Registered: 1513967284 Posts: 1
A week ago, I put my 17 year old cat Tush down, and ever since then I've been counting all the ways I should have done things differently. She had both hyperthyroidism and was in the end stages of chronic kidney disease, so the vet had told me she would be lucky to survive through the rest of summer, but I was hopeful that she would prove the vet wrong because she just kept fighting. She stopped eating her renal diet and dropped below 2kg, so we switched back to foods she enjoyed and gave her phosphate binders instead. I don't think it was enough.
A few weeks ago she started developing weakness in her legs. I rang the vet and was told it was probably just arthritis, so I let it go. It got worse and worse at a speed I didn't think was right, and a week and a half later I took her in to see the vet for fluids and got her examined at the same time. I thought at that point she might have had too much phosphorus in her system because she was twitching a lot at night and maybe the phosphate binders weren't as effective. I don't know what else I could have done differently there, because our choices were either she had the phosphate binders or she didn't eat at all. But I let the issue go on too long. But the vet examined her and found sore spots along her back and legs, told us that it was likely arthritis, or muscle degeneration from kidney disease, or referred pain from the kidneys, and started her on a course of injections in an attempt to rebuild cartilage. Directly after she came back from the vet she developed a waddle and was only moving her back legs if she absolutely had to. I let it go. I thought "Well, the vet said it was this, and the injections will take time to work." By the next day, she was having such difficulty moving, her attempts to get comfortable on one of her usual sleeping spots resulted in a bad fall, and she whined when I tried to pick her up. By this time, she was too sore to use the litter trays but she was still determinedly waddling into the laundry to at least piddle on the tiles, so we gave her as much help as we could. But we didn't take it further at that point, and we should have. The next day she stopped moving altogether, laying on her bed exactly the way I put her there, and our concern ratcheted up quite a lot. But we still didn't do anything, because I was warily thinking, "She's sore, she only just had the injection, she took a bad fall... she's just bruised." She still had her appetite-- we had to handfeed her, but she was snatching pieces of chicken with great enthusiasm, so we took that as a sign it would be okay. And it wasn't. She spent the evening curled up in my arms and didn't move for an hour, only to try to get down on her own, which we thought was a great sign-- until she lost control of her bladder a moment later. She was trying so hard to get back to the laundry and she couldn't. I took her down to the laundry and cleaned her up and she tried so hard to get her feet under her and couldn't, and that's when I finally realised it couldn't be waited out and we took her to the emergency vet. I still thought they could fix whatever the problem was, but I knew the outcome could be final. They whisked her away and brought her back out to us with a catheter inserted and told us her body heat was dropping to dangerous levels and her legs were so swollen. How did I miss that? The vet just kind of shrugged and said they didn't know what was causing it, told me literally there was nothing they could really do because they didn't know what the problem was, but she was obviously suffering a lot so maybe I should make the call. And the way she was staring into space and her temperature dropping, I was sure she wouldn't have survived the night if I'd taken her home. And I did make that call. I held her in my arms as they put her down, and I couldn't tell the difference between her life and death at that point, so I think she was mostly gone already. And I've spent the entire week going over all the cues I missed and all the points I could maybe have saved her. My housemate tries to tell me hindsight is 20/20 and I did all I could, but I saw all these issues and I let the "oh, it's probably just arthritis" line cloud my judgment. She filled with fluid and collapsed and died, and I could have gotten her help earlier, or I could have stopped her climbing somewhere she could fall, or I could have paid attention to my own eyes when she just stopped moving instead of convincing myself she'd be okay. And I could have fought for her at the emergency vet, when they didn't do anything except bring her out with a catheter already inserted and do the equivalent of shrug and say "no clue". I love her so much and I absolutely failed in this one last week, after trying so hard to right all her other complications and letting my guard down. And I'm so sorry. She deserved better. I'm not even sure why I'm writing now but I can't sleep and I keep thinking about this, so... I guess this is a confession. I know I loved her and I didn't intentionally mess up, but intent isn't magical. I don't... really know what I want from this site. Maybe just to tell this story. I'm so sorry, baby. This isn't a case where I can "do better next time". I'm so, so sorry.
Registered: 1512692286 Posts: 67
Totaly get where you are coming from.
My girl passed two weeks ago. Talk about my lack of doing enough and others say that 15.5 years was a long life and that it was long enough blah, blah, blah. Who the hell are they to say how long my dog should have lived? In my case, I did not give her a chance to fight anything. I did not want to see her in any more pain than I did that morning. I pulled the trigger too soon. I know that I did.
Registered: 1499180602 Posts: 42
I am very sorry for your loss. YOU DID NOT FAIL YOUR CAT. Look at all the things you tried. You did your best. You are only human. 17 is a great age.
I recently had my cat PTS, she was 16 with hyperthyroidism, we didn't realise she had it, always whinging for food, being hyper, getting skinny ... we thought she was old and a bit senile! As for being pesterly, she was like that all her life, always wanting attention, very chatty, playful, intelligent to the point of being neurotic!... we thought she was getting a bit thin because she was getting old. We had successfully treated her for B12 deficiency 18 months prior and that was difficult enough for her. Hyperthyroidism is very complicated, there are options: risky surgery, radiation, hospitalisation (my cat would shut down in shock being "exclusive" these were not options for her .... how far can you go in their best interests???) We were treating her with thiamine, there can be side effects, heart problems, the monitoring, the increased dosages, the constant stress of just going to the vets. She would hide away for fear of going? HOW DO THEY REALLY FEEL? physically and mentally? Smudge got complications, she couldn't fight infections, had open wounds and hip problems, got lethargic, would only sleep with me on my pillow (because she felt so poorly?) she would wobble from a cushion on the floor to her tray 3ft away, and flop down exhausted. You were there for your cat, you did what you could. You loved them, they loved you. They passed with you there, not alone uncared for .... your pain is raw now, you are grieving and your mind will be all over the place. None of us would dream of taking our pet off to be PTS in their prime to save them from their future, because we don't know what it is? We just do what we can for as long as we can. Sometimes our blind love can make us irrational, because they are so precious and we just want them FOREVER. Smudge's sister Pip passed in 2004 aged 2 and a half of a heart defect, running about playing in the night and then just gone? There was nothing I could do, no signs to spot, no help to give, I was devastated, angry .... I came here ... 13 years later ....... X
Registered: 1513493992 Posts: 4
Please don't torture yourself. You loved your pet and did the best you could. It is always so easy to look back and think of things that should/could have been done. Hyperthyroidism and kidney disease are common at that age, 2 things my cat suffered from in her golden years. You extended your beloved pets life as best you could in the here and now. It was extra borrowed time you had, and be thankful for that. I too roll around thoughts of what I should have done differently, but I now try to counter with good memories and the realization they don't live forever, as much as we want them to. Please be thankful that they shared a big part of your life, that you gave them a good life and that their memories will always be with you to make you laugh, cry and smile.
Registered: 1514426102 Posts: 5
This is for everyone in this thread, but especially for Tanker 1's reply.
I've struggled since Christmas Day about saying goodbye to our 12 year old Henry (story here: http://www.petlossmessageboard.com/post/for-the-love-of-henry-in-memoriam-9603218?pid=1302715142). It was so fast - he went from healthy with zero outside observable health issues (and yes, I had him to the vet - a lot - he was diabetic, so he got a lot of great care) to gone 9 days later. We had to make the decision to help him pass peacefully when a diagnosis of suspected cancer (never made it to the oncologist's appointment, which was scheduled for Tuesday of this week - set Henry free Monday) with a strong suspicion of metastasis to the brain based on symptoms he showed in the ICU made it obvious to me that he could have a stroke, seizure, aneurysm or something equally as bad. That's the reader's digest version - the full story is at the link above. ANYWAY. A work friend who is not really cat people the way I am reached out to me yesterday and asked how I was doing. I was honest - told him I wasn't doing very well, that I was questioning pretty much everything and regretting the decision I made. His response to me is one that I want you to read and take in: You have to trust your judgement even when things go wrong. If you don't, then you become dragged down by self-doubt and can't trust ANY decision. You obviously loved your animals. You wouldn't make that decision unless some part of you - probably deep down, because your conscious mind couldn't accept what your subconscious already knew - knew that it was the right one. While it's all well and good for me to spout platitudes when all of my pets were healthy and it wasn't something at the front of my mind, I've always said that it's better to go a few days too early than go a few minutes too late. Their care is always in your hands - and you have the power to spare them pain and suffering. You did that. So step back and give yourself as much of break as you can. You made the hardest decision from a loving place. As I told another friend who was facing the loss of her long-time dog Becky, there really are worse things than to just go to sleep peacefully. My Henry just... went to sleep in my arms, after being hugged and kissed and told how much he was loved, and after 4.5 years in my home where every moment of his life he was babied, brushed, snuggled, scratched, cuddled, played with and kissed. I can only hope someone will bestow that gift on me after a life lived and loved, to release me with faith that we will meet again.