Sunday, February 27, 2011

Saying Goodbye To A Friend

It has taken me a little while to be able to write about my Catboy and his passing.  I first wrote about him here in my original blog, Deedee, Cut Adrift! way back in the beginning of 2009.   Then I did another post last April that you may have seen here, revealing my thoughts during his old age and decline. 
He'd developed diabetes and we were treating him by giving twice daily shots of insulin and trying (with little success) to control his eating.
Last summer was difficult for Catboy, and maybe even harder for me as I struggled to deal with his advancing age and illness.  He stopped using his litter box and had started urinating in various places around our apartment.  For weeks, I tried every suggestion and trick to stop this nasty behavior (I finally got some improvement when, on the advice of the vet, I purchased one of those four foot long, two foot wide, four inch high, under-the-bed storage container thingies and filled it with the world's most expensive cat litter), but I couldn't stop him from eating everything he could get his teeth into, including Ceecee's food, and Rigby's dog food as well.  This did nothing to help with his diabetes, as he was supposed to be on a strict diet and I felt like a failure as a caretaker for him, because I just could not control his intake.

Then one night, he had a seizure.  He was lying near my feet in the living room, seemingly at peace, when he suddenly bolted up and took on a very strange looking pose.  An unearthly sound suddenly emanated from him, sending a chill through me.  Within seconds, he was convulsing, rolling and scrabbling across the carpet, his lips draw back in a grimace.  I ran to the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of corn syrup and a syringe.  When he stopped convulsing and was still enough for me to open his mouth, I shot some of the sticky liquid down his throat as I had been instructed by the vet.  At about that point I noticed that he had lost control of his bowels and there was a trail of excrement laced across the carpet.  I felt this was really the beginning of the end for him.

Then came the autumn morning when I noticed him walking crookedly across the kitchen floor, his lopsided gait drawing my eye as I prepared his breakfast.  I studied him as he ate his food and then curled up under the kitchen table, seemingly okay for time being.  With some misgivings, I gave him his insulin, and then my husband and I left him and headed for work.  My son (who works the night shift), went to bed for the day.  Late that day I got a call from my son just as I was about to head home from the office.  Upon rising for the evening, he had gone into the kitchen and found Catboy under the table in a pool of his own waste, barely breathing.  I told him I would meet them at the vet's office, and sped off.

I was escorted into the depths of the animal hospital upon my arrival, and found my kitty lying on an examing table wrapped in several white towels, attached to an intravenous drip, his little pink tongue lolling out of his mouth, his eyes partially open.  The nurse attending him was sure he was not conscious of us.  It had been determined that this episode had nothing to do with his diabetes, as his blood sugar levels were good, and his current state was probably the result of something neurological in nature. 

I started to cry when I saw him like that because he looked so helpless.  I knew right away the decision I had to make.  He was old.  He had diabetes, and now this.  I could see there would be no more quality life for him.  I don't see any value in artificially prolonging life; it makes no sense.  And yet... I still hesitated.
Was it my decision to make?  I have been in this situation before with my dog Gretchen, and I don't like playing God. 

The vet was talking about a 24 hour care facility we could take Catboy to, where they would monitor him overnight.  I stared down at him and stroked his head.  I was acutely aware of all the ways my life would suddenly be easier if I no longer had to clean up urine and prepare insulin syringes twice a day, and that realization wracked me with guilt.  I wanted to do what was best for him-could I trust myself to think only of his best interest and not my own?  The responsibility was weighing too heavily upon me; I'd been alone when I made this decision for Gretchie and here I was again - I had a family who should share this burden.  I took my cell phone out and dialed Mac who was working in a basement a few towns away.  He said he felt the time had come and we should help him go.  It would be the best thing for all concerned, and yes, the best thing for Catboy.  With a torrent of fresh tears and deep sorrow, I asked the vet to euthanize my little pal.  I held him as she administered the injection.

This is without question, the hardest part of being a pet owner, but many times it is a necessary thing.  I had a friend once who owned several dogs and I had watched two of them a few years apart suffer terribly as they died slowly over the course of weeks, lying in the same spot, crying and in obvious pain, because the owner could not bring herself to euthanize them.  It was a terrible thing to see, and I swore I would never let an animal suffer like that.  But, making the decision to help a pet pass on will never be easy for me.  Rest in peace, my little buddy.


  1. so sorry for your loss, Deedee. my last pet was a cat and he too developed diabetes. it was hard to see him so sick and so dependent on medication. it sounds like you gave your cat a wonderful life and, in the end, made the best decision for him. you're right - a necessary thing.

  2. I've been there too and had to take that decision. I have to say that although the tears flowed I had no hesitation and BP died in my arms as the vet put him to sleep. We have the advantage, Deedee, that we can take those decisions and prevent unnecessary suffering for our pets. For what my opinion is worth I think you absolutely did the right think for Catboy.

  3. I know exactly how you feel, having lost well loved dogs and horses too. I went through the whole guilt trip as well but felt better after a friend said that we are privileged to be able to make this decision to end suffering. If our pets were wild, they would have been picked off by predators in violent deaths. You did the right thing.

  4. Oh Deedee, I know exactly how you feel, I've lost two elderly cats and had to make that decision. Cats are such proud animals and its unfair not to choose for them. I have young cats at the moment, but their time will come, and I'll be there again. Hugs.

  5. Oh how heartbreaking! It is the dark side of owning a pet - been there a few times myself and it never gets easier, never. 3 summers ago I had to put down my 6 yr old lab - the world's most perfect dog we called her - due to inoperable cancers - she'd had two surgeries already. I wailed for days. I even had little Mondo at the time (he was 2) and I'll tell ya, Mondo grieved too. Until LAST month, we had company over and he did NOT hid behind the couch, but greeted them along with our puppy LucyLu - who, altho she is a Morkie, not lab, has obviously replaced Missy at last for Mondo. Call me crazy potty training in winter with a 10lb dog you hafta shovel for - it's all worth it in the end!
    Sending hugs

  6. I just happened to be checking out your blog to see how things were going at the house and am very saddened by your news. If I am reading this right, this just happened yesterday?
    Your little Catboy was lucky to have you both as owners. I'm certain he had a great life....Just wanted you to know that I am thinking of you both. Susan Morrison

  7. To Susan M., Thanks for stopping by. He actually died early last fall, but I just hadn't been able to write about it until now. Things are in full swing at the house- the plumber is there now for the half-bath we are adding, and then then electrician will be next. It's getting exciting!

  8. Chris, Jc, Suzen B., GB and Eliza, Thank you all for your kind words. It does make it an easier burden to bear knowing that all of you have stood in my shoes, having had to make the same difficult decision. Glad to have your encouragement, as always. <3