Monday, May 22, 2017

And then there were four

Garden girl
It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve been through this, it always hurts. And there’s always a surprisingly big hole in the house from the loss of a small cat.

We lost Alice on Saturday. It was completely unexpected. We came home from an afternoon errand, and when I went upstairs, I saw her on the bed and went to pet her. Alice was always skittish; she didn’t come in until she was at least 3, and she had that female-cat-on-the-street wariness that never wore off, even when she wanted to relax.

She let me pet her head for a bit, then rolled over, put her leg in the air and began to wash. I started to turn away, and my eye was caught by something red. There was a large, red, fleshy thing under her tail that hadn’t been there the day before.

Tired mama cat, still outside
Side note: why is it that pets never get sick except for nights, weekends and holidays when your regular vet isn’t available? 

We took her down to Penn Vet Hospital, which is only about 8 blocks away (and which I have taken advantage of more times than I can count in the 17 years I’ve lived in my house). They were pretty busy, but she was seen quickly and after about 1.5 hours a resident came out to talk to me and get a history.

I gave her Alice’s background, including the fact that she reacted badly to anesthesia and that I generally let her issues ride, in the hopes that they would heal on their own (a cut paw and an eye infection healed; she had to be vetted for her bad teeth). Because the thing on her rear looked so odd – red, but not bloody, and recent – I asked if it could be possible that Alice had actually pooped out some of her insides.

Thinking about life indoors (with Max)
The resident said that a prolapse was possible, though usually it was a dog thing, not a cat thing. She said that would be a good thing because they could just give her a light sedative, reinsert it and put in a few stitches. Fingers were crossed. About a half hour later, the real vet came out with the news. 

It wasn’t a prolapse, it was a mass; but yes, she had actually strained so hard that she pooped out the mass. It had probably been growing for a while, giving her some trouble in the litterbox, but not enough to actually cause the kind of discomfort that would make her alert me to a problem. He said that she was sitting calmly in her cage, alternating between snacking and cleaning this newly-found piece of her anatomy without a seeming care in the world.

Which, to me, at least meant that she wasn’t in pain yet. I already knew that mass = not a good thing = either remove or euthanize. I said to the vet that I didn’t really want to put her through sedation and surgery at the age of 15, and asked his thoughts. He said that he agreed (which was surprising, because Penn is generally very eager to part you from your money) and said that the surgery wouldn’t be as complicated as the recovery, due to where the mass was. It would be difficult to keep clean, and she obviously wouldn’t be able to use the area for a while. I didn’t even ask if he was talking about a bowel resection or something traumatic like that, I just told him that I would wait in the exam room until he brought Alice in so I could spend a little time with her.

Which he did, and we had a nice, un-Alice-like cuddle. Which to me feels almost like she knew what was coming and could finally relax. After about 15 minutes, he came back and gave her the first shot, which would relax her and eventually make her go to sleep. While that was kicking in, I rubbed both her always-itchy ears and could feel her feet moving in the blanket. Then, slowly, they stopped and her purring quieted. He gave her the second shot, and later I walked home with the empty carrier.

I’ve been here before. It’s never easy, but this was easier than some. There are worse things than going before you realize you’re sick, before you’re in pain. There are worse things than making the decision to let a loved kitty go before you’re ready, but she is.

We had her for 12 years after she invited herself in on Valentine’s Day 2005 by climbing onto my porch roof and scratching at my bedroom window. She was at least 15, and probably felt older sometimes after spending her early years on the street and having at least 3 litters of kittens. She wouldn’t have made it 12 years out there.

Alice. Alice Marie. Little Alice Roundhead. A-Bomb. Alley Rabbit. Rabbit Cat. Bunny Cat. Bunniqua. Owlis.  Little Mama.

She was all those cats and more. Mom to Nicky and Harriet, both still around (one oblivious, one looking for her). She will be missed.

15 comments:

Unknown said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. For such small beings they do leave a big hole. May you rest & have peace. Much love,
"Bobcat scratch-it" (age 16)

Moosiemoose said...

I am so sorry for your loss. As a pet owner myself, I can identify with what you had to face and I am sitting here weeping. But you are wise to know what was best for Alice and able to let her go. Jean

Anonymous said...

What a difficult time for you - thankfully as bad for Alice as it could have been. Thank you for sharing your story.

ceci

Eva Patterson said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I truly understand. Just know that you gave her life love.

Elizabeth said...

My kitties and I all send our sympathies :(

Valerie said...

So sorry, it always hurts, even when you know it coming, even when you know it is the right thing. And yes, best to go before the pain, the inevitable disability. I recently said goodbye to my 17-yo dachshund, who had been in a slow decline for a year. The best thing my vet said to me was "you don't have to let them bottom out before you say goodbye." A good life and a peaceful end.

Nancy Hale said...

I'm so sorry for your loss; it never gets easier, especially when we have to choose to let them go. I'm crying for you and for your Alice, and hoping that good memories of her help sustain you.

Sharon L said...

Losing one of our own is always difficult. I love all your nicknames - we had several for our girl too. You are a great mom, very compassionate. I'm thankful you were there for her.

golden star said...

Sending Light to you and the loved ones.

Summer Flies said...

I'm sorry for you again...so sad.

Rachael K. said...

So sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing her story. I'm glad she had a good life with you, and that her passing was peaceful and with you holding her.

Leanne Gifford said...

I'm so sorry.

Kay said...

So sorry. She was a pretty girl. In her pictures she has a self-contained dignity. I'm glad for both of you that you had her as long as you did, but sorry she had to go before you were ready.

sew.mad5 said...

So so sorry for your loss.

jane said...

Sorry for your loss. We lost a cat more than 24 years ago and I still miss him. He was a superb cat. I know he sits in heaven on the right hand of God or maybe Mark Twain. Alice may be there too.