Friday, June 03, 2011

Friday cat blogging: approaching an end

Frisker looks out from her carrier on the way home from a visit to the vet.

The vet informed us this week that the moment we've feared for several years has come. Frisker has reached the end of any plausible medical intervention's capacity to keep her going with a good quality of life. She is about 19 years old, arthritic, and is developing stomach tumors. We are forced to face the responsibility that people who choose to live with a domestic animal assume.

Frisker is the third cat we've lived with, but we've not really faced this before.

The first one, a sad ditz of a feline, met her end under the wheels of a passing car. It was not really possible to be surprised; she had no sense.

The second one just dragged herself along well into old age, until one day she died on my lap. We were too busy (and perhaps too immature) to take her to the vet; besides, we literally couldn't afford veterinary medicine.

This time, we intend within a few days to take Frisker to the vet to receive the sedative that will kill her. I cry as I write this.

She's not really my cat; she bonded with my partner and mostly tolerated me. But we have a relationship. She wakes me up to demand food. She gives me stern looks if I might be about to intrude on her space or dignity. If I sit in the right place, she has chosen late in life to sit on my lap and receive respectful patting.

I've gotten closer than most. There are people who've called her "psycho-kitty" -- she's been known to bite the unwary. Even at death's door, she has never allowed a vet tech to take a rectal temperature. She emits a terrible low leonine growl at very approach of a doctor. No one messes with her without protest.

I will miss her horribly.


Damon said...

I'm sorry to hear about your cat. It's tough to lose a pet that you love. I lost my running partner, a dog, last fall very unexpectedly. In some ways, despite the shock of his sudden demise, it was a blessing. He was fine in the afternoon and gone in the evening. We had to mourn his death, but we didn't have to anticipate it, dread it, or watch him go downhill. We didn't have to make a very tough decision.

I have no sage advice. I can only offer empathy from someone who has been there.

Rain said...

Sorry to read this. I lost my 'buddy' cat two years ago. She just died but we did know she was failing. We didn't put her down because she didn't seem to be suffering. That's my philosophy on it. If they are suffering, then it's to the vet for the mercy shot. If they continue to eat and get around but are just shriveling, we let them go through the process until we see a sign of misery. Stomach tumors though would probably qualify. I hope you get a new pet when you can as they are a great comfort, so many need homes, but it does always face that problem of whether they die first or we do. Neither is a good thought.

Betty Johanna said...

I'm so sorry. We've lost cats to old age/system failure/humane euthanasia and two to cars. It’s never easy. What I’ve learned over the years is that cats do let you know when they’re ready to go. The difficult part is in the listening and hearing.

When I go, I want to go with the remains of my cats. (We have quite a collection of urns in our dining room hutch.) Specifically how is yet to be determined.

(Please: I don’t need to hear from people who insist that the only proper way to be a cat guardian is to keep them indoors all the time.)

Betty Johanna (again) said...

P.S. Years ago, at the time we were debating about putting down a senior/systems failing/wasting away cat, a vet who worked with an animal rescue group commented that euthanasia was one of the few ways that pets were treated better than humans. This was way before right to die laws were enacted. To this day, we regret that it took us so long to make that difficult decision. It wasn’t fair to him – to keep him around just because we didn’t know how to say goodbye.

With all our cats that have been euthanized, we add a remembrance before the body is sent to be cremated. Pasta shells for the cat who liked pasta, lavender for the cat who hung out in the lavender beds, a favorite blanket for another.

Ronni Gilboa said...

Friskers is the Ultimate Cat soul, mutually earned respect, selective moments of needing and giving comfort. I suspect you wouldn't have it any other way. Ronni

Jane R said...

Oh, I am so sorry. I haven't been reading blogs but was thinking of you (coming your way soon) and popped by and saw this. I went through this with Alyosha of blessed memory when I was still living in the Bay Area. Very difficult and sad. Sending you both a big hug.

sfmike said...

Good luck for the next couple of months. This is tougher than most people understand.

Sandra de Helen said...

Jan, I'm so sorry you and your partner are facing this loss. I've been there. I wish we could offer euthanasia to humans and am glad I live in a state with the right to die law. That does not mean it is an easy decision. My heart goes out to you. Much love to you, Frisker and your partner.

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