Friday, September 11, 2015

Rest in Peace Sweet Princess Kitty

A few days ago I made the very hard decision to have my sweet little Princess put to sleep.

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 then came the next surprise. There had been numerous stray and/or feral cats in the neighborhood that had tested positive for FIV or FELV, and we thought the chances that she was infected were probably quite high. But since I was already pretty attached, I was making plans to keep her separated from my other cats. But miraculously she tested negative.

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.
And after another 6 weeks she went back to the vet and received a clean bill of health!

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.


  1. I'm so sorry, Cat. I know you are grieving this loss.

  2. Aww, I'm sorry Cat. It's so hard to say goodbye to our kitty friends. She was such a sweetheart!

  3. What a difficult time for you. The two of you gave so much to each other.

  4. So sorry to hear about your kitty! It's always hard to put down a pet. It looks like you gave her so much, though.

  5. Aw, that's a lovely story. You did so much for your beautiful Princess. May she rest in peace. Big hugs to you xxx

  6. I'm shedding a few tears for you and Princess. What a beautiful gift you two were for each other. Oh, having pets is hard but they're worth it.

  7. So sorry for your loss. Sadly I know how hard it is. But what a sweet, beautiful kitty and you took such good care of her. Thinking of you both.

  8. Cat, I am so sorry, I know how special Princess was to you. Your story has me now trying to type this while tears fill my eyes. It's so hard to say goodbye to those we love so much.

  9. I'm so sorry. :( What a sweet cat, I'm glad you got to spend that time with her, and I'm glad she's lying next to Sputty.


  10. What a darling cat, who must have had a blissful life in your care. Wishing you warm and happy memories of her.
    [I'm a very new reader of your blog]
    Valerie, NZ

  11. So sorry to hear about your sweet Princess. And what a beautiful story. I had to say goodbye to my girl last November. She, too, had suffered from kidney problems, then had an abscessed tooth that ended up likely being oral cancer. I took a week where I spent most of my time with her before I had to let her go. Again, I'm so sorry for your loss.

  12. Here on the other side of the world I can feel your pain. About two months ago I had to make the same decision with my beautiful friend, Cheeky. Just like Princess he had lived in our garden before "moving in", then he was with us for 15 years, the last two of which he had many health problems.It's so very sad to say goodbye. Princess was beautiful. Treasure your memories.
    Dianne (Australia)

  13. I'm so sorry for your loss, Cat. It's always a difficult time. Take care.

  14. So sad for you, so happy for her wonderful life with you. x

  15. Thank you all so very much for your kind words and supportive comments. I feel a bit as if my little world has been turned upside down and I'm still trying to adjust. Plus, I've got major appliances biting the dust on me, and aging parents in need of help... yadda, yadda, yadda. I sure do miss my sweet little girl, and I'm starting to cry again just writing this.

    Heavy sigh. Things will get better. Hey, my Broncos pulled out a miracle win tonight so things are lookin' up!

    Big hugs everybody, I hope to be back soon.

  16. I'm so sorry to hear that Princess passed. She sounds like a wonderful cat.

  17. Oh, I'm so sorry. Your post made me cry because you have such a big heart and you are such a wonderful mama to your sweet babies. I can see why you fell in love with Princess -- what a sweet face, and a wonderful girl. My heart aches with yours, but I love what you wrote here in tribute to her. xo

  18. I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful Princess. My Lucy went to the bridge the same day- I hope they keep each other company until we are reunited with them. XO

  19. Thanks so much guys - I really appreciate all your supportive comments.

  20. What a sad but beautiful story :( I am so sorry for your loss Cat.

  21. I know I'm late, but I am so, so sorry about Princess. Thank you for taking her in and giving her such a great life. Saving them feels so good, and losing them hurts so much, but it's worth it.

  22. Thanks guys for the nice comments. I would have responded to each one individually, but honestly, it just makes me too sad. But know that your kind words mean so very much to me.


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