Katie, the older of my two cats, is sick and I think she’s dying. I had sort of noticed that she was losing weight for some time. Back at the end of June, I went to Costa Rica for nine days. When I got back, its as obvious she had lost a fair amount of weight. Even though my friend Justin was stopping in to feed them and play with them, I figured she didn’t eat much while I was away. (I’ve noticed in the past that if I go away for a day or two, they don’t really eat until I get back.)
I took her to the vet to see about her weight loss and for a regular visit. She had gone from 9+ pounds to 6+ pounds in 2 years. She still had a great appetite, was playful when I got the laser pointer out, purred the second I touched her, and seemed generally happy. The vet couldn’t find anything wrong with her, but did some bloodwork. While the results of the bloodwork were back in a few days, it took another week for the vet at CityPaws (14th and Swann Streets) to return any of the three voicemails, or two messages I left with staff. I was pissed and about 1 call away from filing a complaint with the veterinarian licensing board. The bloodwork was fine.
She said that it could still be cancer, but might be an inflammatory bowel disease. She recommended two pills and a special, non-allergenic, diet. Neither was a big hit with Katie. She may look weak, but when you hold her down and try to pry her mouth open to shove a pill in it, she can put up quite a fight. When I tried hiding it in her wet food, she’d either eat around the pill, or ignore the whole thing if I had crushed it. Neither cat would eat the special food. Since it cost $55 a case for the wet version, I’m glad they had a money-back guarantee.
So, I figured that wasn’t going to work. If she’s dying, I don’t want her last days/weeks/months to involve me holding her down every day and shoving pills down her throat. It was traumatic for both of us. I decided I’d get a lot more liberal with the wet food (which used to be only a special treat) and just try to fatten her up and keep her happy. I did figure out that I can dissolve one of the two pills in the wet food juice and she’ll eat that, although they often switch bowls, so Alex is probably eating as much of the medicine as Katie is.
Katie seemed to be doing well for a while. She was a little weak; I’d see her hesitate before jumping onto the couch. But, she seemed to be doing ok, holding steady.
But this last week, she’s been getting visibly more frail. She won’t jump up on the couch or the bed, at all. If I lift her up, she is still affectionate and happy, but if she walks near the edge, she’s likely to fall off. Two nights ago, I heard her fall off the bed, so I haven’t put her up there at all. At times, she stumbles when she’s walking. Her legs seem to get tangled up and trip her. She can only turn to the left and at times appears to not be able to see well. This morning, she stepped in her wet food, but then couldn’t seem to find the bowl, until I rattled it against the floor.
I’ve had her for about 10 years, and she was 1-2 years old when I got her. She’s always been a sweetheart of a cat. I got her at a pet adoption day that was held at Petco in Pittsburgh. She was the third cat I played with. When they brought her into the little room, she immediately jumped up on the bench, laid down beside me, and started purring. I knew instantly I was going to take her home.
Most young cats like to tear around the house and destroy things. (Alex! Stop that!) Not Katie. She would go to bed with me, and sleep the entire night, only getting up to move if turned over. Even when I got Alex a few years later, who bullies her, Katie remained a sweetheart. She would walk up to Alex and try to rub noses. It usually ended in hissing and a fight.
Despite the fact that I made Katie and Alex both promise that they’d never die, I think Katie’s dying. It’s very sad. If I think about it too directly, I can feel myself tearing up.
She still seems happy. When I pick her up, she purrs almost instantly. She spends the night sleeping next to the bed and follows me around the apartment constantly. She’s moving more slowly, and at times stumbles and falls. I got the laser pointer out yesterday, and she tried to chase it, but seemed to have trouble seeing it. She’s grown old gracefully and stoically. She doesn’t seem to be bothered by the fact that she can’t do many of the things she used to.
I’m hoping that when it’s her time, she goes to sleep and just doesn’t wake up. I don’t want to have to take her to the vet to have her put to sleep. She’s terrified of the pet carrier, and
the vet’s office. I don’t want her last memories to be of fear. And on a more selfish note, I don’t think I can sit there and hold her and tell her how much I love her, while they put her to sleep. I can barely even write about it. It’s hard to see the screen with tears rolling down my face.
I guess that I’ll have to do it, if she gets to the point where she looks like she’s in pain. Until then, I guess I’ll just pick her up and pet her as much as I can. I’m also trying to get Alex to be nicer to her. For a few weeks, she was nicer, even going up and licking Katie’s face while she slept. But lately, Alex has been back to her bullying, hitting or bitting Katie when she walks by.
Sometimes I wonder why we even bother to have pets if they’re going to get old and die. And apparently, cats lie, so don’t believe them when they make a promise to you.