Posted in lessons

Euthanasia- a change in perspective

Momo the baby boy

I have always said “I don’t believe in euthanasia, it is playing God.” and “I could never give the order to kill my cat” but at the same time I recognized the need to not allow you baby to suffer. They seem mutually exclusive, well yes and no.

Snickerdoodle as a kitten

Our first cat Snickerdoodle when down fast (just 18 hrs). All her systems shut down and we’re not quite sure why; she was 11.5 yrs old. The only forwarning I had was she loved going for walks on her harness; the month prior to her death she would BEG me to take her for a walk, then one day she quit asking. I should have been suspicious but what was I going to say? “I’m bringing her to the vet because she doesn’t want to go for a walk?” Odd.

I am forever grateful that she died peacefully without help at the animal hospital. The vet called that morning and said “I think we need to help her so she doesn’t suffer”. Just as I was going in to my montra about how I didn’t believe in it, she passed away. I didn’t have to say the word, or give permission, she did it on her own. My only regret is I wish I had been there telling her I loved her. (but I digress)

Now with the end of Momo’s life on the horizon we again are faced with the fact that we will probably have to use euthanasia to end his suffering. I still don’t believe in it and I feel like we are playing God, but he has cancer in his nose. We did all we could but we didn’t catch it soon enough and while we made a good effort, the chemo only knocked it back for a time before the cancer came roaring back with a vengence.

We were getting 3 weeks of no symptoms. When it was down to 2, my husband said we need to stop the chemo, it’s getting expensive. I thought ‘If we get another 2 weeks symptom free I will fight for Mo to get at least 1 more dose of Chemo and when we aren’t getting 2 weeks anymore then it will be time to stop.’ I didn’t get my chance, in a 1.5 weeks the symptoms came roaring back.

He did pretty well for a while; he was pretty loud when he breathed but besides that he was (for the most part) his usually demanding self; until yesterday.
When I got up in the morning he seemed to be ok, I had been hand feeding him because he wasn’t eating willingly on his own.
Our Homeowners Association was having elections that day and I volunteered to sit at the ballot box and help hand out ballots. I was able to get a break around 1pm and came home to get some lunch and do some other things around the house.
To my shock Mo was stumbling around like a severe drunk, he couldn’t stand up for very long and fell over when he tried to walk; (we think he has a stroke) I knew in my heart this was it.

So I guess it boiles down to quality of life, or at least for me it does.
When he was just a heavy, loud breather and at the same time was still his usual bratty self, he had quality of life. When he still enjoyed sleeping with dad, screaming loudly that he found his toys, then refused to give them up; he still had quality of life. He didn’t seem to be in pain, it was just more difficult to breathe.

But now with him stumbling around, refusing to eat or drink (even when being hand fed), not able to enjoy any of his favorite things, and is not himself, it is time.

I told him several times ‘When you’re ready to go, when you’re tired and don’t have any more fight in you, let us know and we will honor that.’

It is time.

Posted in Health

The dreaded “C” word

There it is, finally an answer to the burning question.

For MONTHS our regular vet has been telling us our Siamese’s wheezing was just allegries, and I foolishly believed him. Finally one day when Momo could hardly breathe I had enough and called a specialty hospital 45 mins away from home that is able to do emergency medicine and has an oncology department. I made an appointment and brought him in. After a physical exam and an MRI we had our answer CANCER in his left nostral.

Then comes the next question; how hard do we fight? We have no children so our cats are our substitue children. They are spoiled rotten and we go to great lengths to make sure they are healthy, happy and get (at least most) of what they want. But chemo is expensive; $500 a pop expensive and my guess is we waited too long to be able to actually get it in to remission.

We are in the middle of this journey, we are chasing health for him. When he has his chemo he feels good, he’s a royal brat and back to the old Momo we know and love. But when the cancer comes roaring back in a couple of weeks he is miserable and we HATE seeing him like that. My husband is ready to stop chemo, it’s getting too expensive and I agree but maybe there is another answer? At least until we are aren’t getting 2 weeks between treatments anymore.

So what have we learned from this journey?

  1. Trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, if whatever it is feels like it’s going on too long get a second opinion, it doesn’t hurt it can only confirm what you are being told.
  2. Try to balance quality of life with cost. This is a tough one since if you’re like me he’s not going down with out a mama bear fight. Only you know what you’re finances look like and what the quality of life will be.
  3. You need to find the balance that is right for you. You are the only ones that can determine that.
  4. Don’t let it wreck your relationship. Finances are one of the number one reasons for partner fights, and newsflash your pet (unfortunately) will likely not out live you even if they do live to a ripe old age. You will have that partner for much longer. Find a way to get on the same page, make a compromise, whatever you need to do.
  5. Plan for the future. This is a difficult one for us since we are dealing with cancer the likely hood is that we will have to use euthanasia to end his suffering eventually but, you can think about how you want your cat’s final days to be. Do you want to take them to a favorite place. When the time comes do you want the lights low and low music (if allowed). I think there is power in the planning where if you set things they way you want, or way you think you’re kitty would want, it takes some of the power out of the uncertainty.
  6. Finally after they cross the rainbow bridge where do you want their final resting place? Do you want to bury them in a favorite garden or choose cremation and keep the ashes?
    The choice is yours

How do you remember remember your furbabies that have crossed the rainbow bridge?
Comment below (please be kind)