Saturday, September 20, 2008

I remember you - the last years

I am sorry to say that we had to put our beloved cat down today. She was 17 years old, and had been living with renal failure since the age of 9. She was getting sicker and sicker, and we were no longer able to keep her comfortable. She had been my cat ever since she was a baby. She was a beautiful and patient animal, who loved to cuddle. She meant a great deal to me; to our whole family. Saying good-bye is very difficult. I loved her, and I will miss her horribly.

Grief sucks.

Note: If you are not a cat person, you may want to just skip over the remainder of this post.

Related posts: I remember you - the middle years; I remember you - the early years

I remember when you got sick. How you lay still, letting me do the things that I knew annoyed you, and I knew right away that you needed help. I remember taking you to emergency, and how scared I was. Okaying the bloodwork and the IV. And I remember crying when I heard your diagnosis of renal failure, and how I broke down when I picked you up after the long weekend and they told me that you were living on borrowed time.

I remember visiting you in the hospital. At emergency, and at your regular vet. You with your little front foot all bandaged up, holding your IV in place. How you would pace around to get petting. How your IV would tangle up and have to be straightened. How you would work so hard to get the attention of other animals around you, so that you could hiss at them while they were looking.

I remember when they had to start force-feeding you, to keep you well. Taking in cans of wet protein-reduced cat food, marinated in the water from cans of tuna, trying to entice you to eat. Feeding you from my fingers; you lapping up the food willingly. But not enough. Never enough. And I remember finding out that they had still force-fed you in my absence.

I remember having to give you subcutaneous fluid shots, and how you decided that you would rather eat off of a china plate than from a bowl. And how you insisted on sitting on a magazine on the floor during mealtimes. The brief period when you made H and I serenade you with appropriate soft dinner music before you would eat. The words to "The Briar and the Rose". And I remember having to force-feed you despite all of those things, whenever you were out of sorts. Your pill cocktail and your special food, that never seemed to be quite enough to keep you going.

I remember calling the vet in desperation and asking if we could feed you cottage cheese and french fries, because I knew you would eat those things, and you would not eat your food. And I remember the vet saying that you needed to be on your special protein reduced catfood, and H and I working so hard to ensure that you got enough nourishment to sustain you.

I remember all the times that I thought we were going to lose you, and how you always pulled through. The tears I cried each time you seemed to worsen, and the relief I felt each time you improved. And I remember the miracle pill, and how much better you felt after that was added into your regimen. We were able to discontinue your fluid and anti-inflammatory shots after that, and force-feeding became an occasional duty, rather than a twice daily chore. Were it not for all the pills and the special food, we would have forgotten that you were even sick.

I remember how you started putting weight back on. And how your energy began to return. And I remember your beautiful fur, that had gotten so thin and dull while you were sick, returning to its lovely full lustre once more. My mom said petting you was like putting her hand in a bag of flour, and she compared your coat to that of a chinchilla.

I remember taking you to your vet appointments, and how they marvelled at how well you were doing. The vet grabbing hold of the skin on your neck and twisting it back and forth madly to show us how well hydrated you were. And the heat wave when you started to lose steam and needed a brief IV to perk you back up. How you snarled at the little children who wanted to pet you, only allowing H and myself near your kennel. The notation on your file of "VERY grumpy today!" And how you would do your little soldier crawl across the table to H or me whenever the vet would try to examine you.

I remember all of the love that you would bestow on us. How you would demand to be as close to us as possible. And how you would lick our hands and then rub the insides of your ears against the wet spot, cleaning your head. That one time when you climbed into H's bathrobe and squirmed down into his sleeve.

I remember how you would climb up on the computer tower. How you would sleep there silently, beside the modem, while I worked on my classes, and I wouldn't even know you were there until I somehow disturbed your slumber. And I remember how you would sometimes spark the computer when you sat too close to its front, making the system restart itself right when I was in the middle of something.

How we'd buy you new collars, and you'd get your foot stuck in them trying to remove them. How you'd climb up on the kitty condo, only to be pushed off by the other cat. How you would chase other cats away from any space that you deemed to be your territory, and how you would climb in the laps of anyone who looked like they might be interested in petting you. Your special game of "chase the ball", where you and your buddy would sit at either end of the stairs and meow at each other until one of you would pounce on a ball, and then you'd both tear around the house trying to get it first. And your honeysuckle treats, that made you so happy.

I remember your companionship through my months of bed rest when I was pregnant with J. How you slept on my tummy, and how nonplussed you were when J would kick. You would just kind of bob up and down, but you never move away. You were a great comfort to me. Anytime I felt sad, I could always count on seeing your little pink nosed whiskered face peering up at me, and I always felt loved and needed at just the sight of you, and it made me happier to see you.

I remember when we brought J home from the hospital. We were so nervous about how you might react to him. But you were so good with the baby. You never hissed or snarled or snapped at him at all. And as he grew bigger, I remember being amazed at your patience with him. How you would allow him to pick you up and carry you around the house, even though you obviously hated it. How you let him snuggle with you, even when you clearly wanted to be alone.

I remember when your miracle pill stopped working as well. You started peeing outside of your litter box. And I remember taking you to the vet and being told that it appeared to be a behavioral problem. Cleaning the floors, replacing the carpets, and trying to repair the warped baseboards that you had damaged. Sticking with you. Trying to get you to go in your litter box exclusively once more.

I remember when I was put on bed rest with N, and how you would come to cuddle with me as I lay still. And I remember how your breath began to smell, knowing that you were getting sicker because of the kidney enzyme smell that came out of your mouth. I wanted to be near you, but I was so nauseous with morning sickness and so sensitive to smells that I couldn't cuddle you the way I wanted to. And I felt so badly about that. I remember how you gravitated to H during that time, and how you stopped really wanting to cuddle with me any longer.

I remember when your once bright green eyes grew dim, and began to leak fluid at the corners. The beautiful sleepy grey streaks by your eyes, now clouded in crustiness. Your fur, thinning and losing its sheen. Your movements slowing. I remember how reluctant you became to climb up the stairs. How you started to make us carry you up and down.

I remember when you stopped wanting to eat, and your weight began to drop off. How you began to throw up several times each and every day. And when you started to poop at the back door or in the basement.

I remember crying when I realized that we were no longer keeping you healthy. That you were 17 years old. That you had survived with renal failure for 8 years, and that perhaps your time had come. I remember struggling with that realization, and finally trying to do what was best for you. I remember making the phone call, and booking your appointment. You were in pain now. I didn't want you to suffer any longer. But I hated making that call, and would have done anything to have avoided it.

I remember how my mom and H didn't want me to go to your appointment. How they thought it would be too hard on me. And how I insisted that I needed to be there for you. You were such a good little cat. Such a good little friend and family member. I loved you so much, and I needed to be there with you at the end so that we could say good-bye. I see that it was the right choice, though it was hard on me.

I remember holding you at the vet, and talking to the doctor. And I remember pleading with them to find another way; to fix you and make you whole again. I remember the doctor telling us that any other way would be selfish. That you would suffer if we waited. That this was the right thing for you. That this would be painless, and that this was what you would want. I remember H and I looking at one another, hopeless and devastated, and reluctantly agreeing that she was right.

I remember those moments, holding you and petting you. I remember your kisses on my hands, me kissing your sweet pink nose those last times. The doctor taking you away to get prepped. Kissing you. Petting you. The shot, and your painless passing. Staying with you for those last moments, carressing your fur, your precious ears. Saying good-bye.

I'll never forget you, my sweet little girl. I am so sorry that we couldn't find a way to keep you with us; that we couldn't find some way to make your pain go away and make you whole and healthy once more. I would have given anything to change it, to bring you home with me.

I'm sorry, my sweet kitty.

But I remember. I remember all of it.

I remember you. Always.

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