the course of Sachie's illness. Sachie was diagnosed
with lymphosarcoma of the kidneys.
The vet would
not help us. He said she was an old and very sick cat. Of course, I went
to another vet (our old vet) and asked him for some carafate which we gave
us. The previous vet would not give me anything for Sachie. I think this
was cruel!!! With each day on the carafate (which is given for stomach
ulcers) and the slippery elm and antibiotics (for the tongue ulcers)
Sachie's breathing normalised. We were given another month together
because of the second vet and my insistence.
My best friend
thought at the time of the bleed that the end had come. I feared so, but
my heart (plus a dream I had in which I was told that the time had not
come), plus looking into Sachie's eyes which were still full of life
(despite the severity of the situation) told me the time had not come.
Sachie had not been eating much the previous few days. But with the
carafate and other treatment her appetite improved and she began eating by
the second day of the treatment.
In the next few
weeks, she ate, used her bowels and bladder normally. She was still able
to leap onto the kitchen cupboards despite severe anaemia. Her colour
improved a bit (on her gums and mouth).
In the week
before she died, (she had been losing weight despite eating), she started
to slow down, to eat less. But she still enjoyed rolling on her back in
the sunshine on the balcony. She was nauseous, and she started to vomit in
the last week, every day or so. She also started to fight (even more than
usual) her pills and sub-Q fluids, so I cut down and only gave her those
things which would have prevented suffering, rather than trying to make
Up till the day
before she died, she was still leaping on the kitchen cupboards and
rolling on her back in the sun. In fact on that day, after I gave her the
sub-Q fluids she went out on the balcony and for her last visit to the
balcony it looked like Sachie used to look before she got sick.
30th September 2000, I awoke to find she would not eat. Her pupils were
dilated and her eyes looked glazed. Her swallowing (from possible throat
ulcers) was causing her trouble, and now I wonder if she was having
seizures. Her head would jerk sideways. Oh this is so hard to write!
Then later in
the afternoon she walked out to the lounge room and could barely walk. I
picked her up. She lost control of her bladder. I knew the time had come.
I carried her
to her litter tray and she was too weak to cover her urine. I put my hand
in the tray and covered it for her. She seemed pleased by this as Sachie
was always meticulous about covering her urine. She could not walk. Her
back legs crossed each other. I knew the time had come.
I rang the vet
and held Sachie in my arms. She lay there limply. Sachie never liked to be
held too much. I knew. I asked her earlier in the day to tell me when it
was time. She winked at me with one eye. I asked her later when I was
holding her in my arms if she was ready to go. She winked at me with one
The vet came. I
held her up and looked into her eyes. It was time.
I miss her so
much. I miss her more than life itself. God Bless You Sachie for the love
you gave me. I love you my precious one. My irreplaceable Sachie.
Nick and Blob
Yesterday at 12.15pm, Blob, my 12 year old tortoiseshell friend, ended her
battle with CRF. She had CRF when she was 4 and at the time the vet, going
by the blood test results, gave her until the end of the week. That was 8
years ago. Somehow she recovered but I have always thought she was living
on borrowed time. She started losing weight about 6 months ago but as she
was overweight anyway I was rather pleased. About a month ago she suddenly
stopped jumping up onto things and seemed to be getting older. She was
still her normal self and as she had never exerted herself unduly, I did
not worry too much. However, she started to eat less until two weeks ago
when she stopped eating all together. She was still perfectly normal in
every other respect and was drinking a lot but then she always had. She
had always had horrible teeth/breath but they had never caused any
problems for her - she had no trouble eating whole mice which she did
I took her to the vets
as by this time I was suspecting kidney failure. The blood test results
were bad - urea at 45 (US: BUN of 126) and creatinine at 616 (US: 6.96).
They put her onto IV fluids for 24 hours after which she was much brighter
and even ate a few mouthfuls of food. That was on Monday of last week. She
was doing well until Friday morning when she stopped eating again. She
retired to the blanket box under my bed and there she stayed. I carried
her downstairs a couple of times but she was getting weaker and weaker and
starting to stagger. On Sunday night she started to vomit whenever she
moved and it was clear that it hurt when she was moved - she made little
whimpering noises, poor thing. She had also stopped drinking on the
Saturday. With all these things added together, by Sunday night I knew she
had had enough. I phoned the vet Monday (yesterday) morning and arranged a
home visit. I could not face taking her to the surgery and being driven 5
miles in my van would have been torture for her. I also felt that she
should pass in her own home in familiar surroundings. I had to wait 3
hours for the vet as he had to finish surgery. This gave me time to say
farewell and spend our last hours together. She was still curled up in the
blanket box but did raise her head a few times and look at me with painful
eyes. I was in no doubt that i was doing the right thing and that the time
was right before most of the horrible symptoms of end stage happened.
When the vet came, I carried Blob downstairs on the blanket where she was
still lying. She did not attempt to get up but moaned a little as I moved
her. The vet very gently gave her the injection and she slipped peacefully
away while I was stroking her. She had gone before the vet had finished
the injection - some 3 or 4 seconds and there she lay on the blanket - so
quiet, so peaceful, so relaxed in her favourite sleeping position. I broke
down as she passed away and wept for the first time I can remember since I
was a child. The vet said it was harder for me than it was for her and I
suspect he was right.
I wrapped her in a nice fluffy towel and buried her yesterday evening in
her favourite spot in the garden. I am crying again as I write this: I
miss her so much. I still have her daughter who is such an affectionate
little soul so it's just her and me now.
The decision to end her
pain was not difficult: I had no doubt it was what I had to do for her.
Actually doing it was incredibly hard but I am glad I did for both our
"The world keeps turning and the grass still grows but now, there is one
less loving little soul to watch over it. Now there is an empty space, an
empty sound, an empty chair, but not in my heart where she will always
Pat and Hecate
To my mind,
lists of 'really bad' signs are helpful in reminding us what to be
especially alert for. On the other hand, I think they're often of limited
use in helping us decide what to do in a particular situation. As many
people have pointed out (and as I saw myself with my brave and incredibly
strong-willed little Hecate kitty), cats sometimes bounce back amazingly
from otherwise-final-looking crashes.
But neither am I wild about just telling people they'll "know what their
cats want, when the time comes". I know it's meant well, but this is too
much like what doctors used to tell new mothers: "oh, you're his mother,
you'll just naturally know why he's crying and what to do about it."
Yeah. Well. Sometimes. And sometimes not. Taking care of your beloved
kitty in the last stages of CRF is stressful enough without laying that
kind of extra anxiety and guilt on people. Because, hey, if the questioner
DID 'just know', they would probably not be ASKING, right?
To me (for whatever that's worth), it comes down to whether the cat is
intractably (= nothing in your power can be expected to alleviate it)
unhappy in his/her mind and spirit. For instance, several times when
Hecate crashed she was physically in really bad shape, but seemed fairly
well 'out of it' in a foggy resigned sort of way. Her face was peaceful
and there did not seem to be anything at all she particularly desperately
wanted. So we tried more aggressive treatment, and she improved, and I do
not for a moment regret it and am positive she didn't either.
Towards the end of the final crash, when she hadn't eaten for days, she
was likewise not in great shape physically - in particular, heart problems
prevented her from moving very fast or lying in her favourite positions, I
don't think she slept much, and she acted sort of fragile and headachey.
But again, she seemed to accept that that was just the way things were
now. She would sit and look around the room in an approving sort of manner
that suggested she was in no hurry at all to leave; she apparently thought
it was pretty adequately satisfying to just be *able* to sit there and
look around the room. I think she was pretty seriously foggy upstairs, you
know?, but content.
Until the last day. I don't know whether things got that much physically
worse for her, or whether she started to get too confused to make sense of
it all, or whether she had just had enough. She just could not get
comfortable anymore. She would toss and turn restlessly, then get up and
laboriously walk a few yards away and lie back down, but she couldn't get
comfortable there either, so she'd totter off to try somewhere else, and
so forth. She no longer seemed 'okay' with the way she felt. She flat-out
couldn't do it anymore. I wouldn't say there was any desperation yet in
her behaviour but you could see it coming.
And I knew there was nothing more I could do for her. It had been 4+ years
since her diagnosis; her PKD kidneys were the size of oranges and losing
their ability to even excrete water; her heart could no longer handle even
just normal activities let alone her illness or treatment; and she hadn't
eaten for ten days. As soon as I saw that she was really wanting out in
that important sort of way, we went to the vet's, and she was soon at
peace. (Actually it wasn't quite that simple and didn't work out as easily
at the end as that last sentence there might imply, but that's another
I don't think we can always be confident of knowing a cat's wishes in
general... but I think we often CAN tell whether the cat is, figuratively
speaking, scrabbling desperately at the corner of that big mysterious door
because she just can't stand to stay here any longer and needs to go out.
And I think that likewise we often CAN make a levelheaded assessment of
whether further treatment stands a good chance of returning the cat to a
happy-enough frame of mind... or not.
Of course, having said that, I will add that I do not think that this
question really matters that much in the particular way we often like to
pretend it matters. I mean, I don't think it matters so much to our cats.
In the end, we do what we do. It is the *actions*, not the reasons, that
are directly experienced by our cats. And I truly think our cats usually
*know* we act with the best of intentions. On the other hand, the
*reasons* for our decisions (especially the elaborate verbal or emotional
justifications thereof) matter mainly just to US. Being a rather insecure
and over-analytical species, on the whole <g>, we can make ourselves
tremendously miserable unless we can point at some greater justification
for our decisions.
I don't think it's a bad thing to nominate for that purpose a list of
signs, or a conviction of total accuracy in interpreting our cat's
thoughts, or my own rationale as laid out above... but I'm not at all sure
those aren't red herrings. Our actions don't always come from the reasons
that we think they do. I think often our stated reasons just boil down to
what each of us needs to get us through it. I think that's okay. And at
least for me, I think that's a helpful thing to remember.
Lorena, Christopher and Sasha
am writing this three days after losing my 2.5 years old Siamese Sasha to
CRF. This site has helped me a lot during Sasha’s illness, and the "Pet
Loss" section was crucial to my decision of putting my baby to sleep. I
hope that by writing this story down, I’ll help people going through the
same difficult times I went through... and help myself dealing with
Sasha’s loss, which has been so recent.
My husband Chris
got Sasha from an animal shelter. He’d been rescued from a horrible hoarder
who had over 120 cats (all Siamese) in a small house! Sasha was probably
inbred, and I think this is one of the reasons his health was fragile. Soon
after Chris took Sasha home, he became really sick, and was diagnosed with
Panleukopenia (feline distemper), a very deadly disease. Sasha stayed at
intensive care for a week, fought bravely against the disease and miraculously
won the battle. He’s been healthy ever since, though he sneezed all the time
and had bad teeth. Nothing serious tho (or so we thought).
Sasha was the most
loving cat I have EVER seen in my life. I’ve always been more of a dog person
and had that idea that cats were not loving animals, but everything changed
when I got married and my husband brought his two cats (Sasha and Fibonacci, a
4 year old half Maine Coon) to Brazil with him (he’s American and I’m
Brazilian). Sasha simply adored him. He would give him kisses (real ones!) all
the time, talk to him, meow at the door everytime Chris was out... Sasha was
completely devoted to my husband and vice-versa. I must admit I was jealous of
the cat sometimes! He was the king of the house!
A few months after
coming to Brazil, my husband got me a little Persian kitten, Pandora.
Fibonacci hated her at the beginning (though they’re good friends now): he
hissed at her and hid from her. Sasha, though, adopted her from the moment she
got home! He would play with her, take care of her and, most important, keep
Fibbers away from her as much as he could. It was so funny seeing him standing
between Pandora and Fib everytime Fib tried to hit her! He would just stand
there on that very royal attitude of his, as if he asked Fib "Do you feel
lucky, punk?"... it was amazing. Pandora loved Sasha to death!
In the five months
Sasha lived with me here in Brazil, I’ve noticed that sometimes he would act
weird... he would just stay on the "meatloaf" position, very very weak, and
refuse to eat. We thought it was due to his bad teeth (he had a powerful bad
breath as well) and changed his diet from dry to wet, and he seemed better. He
started eating again and behaving as he always did. Now that I know more about
CRF I am sure that those were the first signs of his disease, but at the time
I thought he was only having trouble eating dry food because of his teeth.
Sometimes I wonder if he would still be with us if I knew more about CRF at
Everything was okay
for a month or so. Sasha was eating well and very active. Two weeks ago he
stopped eating and spent two days being very morose, laying down all the time
and not playing with the other cats. We thought it was nothing serious, a cold
maybe... one day I got back from work and Chris told me that Sasha wasn’t
eating. He was laying down in his favourite place at the bed and would not
stand up. When we held him in our arms, we found out a huge lump, about the
size of an orange or a tennis ball, in his abdomen. When he walked, he chose
his steps very carefully, as if he were in pain, though he didn’t complain
when we massaged the lump. We got very scared, of course, and called the
emergency vet, who took him to the vet hospital thinking that maybe he got a
hairball obstruction. The next day he would take x-rays of Sasha’s abdomen to
check what was really wrong with our kitty.
The lump in his
abdomen wasn’t a hairball as we’ve expected, but his bladder, completely
blocked and full of urine. The poor kitty must have been in pain for days and
we never noticed anything wrong, because since we have multiple cats it is
very hard to check on who’s peeing normally and who’s not. He had some bladder
stones too. The vet tried to unobstruct his bladder with a catheter more than
five times, but on the next day it would be completely blocked again. Blood
tests were done and a diagnosis was made: Sasha had CRF, in a very advanced
stage. 70 to 85% of his kidneys were already gone. We’ve never heard of this
disease before and got very scared. Sasha was at the vet hospital for one week
and got back home. We did everything we could for him the following week:
administered all the medication the vet had prescribed and fed him with a
syringe three times a day (he would not eat by himself). Besides that, we
would orally give him a salinated sugar solution to keep him hydrated. He
would just stay in the meatloaf position all day, sitting on his own urine
because he was completely incontinent; he was also peeing almost pure blood.
Sometimes he would walk to the litterbox with extreme difficulty and sit there
for a couple minutes trying to evacuate or urinate, to no avail. On his final
days, we’d noticed that he had started to lick walls and eat the litter.
He was back home
for five days. It was obvious that he was suffering a lot and that he wasn’t
responding to the treatment... Sasha wasn’t living, he was vegetating. He
would not look at us when we called his name. On Wednesday my husband and I
started talking about putting him to sleep, but it was SO hard.... one thing
is finding your pet dead one morning: you cry, you grieve, but you accept
nature’s course and try to move on with your life. Another thing is having to
play God and decide to put your pet down. A lot of questions came to us: what
if he still had a chance? What if he recovers in the next couple of days?
Shouldn’t we give him one last chance? After lots of tears, we’ve talked to
our vet, who agreed that Sasha was dying slowly and that we should put our
baby to sleep. He was literally wasting away. He’s always been a slim cat, but
in a week he was skin and bones. Due to the CRF, he was extremely anemic (his
gums were completely white) and had a bad respiratory infection. We scheduled
an appointment for the next day, September 26th, 2003. We would
take Sasha to the vet and put him down.
Sasha was smothered
with love on his last night. My husband spent all night and most of the
morning with him in his arms, talking to him and saying goodbye. Sasha looked
happy and his eyes looked bright for the first time since he got back from the
vet. On Friday morning I had to go to the doctor and when I got back home I
found Christopher and Sasha cuddling together on the bed. Chris was sound
asleep from his vigil the night before, but Sasha was awake: he touched his
head against daddy’s and stared at his face all the time.
The vet came to
pick Sasha up after lunch, and we went with him. He was in my husband’s arms
all the way, and looked happy for the first time since he got sick. His blue
eyes were less sullen.
process wasn’t as gentle as we thought it would be, though: Sasha was so
dehydrated that the vet spent HALF AN HOUR trying to find a good vein in his
forearm. He meowed a couple of times, complaining, and the vet gave him a
intra-muscular sedative. That was the last time I saw Sasha conscious. His
body went limp and he peed some blood (with a horrible squirting sound) while
two vets struggled to find a vein in which to give him the euthanasia
solution. After half an hour of that, they tried to hear his heartbeats and
there was none: Sasha was so weak that the sedative they gave him was enough
to kill him. They kindly left us alone with him. It was so strange holding his
limp body, and looking to his blue eyes... his eyes amazed me the most, how
hollow they were: Sasha was definitely not there anymore. We wrapped him in a
sheet and he was buried right away, at the clinic’s grounds, in a nice spot
under a tree, overlooking a hill and we watched the burial.
During the whole
thing I was sobbing like crazy, but the moment I got out of the clinic and
started walking home with my husband I felt strangely... relieved. I just knew
that we had made the right decision, and that he wasn’t suffering anymore. It
was only when we got home and had to face his empty box that the impact of all
that had happened really struck me. I still cry when I think of my little
Siamese, but I’ve found out that the final hours are more difficult than the
afterwards. Yes, there’s an emptiness in our lives that won’t ever be
fulfilled; yes, we miss our Sasha like crazy; and yes, we’re grieving, but the
decision-making and the final hours with him were the toughest moments. I
thought I would crumble to the floor when the vet declared him dead, but I
didn’t; I thought I would never be happy again, but I am slowly accepting his
demise. I am positive that we’ll meet our little Sashatizer again someday and
that conviction helps me a lot... my husband is having a hard time accepting
his death, but I was expecting that, since he raised Sasha from a kitten.
Pandora seems to miss him too - when we got back from the vet she was looking
for Sasha. The vet does not know if his panleukopenia had anything to do with
his CRF. We don’t know if we could have done better to save him. All we know
is that Sasha was the joy of our home and our lives are emptier since he
left... but we’ll never forget our little blue-eyed boy or the sound of his
happy meows around the house.
Mommy and Daddy
love you, Sasha, and miss you terribly. Please take care of yourself wherever
you are and wait for us. We’ll never forget you.
Shae and Porch
When the small
white and gray cat appeared on my front doorstep, pacing nervously, I decided
to feed him. He was only about a year old and was noticeably thin and hungry.
He ran when I placed the dish on the concrete, but only a few yards away. Once
I closed the door behind me, he descended upon the dish and devoured the food
I had no intention
of keeping the little fellow. I had two cats inside already, and lived alone
in a small apartment with strict pet policies. Besides, I couldn't really
afford to care for another cat. I'd keep an eye on him, and if he hung around,
I'd try to find him a home.
He did hang around.
Although I've always made friends with cats quickly, efforts to pet him proved
futile. I put out food for him, and he ate as soon as I disappeared from view.
Thus began our relationship.
It was early
February, so I padded an old cardboard box with towels and placed it under the
awning. After a few days, he accepted it as his bed. Clearly he was having
trouble making it on his own, and needed a home, despite his initial
reluctance to be my friend.
I decided he needed
a name. After considering the names of Greek gods, great figures in
literature, and every baby name on a website for expectant mothers, I settled
on "Porch," after his favorite spot. Unconventional, but cute, and quite
Porch looked like a
little hobo. He was mostly white with gray patches that fell haphazardly
across his back and head, and he had almond shaped, gentle looking eyes.
Fighting with other tomcats and wrestling his food from raccoons had left him
scratched up and scruffy. He was thin, his paws were large and he was always
I decided to get
Porch neutered, to curb his contribution to the neighborhood's stray cat
population while making him more attractive for adoption. He didn't appreciate
being stuffed into the pet carrier, but it didn't harm our relationship
permanently, and the criss-crossed scratches on my arms eventually healed. I
took him to FACE, a low cost spay and neuter clinic in downtown Indianapolis.
The clinic gave him a preliminary check-up to make sure he was ok for surgery,
and though he was approved, it was noted on his record that he had "swollen
paws." I tried to look at them, but Porch refused to allow a satisfactory
instructions required me to keep Porch indoors for a couple of weeks after
surgery. He submitted for a time, but soon became absolutely terrified of his
surroundings and insisted upon being released, returning immediately to his
Despite our initial
difficulties, Porch gradually decided that I was his best friend. He spent
literally 24 hours a day on the patio, leaving only for brief moments. He
allowed me to pet him while dispensing food, and he stayed nearby when I sat
outside to enjoy the nice weather of the approaching springtime.
It was around this
time that I tried to give Porch away, but he wouldn't have it.
It seemed he had
become tame enough, so I placed a classified ad in FAR, sent out email, and
put up a flyer at work. Several people expressed an interest in him, but when
they came to visit, he conveniently disappeared. My backup plan was to find
him an outdoor farm home, but nothing was available. Reluctantly, I began to
accept that Porch was mine, at least for a while.
Porch was happy
with this arrangement, as he had already adopted me. He began to allow me to
pet him with no strings attached, and we enjoyed many evenings relaxing
together on the lawn. However, he strongly defended his freedom, resisted
being picked up, and remained unreasonably afraid of everyone else but me.
As the summer
months gave way to cooler weather, I replaced the cardboard box with a sturdy,
weatherproof home that I had carefully constructed, insulated, and filled with
soft wool bedding. I even hung a curtain over the door to curtail the breeze.
A few friends rolled their eyes at the extravagance, but the cardboard box was
drooping from moisture, and he needed a better shelter.
Soon I learned
Porch's history. "That little two-timer!" I heard a kind-looking lady exclaim
from the sidewalk one afternoon, spotting Porch and me lazing on a blanket
during her daily stroll. She explained that she had fed Porch and his brother
for a time, when her neighbors had first moved away, leaving the two kittens
alone on the doorstep. We conversed a while. Neither of us could understand
how the couple could simply abandon two kittens in the middle of winter. She
was glad that Porch was being cared for. She did not know what had become of
the other kitten.
Winter soon came,
and Porch got thinner. His paws were now visibly swollen and his nose looked
inflamed too. I gave him table scraps in addition to his regular food and
invited him inside, but he preferred his outdoor home.
One afternoon I
looked outside and saw that Porch was leaving a trail of pink paw prints
behind him in the snow. His paws were beginning to bleed. I assumed they were
just chapped, but to be safe, I once again wrestled him into the pet carrier
for a drive to the vet, which upset him greatly.
The vet was
mystified. Porch had some kind of "pododermatitis", apparently a catch-all
term for all kinds of paw soreness. A bulbous, bloody mass had developed on
one paw, which was removed with a local anesthetic. Porch tested negative for
feline leukemia, distemper, and several other common diseases, so we were sent
on our way with no further instructions.
Porch survived the
winter without further incident, but he was becoming thinner and thinner each
day, and he spent a lot of time in his little bed.
In the spring, my
apartment lease ended, and I had plans to move in with my boyfriend – who
happened to live about a block away, across a busy street. Porch made himself
scarce while the packing was going on, and absolutely refused to be picked up
and transported to the new home. When the moving was complete, I placed his
fancy bed and a dish of food on the new patio, hoping he'd find me. He didn't,
so I stopped by the old apartment each evening after work for several days,
hoping to spot him. Finally, I caught up with him. He meowed desperately and
seemed afraid that he'd been abandoned a second time. I pet him and talked to
him, but wasn't able to pick him up. So I left my car, took off walking, and
convinced him to follow me. "Come on, Porch," I said repeatedly, "We don't
live there any more. Come home with me." And oddly enough, he came. He
followed me down the sidewalk, up the road, and after a little hesitation,
across the busy street, into a new apartment complex and finally into a new
back yard with a fenced-in porch. There he found a dish of food and his bed,
and he moved right in without further ado. When I purchased a new patio lounge
chair, he decided it was a present for him, and sat at the foot of it until
there was a large cat-shaped droop in the plastic mesh.
winter was tough. It was bitterly cold, so I ran an extension cord through my
kitchen window and placed a heating pad in his bed. Porch was now nothing
short of emaciated, and didn't appear to be eating much of his food. I bought
a vitamin supplement gel at the pet store, mixed it with raw eggs and milk,
and stood shivering beside Porch each morning to ensure that he drank it. I
traded his dry food for canned, but he turned his nose up at both. He also
seemed exhausted, and stayed in his little bed constantly.
In March there was
a second incident with bleeding paws, and another maneuvering into the pet
carrier. Poor Porch was terrified by car rides and being handled by strangers,
and each time he needed care, I felt guilty for putting him through the
stress. This time I took him to a different vet at my usual clinic, who ran
another battery of tests. Porch was screened for worms, all the old diseases
and a host of new and rare ones. He tested negative for everything. It was
determined that he was dehydrated and had a heart murmur, but the cause of his
various ailments remained a mystery.
As a last-ditch
effort, bloodwork was sent to a lab to check the functioning of Porch's
internal organs. This time something turned up: kidney failure.
failure is incurable but easily managed with the proper diet, I was informed,
and Porch was prescribed a special low-protein cat food and plenty of water. I
was told that he wasn't sick enough to need fluid injections, or any of the
other symptom-easing procedures available, so there wasn't anything else I
But Porch was
starting to look pretty unhappy, so I scoured the Internet for details. I
learned that kidney failure was extremely rare in cats that weren't elderly,
and Porch couldn't have been more than a few years old. Explanations for early
onset were scarce, though one site suggested poisoning from antifreeze or some
other chemical that Porch might have accidentally ingested while looking for
nourishment during his nomadic days. Trauma to the kidneys from an accident or
a fight with another animal was another possible culprit. I also learned that
once a cat shows symptoms of the disease, he's probably already lost about 70%
of his kidney functioning. Then I learned that Porch probably had less than
four more years to live. And that a time would come when I'd have to make the
decision to have him put to sleep, because kidney failure can cause a
prolonged and painful death, sometimes accompanied by seizures or suffocation
as the lungs fill with fluid.
As I sat outside in
the lounge chair with Porch at the foot, stretching his favorite spot in the
mesh, I realized that he really needed me more than I had ever realized. I
could no longer entertain ideas of giving him away, and I'd have to bring him
indoors at some point so I could better monitor his care. It was going to be
tough, but I was in it for the long haul. I vowed to Porch that I'd do the
best I could do for him. Strangely, moments after I made this commitment to
Porch, he crawled into my lap for the very first time. He purred and was
perfectly relaxed, and I pet him for a long time. It was then that I really
bonded with him. After that day, he crawled in my lap frequently, rolling over
on his back and purring as I pet him. Porch found the special diet agreeable,
and for the first couple of weeks, he gained weight and seemed more energetic.
Finally I had hope! He had been diagnosed, and his problems seemed to be under
control for the first time.
But just a few
weeks later, Porch was emaciated again, he had dry heaves, and one of his paws
had cracked open and was bleeding profusely. I wasn't really satisfied with
the instructions I'd received for his care, so I took him to a third vet – one
that had received high recommendations from a friend.
Dr. Mary took one
look at Porch and shook her head. "This cat is having a really bad day," she
explained to me gently. "I'm afraid he doesn't have long." She ran some tests
and offered to put him in the hospital to receive IV fluids, but indicated
that his prognosis was poor and that the hospitalization would likely only
prolong his life for a few weeks. She said that he was experiencing suffering
– from pain, nausea, and chronic dehydration. She also said that his white
blood count indicated that he had another problem besides kidney failure –
perhaps cancer or a false-negative testing feline leukemia. She advised me to
keep him away from my indoor cats, as he might be contagious.
Knowing Porch was
terrified of strangers and strange places, I hesitated to put him through the
turmoil of hospitalization for a few extra weeks of life. I would have been
prolonging his life for my benefit, I reasoned, and not for his. So I brought
him home – with a heavy heart and a nagging fear that no good decision was
possible, and nothing I could do would be right.
Porch was irritated
with me over the vet trip, and resisted being petted the rest of the evening.
When I went to bed that evening, he looked uncomfortable and moody, but not
When I awoke the
next morning, he was not on the patio, which was highly unusual. I found him
several yards away, hiding in some bushes with his head down, trembling,
heaving, and occasionally crying. Within hours he was limp in my arms and I
was taking him to his very last vet appointment – this time without need of
the pet carrier.
I had expected
Porch to live for a few more years, and wasn't the least bit prepared to make
the decision to put him to sleep. I held him close and sobbed uncontrollably
while my boyfriend drove. I couldn't believe that I had failed Porch, that he
was leaving me just a few weeks after I had vowed to do my best for him.
The vet and the
assistants were solemn and compassionate; they had loved Porch and were sorry
to see him lose his battle. To my dismay, Porch conjured up his last reserve
of energy and struggled when he received the injection. His last moments were
spent with strangers' hands on him, and by the time he was handed to me, he
was already gone. I held him in my arms and continued to cry for quite some
time, reluctant to leave. I never really got to say goodbye, and I had been
powerless to spare him from fearful last moments in a car and on an operating
table. The only comfort I have is the knowledge that his passing, though it
wasn't ideal, was more comfortable than it could have been if I hadn't risen
to the very difficult challenge of easing his pain.
Porch captured the
hearts of all who met him, saw him through the screen door, or cared for him.
His scruffy appearance was endearing, and his exclusive relationship with me
was amusing to those who tried to make friends with him. Though I've brought
several cats to the vet over the years, the assistants fawned over Porch the
most, nicknaming him "Porch Kitty," and always asked about him when I visited
It isn't clear
whether Porch's health problems were congenital or caused by poisoning or some
other mishap on the street. But I bet he was an adorable kitten, and would
have been easy to find a home for, along with his brother, if his previous
owners had only tried. And I'm certain that a nice indoor home would have
greatly increased his comfort, his safety, and his chances of seeing his
Sandra, André and Elwood
We wanted to share
our experience of CRF with our beloved deceased Elwood for several reasons:
website helped us greatly when we were learning about CRF. Of course, the
most important thing is to be in regular contact with the vet who is
treating your cat, but thanks to the internet it is also possible to do
additional research and obtain information which under certain circumstances
may reduce the risk of premature euthanasia.
the experiences of other cat owners helped us with our grief.
Because this site
relies on contributions from cat owners who have lived through CRF with
Because this was
the best site I found on the subject of CRF.
Looking back, the
first signs were actually there quite a long time ago. It began with increased
vomiting. However, we did not think much of it since Elwood's behaviour did
not otherwise change in the slightest, i.e. he was just as lively as before,
he cleaned himself, played, had a good appetite and did not lose any weight.
Nevertheless, we did go to the vet. The vet said we should deworm Elwood. The
worst case scenario was that he had an upset stomach.
early symptom was a bad tooth, which eventually had to be removed. Several CRF
references mention the connection between dental procedures and CRF. Still,
the dental surgery went well and everything was fine again. This was 1-2
years ago now.
About two years
later he suddenly began to lose weight and was vomiting very frequently.
He also gradually became very lethargic. He would only lie in the window seat
and you could not persuade him to play. However he did not lose his
We went to the vet
and purchased prescription food for sensitive stomachs, which unfortunately
contained a lot of protein. We now know that CRF cats should eat reduced
protein food - we did not know that then.
One evening he
suddenly miaowed loudly while trying to poop - he was clearly in pain. He was
also pooping in front of his litter tray. He also had suddenly begun to drink
a lot and only from a cup - up until then he would only drink from the tap. We
decided to take him to the vet.
At the vet he was
examined, x-rayed and had blood taken. The x-ray showed that one kidney
was very thickened, and his kidney values were elevated. He also had a
lot of stool in his colon. He was given potassium, saline solution,
antibiotics and vitamin B.
Following the vet
visit, Elwood went steadily downhill. He just lay around and we realised that
he could not poop properly and was having trouble walking. He would walk a few
steps and then lie down. Two days later we returned to the vet in order to
discuss further treatment options. We had read on this website that it
is possible to give fluids at home. We wanted to spare Elwood unnecessary vet
visits, so we decided we would like to do this. The vet was very helpful
and showed us how to give sub-Qs. We gave Elwood sub-Qs, potassium, and
prescription food. However, he became increasingly weak. We fed
him by hand, mixed normal food in with the prescription food, gave him a
little cream in order to help him poop, and were thrilled when he suddenly
began to improve and started to eat again of his own volition. The vet said
that at this point the most important things were that he ate and pooped.
Online I had
discovered thanks to the stories of other cat owners that many CRF cats who
have appeared to be at death's door have in fact recovered and enjoyed a good
quality of life for many years. We therefore decided to leave no stone
unturned whilst trying to help Elwood. Plus we simply could not find it in our
hearts to put him to sleep. I would like to emphasise that I can
understand when somebody feels they have to choose euthanasia. However the
thought of choosing the time when Elwood should cross the Rainbow Bridge was
simply unbearable, because we still had hope. He suddenly began to jump on the
couch, he somehow had more energy and strength, and purred happily when we
stroked him. He was not quite his old self but any small success kept us
We cuddled Elwood a
lot during this period and also talked a lot to him, perhaps because we
subconsciously knew that our time together could be limited. My partner
took time off work, and I frequently left work earlier than usual - we wanted
to make the most of our time together. My mother came to visit us and
was very sad to see Ellwood so sick.
Ellwood's last day,
the 3rd of June 2004, was memorable. He suddenly lay in the corner of the
bathroom, which he had never done before. Then he crawled into a closet.
When I went to stroke him, I suddenly got the impression that he was now
blind. He also suddenly had a very distinctive smell. He spent most of
the day in the same position with his head down and his eyes open.
Before we went to
sleep we realised that his bed was wet. He was incontinent. Yet he did
not smell at all of urine. We gave him a new bed with a towel in it,
stroked him, talked to him and went to sleep.
At six o'clock in
the morning my partner woke up. He saw Ellwood in the lounge staring up
at his favourite spot, the window seat. He stroked him and Ellwood purred.
At about 8.15 I was
woken by Ellwood. I heard a kind of miaow, and I ran to him. He
lay outstretched in his bed and held his head very stiffly. Panic
stricken, I called my partner who carefully lay him back in his bed.
Everything began to
happen very fast. Ellwood seemed to be blind. He was twitching and
his heart was beating very fast. We both knew instinctively that he was
dying. We stroked him and told him that we were there, that he should
not be frightened and how much we loved him. Within five minutes he was
dead. We lay him on his favourite spot and stroked him from a long time.
In conclusion I
would like to emphasise that we are not opposed to euthanasia. In a hopeless
situation we would certainly choose this for the sake of the cat. But as long
as there is hope, one should leave no stone unturned when trying to help the
cat. As many cat owners before us have learned, the cat will tell you when it
is time. Elwood called us so that he did not have to die alone.
And we are thankful that we could both be with him when he crossed the Rainbow
Dear Elwood, we
miss you so much. You took your sub-Qs so bravely and you tried so hard
to eat the prescription food. Not a day goes by when we don't think
about you. We will see you again one day and until then we are thinking
about you and holding you in our hearts!
To conclude, I
would like to share a little story. Three days ago my boyfriend came
home and called out excitedly "don't be shocked, but I have a little surprise
for you". I didn't think anything of it. But what did I see? A sweet cat
with a resemblance to Elwood was looked at me in a rather bewildered manner.
My boyfriend had been stroking a cat which often sunbathes in our front
garden, and the cat then followed him into our apartment. Of course this "deja
vu" experience startled me and made me cry, but then we gave him some treats
(as we still have catfood in the house) and seeing a cat eating made me so
happy. We then took him back outside, but those two minutes together gave me
so much pleasure.
Katie and Whiskers
I had had
Whiskers since I was six years old. He had seen me through primary school,
intermediate school, college, and university, break ups with boyfriends
and friends, when my aunty died, and finally when I started working. He
was part of the family and my best friend. He always knew how to put a
smile on my face when I was down.
It was a
decision between him and this other kitten. We decided to take the one who
ran away from us and hid under the bed. The day we brought him home he hid
behind the stereo not knowing where he was. He turned into a beautiful
handsome fluffy boy who we loved so much. I remember when I was really
young and he always wanted to sleep on my bed. And when I swapped into the
other bed he would follow me.
He loved the sun and used to accompany me when I would sunbathe in the
back garden. On those cold nights he would stretch himself out in front of
the fire and sometimes on his back revealing his curly furry stomach. God,
he was cute.
Whiskers' world was shattered when my sister decided to adopt a tabby
kitten called Misty. Misty sure knew how to keep Whiskers on his toes,
teasing him, taking a swipe at him with her paw and eating his food. They
used to chase each other up and down the back lawn and throughout the
house on a daily basis. Even though we got Misty a few years after
Whiskers, Misty passed away in May 2003 from cancer. We all knew Whiskers
missed her, even though he considered her a pest.
Three years ago I decided to move out of home and into a flat. Whiskers
must've been upset because when I would come home to visit him he would
ignore me. I guess he was cleverer than I gave him credit for. It took a
while for me to win his heart back but eventually he would let me cuddle
him again and he would start sleeping on my bed again when I stayed at my
In June 2004 my sister and I went on a well-deserved holiday to Singapore
and Malaysia. So in total I had not seen Whiskers for about one month due
to exams, work and holiday. I could not believe it when I saw him. This
once rather fat cat who had had no serious health problems before was all
of a sudden so thin and had smelly breath. Of course living with him every
day you wouldn't notice. Mum decided to take him to the vet to have tests.
The worst was confirmed. He was at a very severe stage of kidney failure
and there was nothing the vet could do. That was only two weeks ago. Mum
and I cried that day and me most days for the next two weeks. I was so
upset my best friend was dying and there was nothing I could do for him.
The next two
weeks were absolutely horrible. I went to stay with him for three nights
in the first week, and would ring mum every morning and evening to check
on him. We fed him low-protein Hills food (which he hated) and tried to
give him half a pill once a day. That was it - that was all we could do
for him. There was no fresh schnitzel or fish for him anymore. So Whiskers
slept on my bed and I gave him so many hugs and just sat with him in the
last two weeks. We made a warm bed for him and put his litter box inside.
He still loved lying by the fire and would still try to jump at our
dinner. He had lots of visitors during this time - both my sisters came
over to see him and give him cuddles.
We slowly watched Whiskers go downhill from the day we found out the news.
Day by day something else would go wrong with him; he would stop washing
himself, had trouble eating and would grind his teeth, find it hard to lie
on his side and not be settled, and eventually he found it hard to even
sit down. On the Wednesday of the second week I was worried when mum said
he had not eaten. I was hoping that maybe it was temporary. On Thursday
mum rang me at work and said he had still not eaten and that she had found
blood in his bed. She said he had also disappeared outside for one hour,
which was so unlike him. She worried he had gone away to die and said it
would only be kind for him to let him go. The appointment was scheduled
for 6.15pm on Friday. I was absolutely devastated. I cried so much at work
I had to have time out.
On Friday I took the day off work to spend with him and take final photos.
He was so sick. I could not believe how much worse he had got since I saw
him on Monday. He really did look like he was not enjoying life and barely
purred anymore. It really got to me when I followed him behind the TV and
picked him up to put him in his litter box but it was too late. I had
never seen him like that before. They say cats tell you when they want to
go. I really think he was reaching out for us to do something and just
wanted to be peaceful. I just kept looking at the clock thinking only 6
hours, 4 hours, 2 hours 1 hour, ... 15 minutes.
Then it was
time. We wrapped him in a towel and took him to the vet. I cried all
afternoon and at the vet. Mum gave him kisses and I hugged him as the
injection was put in. Within a few seconds he was no longer standing
anymore and was lying on the bench with his eyes open. He then took
another couple of short breaths. Mum and I were absolutely gutted. It was
so hard to walk out the door and leave him there. That was the worst day
of my life. It is really hard to get that vision out of my mind.
We took his favourite toy kittens to be cremated with him. We decided it
would be too sad to bring home his ashes - instead they would be sprinkled
over a farm where Misty is. I stayed with mum that night to keep her
company. Whiskers had sat on her knee everyday for the past 18 years. The
next morning mum could've sworn she heard Whiskers meowing and I had a
dream he had been put down but was still alive and happy. I ask mum now
where he is and is he happy. She says he's playing with Misty and knows
how much we care for him. I never wanted to put Whiskers down but after
seeing all this happen to him I knew that he would be so much happier now.
The Tuesday before he died I got a little 7 week old grey and white
long-haired kitten and am keeping him at my flat. His name is Smokey. If
it wasn't for Smokey, I don't know what I'd do. He is so full of energy
and has a wonderful personality. I felt so bad because I felt like I was
replacing Whiskers. I thought I could never love another pet like I love
Whiskers but Smokey is so adorable.
Whiskers 1986 -
23 July 2004
"We who choose
to surround ourselves with lives
temporary than our own
live within a
Unable to accept
its awful gaps, we still would live no other way.
memory as the only certain immortality,
understanding the necessary plan."
Irving Townsend "The Once Again Prince"