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Sara2018

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Posts: 17
 #1 
This past December, I was trying to help a friend find a Maine Coon cat for his wife to adopt. I am opposed to buying kittens from a breeder when there are so many cats and kittens in shelters and rescue organizations who need homes.

So I signed up for alerts from "RescueMe.com" for Maine Coons in a 4 state Midwest area.

In January, there was an alert for a 15 year old that broke my heart. She had been with her owners since she was a kitten. The husband had Alzheimer's and in a memory care facility. Now, the wife had fallen, had broken her hip and would not be able to return to her home and assisted living did not allow pets.

The cats name was Sara. She was breathtakingly beautiful. Both of her parents were champions. But that was not what engaged me in her picture. Yes, she was stunning but there was a sadness. Obviously the photograph had been taken recently while her home was disrupted with an absence of her mom. My heart broke.

Knowing how senior pets are notoriously difficult to place and that time was critical, I offered to take her and provide her a home with love. I didn't know if it would be mine or some friend who didn't already have a pet. Well, no one wanted the "responsibility" of adopting an elder cat so she came to stay.

She was thin when she arrived. The son brought a bag of her food, a package of her favorite treats, a ladder that she loved to perch on to feel the sun, a fleece robe that was scented like her mom to lay on the top shelf of the ladder, and a new cat cushion.

From the first day, she would not eat cat food. She only ate treats and only one kind for one day and then they had to be something different. She didn't want me near her and would growl and hiss at both me and my other cats so I kept her in my office. When I would come home from work, I would clean her box, get her fresh water and more treats. Then I would just sit in the corner of The room whistle reading emails, magazines, Facebook for an hour or so. Finally, she accepted me as no threat. She was losing more weight.

The couple's daughter told me that she probably hadn't been to a veterinarian for at least 5 years. I took her for an exam. They did a full blood panel. Everything was good except she was too thin and not eating. Nothing worked that anyone suggested. Still, new variety of treats only.

I took her to my vet of 30+ years. Cheryl, "she's old", "no one but you would have taken her on."

By now, I had moved her from the office to my bedroom. Her stools were now diherria. I was in love but I could still see the sadness and my heart broke. We cuddled, I brushed her and loved her, showered her with kisses.

I found a new veterinarian who was more concerned and compassionate. Maybe Inflammatory Bowel or Pancreatitis? Or God forbid Lymphoma. Subcutaneous fluids, Cerenia injection, B12. She was a bit better for a day or two. Appetite stimulants. Vomiting and diaherria now. Repeat blood panel. Repeat fluids, Cerenia, steroids, etc three more times plus antibiotic injection. She is now hiding in my closet. Blood panel results unchanged - still good. Each visit, her weight was lower.

Last Friday, back to veterinarian for more of the same. Now my beautiful Sara has lost 6 ounces in 6 days. She has begun to have shivers which I wonder if it pain or cold? This is unsustainable and I know it. My veterinarian says next step is abdominal exploratory surgery. If it is not Lymphoma it is likely another kind of cancer.

Sara is in my arms with her head hiding in my elbow. She has curled into a circle in my arms. I know that she doesn't want to have the fluids and injections again. I ask my veterinarian what she would do. The exploratory surgery, subsequent hospitalization, IV's and possible feeding tube is a horrible image. My veterinarian says that cats do not respond well to chemotherapy. Dogs do but not cats. I have previous experience with pancreatic cancer in my George (cat) with a bad outcome. I regret putting him through that.

I made the decision then to euthanize her. I'm afraid that I made the wrong decision. Maybe I should have waited. She was still jumping on the bed for love. She was not listless but I knew she had much discomfort. Should I have given her that last opportunity at health?

I am as heartbroken as if I had had her her entire 15 years. We bonded in our 5 months. I regret my decision and there of course is no remedy.

I am not coping. I am filled with sadness and remorse for my Sara. I let her down. She lived 15 years in her former home and I couldn't provide her with even 6 months of health and happiness.

An acquaintance said "you loved her and saved her from the worst day of her life". I wish that felt like enough. It doesn't. I am inconsolable.
goofygirlinva

Registered:
Posts: 1,191
 #2 
I am so very sorry you have had to make this horrible decision. Please do not second guess yourself. You made the decision out of love and compassion for Sara. You did not want her to suffer anymore, and you are not a vet or a fortune teller that can see into the future. You made your decision based on the information you had at the time. It was a very difficult one, but you did it based on what was in your heart and your desire to give her the best life you could. You knew she was not happy with the fluids & injections and you knew what she would go through if she would have had surgery or chemo. Neither was a good option, so you did what you had to do at the time, and now you are left to go on without Sara in your life...

Your friend was absolutely right - you loved Sara and did your very best to give her more time and love. She would not have had that if you had not opened your heart and home to this beautiful, precious girl. It may not mean much right now, but it eventually will and hopefully you will find some peace and comfort knowing that Sara knew love after her world was turned upside down and the people she knew were no longer around and/or able to care for her. That means a lot, and thank you so much for caring for her when probably nobody else would.

If it helps, I understand what you are going through. When my Squeeker passed away, I adopted a 20 year old orange tabby named Thomas. His person had passed away and he was scheduled to be euthanized if his person's family could not find another home for him. So I took him in. He is still with me, but he is 21 years old and even though I know he loves me, he is not terribly happy because he does not get along at all with one of my other cats. They have constant battles, and I worry about leaving them together while I am at work during the day. So I worry about Thomas' quality of life and I know there will be a time when I will probably have to make the decision you did and have him humanely PTS. I dread that day because Thomas is such a sweet boy but I know his life with me is not nearly the kind of life he had with his previous person, the one that knew him from a kitten to old age. And that makes me sad. But like you, I do my best out of love and hope that Thomas knows he is loved. I am certain Sara knew she was loved by you, so hopefully one day down the road this will help bring you some comfort when you think back on the short time you and Sara had together...

Hugs and peace to you...

- Kelly
Angel Blackie's mom
Angel Squeeker's mom
Sara2018

Registered:
Posts: 17
 #3 
Kelly, thank you so much for your comforting reply.

You are in the unique position to understand precisely because of Thomas. Thank you for your compassion for him.

I have other cats as well. That is why Sara had the run of my bedroom but not the remainder of the house. She was terrified of them because she came from a single cat home. I don't know if that was the right decision either.

I miss her so much. I am broken but better after reading you kind post.

Blessings to you and Thomas.
Sara2018

Registered:
Posts: 17
 #4 
Angel Squeeker's Mom.

Just love 💘 Thomas as long as possible.
goofygirlinva

Registered:
Posts: 1,191
 #5 
It is so hard to bring a senior cat into your home, especially when the house already has cats. The seniors probably knew just one way of life, one family to care for them, and now they are faced with a new place, a new person, new sounds and new smells to cope with. It is so stressful, not only for us but for them. Some react differently - some adjust beautifully to their new surroundings while others do not, with the result often being stress-related illness that can be difficult to successfully resolve.

When I adopted Thomas, I knew he had previously lived with two other cats and had gotten along well with them. So I was surprised that he did not react well at all to my two black boys. However, Thomas, who is an orange and white short haired tabby, has warmed up to my other boy, a gorgeous orange and white long haired beauty named Little Red. Red has a beautiful serene, calm presence and he and Thomas often snuggle together and groom each other, which is so wonderful and heartwarming to see. Thomas will occasionally get along with Rufus, my black Manx. But Thomas and my other black beauty, Bud, absolutely hate each other. This is surprising to me because Bud, who I adopted as a kitten, seemed to immediately love being around all of the cats I've had. But there is something about Thomas that Bud does not like at all and vice versa with Thomas not liking bud.

So I do what I can to keep those two apart from each other without restricting access to the full house. And I do what I can to give each cat as much attention and love as I can. I do my best to let them all know they are loved and cherished. And because I love them so much, I know that a day will come when each will leave me and my house will be emptier and my heart will be broken. As you and I know, that heartache is the price we pay for letting these amazing creatures into our lives and our hearts. It does not matter if they have been with us for years or months. Once they have captured our hearts, there is no going back, and unfortunately the heartache we experience when they leave us is so incredibly painful and difficult to cope with, especially in the first days, weeks and months. 

I grew up with cats but did not have any as an adult for a long time because my work and other obligations just wouldn't allow having a pet. But then I heard about a senior kitty that was a stray that had been taken to the local Humane Society, and that was all it took for me to get back into the land of having a pet. That cat was Blackie and he was an amazing, beautiful senior black boy. We were only together for about 2 1/2 years before he passed away from what was most likely complications from his kidney disease. And like you, I was completely broken and desolate for at least a year. People probably thought I was nuts for grieving so long and so hard for a cat, much less a cat I hadn't even known for 3 years. But he was so very special to me, just like Sara was to you, and it did not matter how long we knew each other. He was my boy and I loved him and he loved me. 

It has been over 10 years since Blackie died. But I still miss him, and I will always love him no matter how much time passes. I suspect the same will be true with you and Sara. There was just something about her that touched your heart and made you fall in love with her, and from what you've written she will always have a special place in your heart, regardless of how long you knew each other and how much time passes.

Do you have a picture of Sara that you could post? I would love to see what she looks like...

Hugs,

- Kelly
Angel Blackie's mom
Angel Squeeker's mom
Sara2018

Registered:
Posts: 17
 #6 
Good Morning Kelly.

I have been trying without success to post a picture of my dear Sara.

Another agonizing morning without Sara. Each morning, I wake to the reality that she is gone because I chose to not pursue other options and it tears my heart out.

I have 3 other cats and I love them. Somehow that does not being me consolation. Sara is gone.

To wake to her beautiful face, stroke her fur, hear her purr, see how she would do that delightful face when just the tip of her tongue showed between her teeth, watch her lay in that unique position - legs outstretched in front and back - splayed by my pillow, touch those extraordinary white tufted hands and hold them in mine, all those sensations never to be felt again. It is pure agony.

Friends assure me that I "did the right thing", "made the right decision for her", "she is in a better place" but that brings no consolation either. I am inconsolable. They don't understand my anxiety and heartbreak. She is my heart.

Thank you again for sharing your story of love for Blackie and Squeeker. It helps to know that someone relates. But I am sorry for that shared painful experience of loss.

Cheryl
Sara's Surrogate Mom
brenrae

Registered:
Posts: 4,781
 #7 
Cheryl, I know it was a hard decision for you, and one you did out of love and compassion for your Sara. Right now you are on this terrible journey called grief, and I know it is a long and rocky road. Come here as often as you need to, for the people here know how it feels to lose a loved one. We will try to help you, though I know it is a journey travelled alone. The one thing to remember is that you were blessed, for you was the one that got to know Sara, and how sweet she is. You may of been her second mom, but, you gave her all the love you had in your heart in those months you had her, and she loved you also with all her heart. You took a scared and confused cat into your home, and you gave her stability and love.    
Sara2018

Registered:
Posts: 17
 #8 
Thank you Brenrae.

I'm afraid that I will always think that the decision was premature. The remorse is heartbreaking along with her absence. I loved her so much yet had her with me for such a short period.

I am so touched by your letters to Harry. Thank you for sharing those too.
goofygirlinva

Registered:
Posts: 1,191
 #9 
Hi Cheryl,
I just saw the picture you posted of Sara in your profile. What a beauty she is! Such gorgeous colors and such expressive eyes - no wonder you fell in love with her! You can tell by the picture that she loved you too. There is just something about cats' eyes that touch our hearts, isn't there? Especially when those eyes are looking at the person they clearly love...

Hope you are doing better today

Hugs,

- Kelly
Angel Squeeker's mom
Angel Blackie's mom

Sara2018

Registered:
Posts: 17
 #10 
Hi Kelly,

Thank you for finding Sara as beautiful as I do. I picked up her ashes yesterday which was both challenging and comforting.

I know that it will slowly get easier, but the grief comes in waves.
T
Thank you again for your letters to Harry.

Cheryl
Sara2018

Registered:
Posts: 17
 #11 
It has now been 5 weeks since I made the decision to euthanize my beautiful Sara.
I cry every day. I cry for the loss of her, I cry because I rethink every tiny decision, I cry because the biggest decision I listened to others instead of my instinct.
What if there was a solution that I didn't find because I didn't go to a 48th veterinarian or allow the last one to do exploratory abdominal surgery? What if the surgery showed it was IBD and not Lymphoma or some other cancer as she presumed?
I miss her and love 💘 her.
I am riddled with guilt for the final decision.
I love you Sara O'Hara. Like no other ever.

pb313

Registered:
Posts: 104
 #12 
Sara,
I am so very sorry for you loss. The decision is so, so hard. But you have a heart full of compassion or you never would have taken her in inthe first place. Please know you have a safe place to grieve here.
May you find peace.

Paula - Raider’s mom
Sara2018

Registered:
Posts: 17
 #13 
Dear Raider's Mom,
Thank you for your kind words but honestly, the sadness, guilt and profound remorse is nearly unbearable.
I have had many cats over the years. I am 64 now. I have felt conflicted before, "should I have permitted the risky surgery instead of the experimental chemo for the pancreatic cancer" or "should I have not permitted the surgery for last cell carcinoma when it reoccured" or "should I have euthanized him sooner when he was in kidney failure" but NEVER felt this kind of remorse.
I believe that I did not listen to Sara or to my inner voice. I was too afraid that I was wrong and listened to the veterinarian and friends. Everyone was saying Lymphoma or another cancer.
I thought, and still think, that it was IBD from stress.
Now I read about CBS oil, etc.
I have always tried everything for my kitties that I love so much.
And with Sara O'Hara, I didn't opt for the exploratory surgery, I didn't try CBD, I gave in.g
Oh Sara, I miss you so much and grieve deeply and daily.
How could I have made such a disastrous decision?
Rest in peace my love.


Loudpurring

Registered:
Posts: 774
 #14 
You did the right thing. She wouldn’t have survived surgery. You would have been selfish to make her endure more. Forgive yourself. There is no place to lay blame. Bad things happen to good animals for absolutely no reason at all.
Sara2018

Registered:
Posts: 17
 #15 
Dear Loudpurring,
No words except thank you
Sara's Mom
rnj79

Registered:
Posts: 13
 #16 
Sara2018, Aside from the silence of their absence, that "what ifs" are the most horrible. I beat myself up constantly about what I could have done differently. In the end, Abby knew we loved her. The last words she heard from me where "I love you, Abby."

You loved Sara. And you loved her enough to not wait too long.
Thinking of you today <3

~RNJ79
Sara2018

Registered:
Posts: 17
 #17 
Thank you. You are of course on target. The what it's are the worst.
Your Abby was a lucky companion to be so loved. And Sara was as well.
Thinking of you too.
Sara's Mom
CAS

Registered:
Posts: 1
 #18 
I am so sorry for your loss. I put down my beloved French Bulldog Oliver yesterday. He did not have cancer but severe IBD. We tried for over a year and half to fight it. In the end he was suffering too much. He was on 13 toxic medications, had 2 stem cell operations, holistic trys and 4 different vet specialists. I question my decision constantly. Just know even if was IBD - it is a hideous disease that can take an animal's joy. I question constantly my decision since it was not cancer. Just know you are not alone and we all question. I am sorry
Sara2018

Registered:
Posts: 17
 #19 
Your loss of Oliver is heartbreaking I know and I am so so sorry. He knew how much he was loved and you tried everything.....absolutely.
I wish that I had some brilliance to console you but I am still searching myself as you are aware.
One thing that I do know is that that they knew how much they were loved and that we made our decision based on the best information that we had at that time but mostly on that love.
I wish you peace.
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