Thursday, July 28, 2011
EDIT COMMENT: I started writting this blog on Wednesday July 27th, and did not get it posted until well after midnight. So it looks like it was a reflection on Thursday, but was really Wednesday.
Today was one of the hardest days of my life. I had to have my cat Simon put to sleep. I am devastated. Simon had kidney failure, was not eating and was down to only 7 pounds - barely more than skin and bones. He used to weigh well over 12 pounds so this was a big drop in weight. He lost 1 1/2 pounds just in the last month.
I know he was hungry because he would go over to his feed area and wait for me to put food down. Then he would sniff it and continue to sit there, finally he would have something to drink and then walk away. He just did not eat. Did not or could not.
Near the end of May, Simon got sick, was not peeing, pooping, or eating or drinking and was crying every time he tried to pee. He actually would not go to his litter box at all but tried to use paper or a sock or any thing he could “nest” in. I have since read that cats do this because they associate pain with the litter box. I took him to the vet and turns out he had a bladder infection and had also lost about 30 percent Kidney function. They gave him an anti-biotic and some fluids under the skin. They said he probably should stay in the clinic for a couple of days but it would cost about $400 just for that (not the vet fees or any medication included.) I had been out of work for so long, I just could not afford it so we did what we could. She told me to only feed him canned or “wet” food to help with the kidney function as he was not getting enough liquid and the dry only made that worse.
He was eating ok for a while after the vet visit, but slowly ate less and less. I had tried several brands of food and tried lots of flavours. For the past week or so he would eat the gravy, but would not eat any of the solids. If there wasn’t any gravy in the can, he wouldn’t even touch it. Yesterday I went to the store and bought some liver and ground some up. He sure came running when I called his name and showed him the dish but he did not touch it. I even put a small piece of raw liver down by itself, would not touch that either. So I cooked the piece of liver and the rest of the ground, had put a little water in the pan and he lapped the water but would not touch the meat. Since the weekend he was not even eating the gravy....
The vet told me that it is very common with kidney failure. She said we could put him in the hospital and feed him intravenously and give him fluid under the skin, but she said within a couple of days he would be right back where he was today -- his kidneys were going, going, gone, and he would not be getting better. It was a very painful decision to make, but I am still without a job so money is even more scarce now than it was 2 months ago, plus I had noticed in the last little while that he was becoming a bit unsteady on his feet, stumbled a bit, not able to jump from the couch to my chair like he usually did, and I could tell he was in pain. I did not want him to suffer any more than he was already, so I had to ask her to put him down. It was very peaceful for him and quick but it still hurts ME like the devil.
Simon came to me on August 31, 1995. He was about 1 1/2 years old but I never knew when his birthday was. He would be about 16 1/2 years old now. On August 30th of this year, I would have had him for 15 years. I don't know why the previous people called him Simon but that is the name he came with.
He was very upset by the move and new digs and new face (me). I never really saw him for the first week but I would hear him wandering around at night. I finally found his hiding place -- which was under the head of the bed up against the wall. Once I found that, I would lie on the bed when I got home from work, and just talk softly to him. Eventually, he started coming out to roam around the house when I was home. The first few times I picked him up he fought like crazy, but I held him firmly and started kissing his forehead, and eventually he got so that he would come to me and DEMAND kisses.
He did swat me a lot though, and when I took him to a nearby vet for a check up, and told him, he suggested that I have him de-clawed (just the front). Well I was going to be away over Christmas so we did it then where he could be in the clinic and watched during the healing process. At the same time he was tattooed (for identification) and had one of those implants (about the size of a grain of rice) that is registered as to his name and address. It was so funny when I got home from Christmas and was picking him up from the vet, they showed me the scanner and how it worked, and then put it down on top of his blanket (which I had taken to the clinic so he would have something familiar with him) I gathered up his toys, blanket, his dish and food, and I put the scanner in my cart as well. A couple of days later they phoned me to see if I had accidentally brought it home with me. After that, every time he went to that clinic they would say "Here's Simon, keep and eye on the scanner".
This vet had told me to only feed Simon IAMS dry cat food. A year later when I had him back for another check up, the vet asked what I fed him and I told him, he said something like “finally, someone who actually listened to me.” I now believe this was very bad advice because everything I have read and heard recently suggest that if one cannot make homemade food, cats should actually eat canned or “wet” food. – not because of kidney function in general but because of nutrition. Many dry foods have plant-based protein and high amounts of carbs and that is not good for cats. Also, it is thier make up not to get thirsty so should always have water available with thier food.
Simon and I have had our little ups and downs, but usually he would come running up to me when I got home from work or shopping or where ever, excited to see me, One time I had been gone for a couple of weeks and had a friend come in to feed him and clean his litter box. He hated strangers so would not let her get near him. When I got home, I put my suitcase down in the bedroom and yelled "Honey, I'm home" I heard this goshawful meeooww and he literally galloped down the (very) long room from the front of the living area, through the dining area up to me at the entrance way. He cuddled with me for about half an hour then all of sudden he swatted my face (thank goodness he did not have any front claws) and jumped down, then would not come anywhere near me for a couple of hours. But by bedtime, he was right there demanding “his” attention. Shortly after he came to me, I had to stop sleeping flat and bought a recliner to sleep in. Simon would always curl up on the footrest and sleep between my feet, but boy he got mad if I tried to shift position in the night.
Another time -- I don't know why -- he was walking past me and attacked my leg, taking a large piece of skin. Then a few minutes later he did it again to my other leg. I got a very severe infection from those bites and after that I nicknamed him Simon-Ella.
He was plagued with a lot of hairballs and that had to be hard on his little system but he would not take any hairball medicine nor eat any special hairball formula food. I later found out he also had some teeth problems but a good cleaning seemed to take care of that.
I moved several times after Simon came to live with me and he hated it. He would find a perch and not let anyone (friends and helpers) near him. If anyone went near him - even me - he would snarl and if anyone got too close, he might even try to bite. Even if I wasn't packing to move, he would get very upset if he saw a box. Poor darling.
Every time I got mad at him and threatened to send him to the glue factory he would come up and cuddle into my neck. Now who can stay mad at such adorableness (is that a word?) He loved to find a high perch, often on top of the china cabinet. The first place I moved to after Simon came to live with me, I was actually using one of the bedrooms as my living room (because the bedroom was too small for a craft table and the living room was too small to be both. He loved to climb up onto the top shelf of the closet (there was no door) and he could look down on me. Sadly the last couple of apartments did not have anyplace to perch, but he always managed to find a place to hide. Often it was in the back of the closet on some piece of clothing hat had fallen off a hanger. More recently he had been getting in behind the couch and could stay there for hours at a time. Lately though, he didn't even do that, he just spent all his time sleeping on the couch.
In 2006 I was offered a severance package by the hospital where I had been working for over 14 years. Had I declined, I would not have lost my job just then, but the hospital was downsizing to eventual closure, so there was a possibility that if I stayed right to the end, I would not be offered any severance at all. I used this as an opportunity to move to Edmonton where my twin sister and her family lived. When I took Simon to the vet to get his vaccination updated, that is when they discovered his teeth problem. By this time, my recliner was wearing out, so it got put in the dumpster and left behind. My brother in law said someone had moved out of a building he was managing and left a green recliner behind so I could have that when I moved into my new place.
I asked my sister if I could stay with her until I found a job and then a place to live and she agreed but she could not have Simon stay with them. For one, the house was too busy with so many people coming and going, and I was afraid he would get out and maybe wander away and I would never see him again - maybe attacked by a dog or run over on a busy city street. But even more so, her daughter and husband were allergic to cat fur AND she does not like to have pets around at all. So I found a cat only boarding kennel. The owners were going to be away about the time I arrived in Edmonton so I put him in one kennel for about 3 weeks. The reason I moved him was because this place was way down on the south side of the city and my sister lived way up on the north side, plus I liked the look of the other place. Turns out that neither place was very good for him. The first place had very small cages, barely big enough for a litter box on the floor and a small shelf for him to lay on. Apparently they never let him out of that little cage - they said he never wanted to come out. Maybe, maybe not, Could be all the other cats around scared him, I don't know. The second place was better insofar as the cage was a bit bigger and at least he had some floor space to move around, plus a perch where he could still see out but not be seen if he did not want to be seen. However, the owners’ husband was apparently afraid of him so he was left in his cage all the time. She said she was afraid that if he decided to hide from them out in the big main area, they might not be able to get him back into his cage for the night.
Finally I got a job and found my own apartment. I think he had forgotten me (or was very, VERY mad at me) because he sure didn't want anything to do with me for a couple of days, but eventually he got over that and we settled back into our routine. After this big move, we have had over 4 more years to enjoy each other. Luckily, the apartment I rented had some furniture left in it, including a fairly new recliner so for a while Simon and I each had our own chairs to sleep in but he would still curl up between my feet in the middle of the night. One day the green chair “bit” me so I asked my BIL to put it in the dumpster.
While he did like some cuddling he was never an overly affectionate cat. It was always on his terms and never of a long duration, sometimes only once ever day or two. But over the past year or so, he had become much more affectionate often falling asleep on my shoulder as I slept in my chair. Funny, he did not want to sleep between my feet anymore and in recent weeks he wouldn’t even sleep on my shoulder. He would get his cuddling and kissing (and boy did he want a lot of that !) then go back to the couch to sleep. I think he was in a lot of pain and could not get comfortable.
The past two months have been so precious a time with him - a bonus! I am so very grateful for that time, but this apartment seems so cold and empty without him tonight.
Tomorrow I have the heartbreaking task of gathering up all his stuff and getting it ready to give away.