I say that the decision was hard, because it's never easy to lose a creature as precious as she was, but when the time came she was in obvious pain so the decision to end her suffering was actually rather easy.
She had been doing fantastically well up until a few days ago when she took a sudden and severe turn for the worse. I thought her bad teeth had finally caught up with her, but the vet said it looked and acted a lot more like oral cancer. Given everything else that she was battling, and the fact that she was in severe pain that wasn't responding to either pain meds or antibiotics, I opted not to put her through a biopsy.
So instead, we pumped her full of morphine, and I got to spend a few last precious minutes with my little sweetheart before saying goodbye. Heavy, heavy sigh.
I've told Princess' story before, but just in case you've missed it...
It was a little less than five years ago when I was outside working in the yard and my neighbor came over to ask me if I knew that there was a cat living under my big pine tree. At first I didn't believe her, because surely I would have seen a cat hanging around. But I got down on my hands and knees and sure enough, there was Princess curled up in a nest of pine needles.
She looks huge in this photo, but that's because she was covered from head to toe in horrible mats.
It took 6 months over a long cold winter to get her to trust me. I worried endlessly about her and spent untold hours building various sorts of kitty houses for her and crawling under the tree to be sure she was OK. I even rigged a house with a heating pad to help her through the nights that got down to 20 below zero.
Then sometime in March she started playing a little game where she would dart past me... sorta like she was daring herself to get a little bit closer. So one day as she darted past me, I decided to stick out my hand and see if I could just brush her fur as she went past.
Well, as soon as I touched her she whipped her head around. At first I thought she might attack me, but instead, she climbed into my lap and started purring. It was as if a little switch had flipped and some long lost memories of being a coddled lap kitty came roaring back. From that point on, there was no way I was letting her stay out under that tree anymore, so little Princess got to come inside.
We went through some rough times the first few months after she came inside, but she surprised everyone over and over and over.
The first surprise came when I took her to the vet the day after I brought her inside. She had mats several inches thick over her entire body and the vet said they'd have to put her under to shave her. But there was one particularly big one on her chest that was really bothering her, so I asked the vet if they could just try to remove that one. A few minutes later I started hearing sounds of incredulity coming from the vet techs. "OMG! She's purring, she's kneading!"
Sweet little Princess, a cat who, a few days earlier wouldn't let anyone even come close enough to touch her, was letting complete strangers shave her entire body!
|Princess sporting her shaved look|
So I brought her inside and set her up in a private suite in the basement so she could adjust. But a day or two later she suffered a grand mal seizure, and I thought she was gonna die. I rushed her to the vet but they couldn't find anything obviously wrong. At the time we thought perhaps it was a reaction to the vaccines, but I'm now pretty sure it was because she had undiagnosed high blood pressure. I think the stress of the situation combined with her already high bp just pushed her into the seizure.
At that point my hopes for her were not high. I kept expecting her to have more seizures, but instead she settled in and decided that being indoors was OK. I kept her in isolation for another 6 weeks to be sure that she wasn't carrying anything that could be a risk to my other cats, and to let her adjust in peace. She didn't want to be far from my lap, so I wore a big old bathrobe when I was with her to make sure I didn't inadvertently infect the other cats by something on her fur.
|Princess in my bathrobed lap shortly after she came inside.|
It didn't take long for her to adjust to her new home and she quickly staked out her territory under the desk. So I set up her heating pad and a kitty bed under there and she was in hog heaven.
She even learned to get along with her brothers. The boys she tolerated, though they were a bit rambunctious for her taste, but Sputty protected her and the two of them became quite close.
About a year ago I started noticing that she had really bad breath, so I brought her in to have her teeth looked at. Her teeth were indeed bad so we made plans to have them taken out. But the pre-surgery blood work revealed that she had advanced kidney disease.
The vet didn't think she'd make it very long given her numbers, so we put aside any concerns about her teeth and started her on fluid therapy.
At first she was terrified by getting fluids, but I soon realized that what really scared her was not so much the fluids, but the whole process of locking her in the bathroom so she couldn't run away etc. So one day I got the crazy idea to try giving her fluids while she was in my lap. I brought out her favorite roast chicken treats and miraculously she just sat there chowing down her treats and didn't even seem to notice the needle!
It soon became a ritual for us. I'd get the fluids set up and she'd happily jump into my lap and purr her way through the entire process.
But then, in April of this year she took a sudden downturn. I rushed her to the vet and he determined that she was in congestive heart failure and had extreme high blood pressure. He said the chances of her pulling through were minimal, but somehow I just didn't have the feeling that Princess was ready to go quite yet. So we put her on diuretics and blood pressure medicine and miraculously she came out of it.
After that we cut her fluids down to a few times per week, and she did amazingly well. In fact, it seemed like once her blood pressure was under control, she became happier and more active than ever. One morning I got up and couldn't find her in any of her regular spots. I started to panic and went hunting for her all over the house. Turned out she'd gone down to the basement and climbed to the top of the garden level kitty tree to enjoy the sunbeam.
It almost sounds crazy, but I really think the last few months of her life were the happiest, and in an odd ironic way, the healthiest!
I am so very sad that my sweet little baby had to move on, but I am forever grateful for the time we got to spend together, and for the fact that she let me love her. She was a true gift, and it was an honor and a privilege to get to care for her.
I buried her next to Sputty, and it gives me some comfort to think of the two of them together again somehow, somewhere.
Rest in peace my sweet baby girl.