Saturday, January 12, 2008

Its Fun To Write

I really do enjoy it, but recently the things I’m writing about aren’t that enjoyable. Even writing about bad things, like losing a pet, while they aren’t really enjoyable, it can still be very helpful to write about them.

As I said yesterday, I had Sadie for about 8 years. I really wasn’t looking for a pet at the time. Sadie was a stray and my neighbor across the alley at my old house had started feeding her. He talked me in to taking her in and I was really reluctant. I just didn’t want the responsibility of owning a pet. She was a real people-cat from the start. Very trusting and had no problems approaching people so long as they didn’t make any sudden moves or noises.

When we moved in to The Petch House Sadie hung out on the front porch a lot. The first couple of years I lived here, there was an elderly woman who frequently walked by my house on her way to the store. She would always stop out front and Sadie would trot down the front walk to her. If I was inside I would her the woman call to Sadie as she came towards her. “There’s my girl! Aren’t you a pretty kitty. Oh, you’re so friendly”. I think the woman thought she had some special relationship with Sadie, but really, that is just the way Sadie was with anyone she thought would pet her for 2 seconds.

I’m not sure when her liver began to fail, but I noticed something on Monday. She just wasn’t herself. Both of my cats were strays and still spent a lot of times outdoors. Who knows what the hell they do all day, but you get the feeling that on rare occasions they eat a spider that doesn’t agree with them and there just not themselves for a few days. I will only take them to the vet for serious things, and in the all of the time I’ve owned both of them, Sadie’s been to the vet once and Mort twice.

On Tuesday after work I noticed Sadie seemed to have lost a little weight. Both cats eat out of the same dish, and Mort eats 75% of the food to start with, so it wasn’t immediately apparent that she wasn’t eating. I feed them dry food 95% of the time so canned food is a rare treat. When I do open a can they both act like crack addicts who’ve been jonesing for a few days. They just go crazy for it and pretty much inhale anything I put down for them.

On Wednesday I stopped at the store on the way home form work and bought some canned food. Sadie wouldn’t touch it and I had to practically put Mort in restraints to keep him from eating what I had put down for her. I left her in the kitchen with the food and the doors closed over night. Thursday morning, on my way to work, I noticed she had eaten a little bit of it, but not much.

Thursday at lunch I bought some locks. This is an even rarer teat than canned food. I don’t even buy it for myself that often, and when I do, I give a little to the cats. Honestly, I don’t think they even chew it. It goes that quickly. When I got home at lunchtime she had thrown up what little cat food she had managed to get down over-night. I opened the locks and she wouldn’t touch it. This is when I really started to get worried.

I tried to force a small piece in to her mouth and I noticed it looked like she had an infection on her lower lip. She had had her lower canines removed a few years back and I thought maybe she had gotten an infection, but there was no pain. I had checked her the day before for any abscesses, breaks, sprains, or just for any pain or discomfort. She seemed fine, except she seemed a little listless.

I checked her again and really noticed the weight loss this time. She was definitely not eating. For how long I couldn’t say. Sadie has a lot of hair to start with, and now she has on her winter coat, so she still looks plump. I called the vet to see if I could get her in later that day. This is till Thursday at lunch. My normal vet has surgery all day on Thursday, so they referred me to another vet. I called them and they said they could get me in at 4:00.

Throughout all of this Sadie never stopped purring. It was because of this, and my own naivete, that I still wasn’t thinking chronic illness. I can’t stress enough how much Sadie purrs and loves to be held. When I would be working around the house and I would happen to walk in a room and stop within 2-feet for her and look down at her, she would begin to purr because she thinks I’m going to pick her up. This rarely happened, but for eight years, even the mere hint of me picking her up was enough to get her motor running.

At the vets office that day she sat calmly in my lap and purred away as I stroked her. By this time, she is really not doing well at all, but still she purred. When we went in to see the vet, I think he knew the outcome within a few minutes of looking at her. What I thought was a yellow infection on her lip was actually jaundice. He forced open her mouth wide and the whole inside of her mouth was yellow. Sadie was a blonde cat and so she had gold eyes, but when he forced her eyes open wide it was apparent that her eyes were even more yellow than normal.

He gave her a thorough exam, with the exception of listening to her heart, because she wouldn’t stop purring long enough, and discovered what he thought was “fatty liver syndrome”. I’m not really sure what this is. He said it could also be a tumor on her liver. Even though he knew the prognosis was bad very early on, he let me come to my own conclusion.

At first it was decided that we could take a blood test to see exactly what the problem was. I later decided against this because I felt the outcome was going to be the same either way. No sense in poking her with needles for no reason. Sadie was too weak for surgery, and so even if I wanted to go that route, she would have needed days with a feeding tube down her throat, and even then, there was a slim chance the surgery would be successful. There was no way I would put her through that.

At this point, this was really getting tough. I wasn’t prepared to make the decision, but is was very clear I had to. I went down there thinking they would pump her stomach and give her some vitamins, and in a day or two she would be OK. I never thought I wouldn’t be going home with her.

They rehydrated her a bit and I made an appointment for her to be put to sleep the next day at 3:00. It was really, really tough. The staff at the vets office were extremely kind and very empathetic. I took Sadie home that night and tossed Mort outside. He is the king of the house and Sadie knows her place. They get along fine, but I didn’t want her to have to worry about getting out of his way.

By Friday, Sadie was really going down hill fast. It was amazing how fast her health was failing. When I left for work she was sitting on my bed wide awake, and when I got home at 2:30 she was in the exact same spot and still awake. I don’t think she slept much at all in the past 24 hours. We sat there for about 15 minutes before we left for the vet and I just pet her. She purred the whole time.

When we got down to the vets office the same woman who assisted me the day before saw me walk in and without saying anything I sat down while she looked for an open exam room. She was young and very nice, and it seemed that she was having a hard time with this as well. We went in the room and she had a folder with a release form for me to sign. She let out a let out a short, sharp sigh to compose herself and asked me few questions without ever looking up from the form. Did I want to be present: Yes. Did I want to take the remains: Yes. She looked up briefly and managed a smile and then turned and left quickly.

The vet came in almost immediately and asked if I had any questions. I was curious about the process and how long it would take. There are 3 shots. The first is saline, just to make sure the cathida is working. Then there is a anesthesia to put her asleep. Finally, the third shot stops her heart. The whole procedure takes less than 30 seconds.

They took Sadie out of the room to shave her forearm and put the cathida in. When they brought her back they asked if I wanted more time. I didn’t. The doctor came back in and I held Sadie’s head while I pushed her forearm out towards the doctor. The doctor grabbed her paw and I began to pet her, and with that Sadie began to purr again as the doctor started the injections.

Seconds after the anesthesia went in her head slumped in my hand and she stopped purring. Seconds later her heart stopped and she was gone. The doctor listened for a pulse with his stethoscope, and unlike yesterday, the reason he couldn’t hear it this time wasn’t because she was purring too loud.

Again they asked if I wanted more time with her. I didn’t. They took her out of the room to remove the cathida and put her in the box I had brought. When I got her home and took the top of the box off it looked like she was asleep in there. Her body was still warm and I as I went to pet her, I thought for a brief second that she might spring awake the way cats do when you wake them from a cat nap.

I took her out of the box and laid her on some newspaper on the dining room floor. Mort came in and looked at her briefly but didn’t go near her. I stood there for a minute looking at her. I had this creepy feeling that she might get up at any minute. It just looked like she was sleeping. Mort made his way over to the box and jumped inside to sniff around. When I went to the backdoor he jumped out and followed me.

I dug a hole in the back yard near the porch. Mort watched the whole thing, which is not unusual. He has always been oddly curious when ever I’m working around the house. I wrapped Sadie in newspaper and laid her in the hole while Mort stood next to the hole and looked on. A few minutes later the hole was refilled. I had two concrete piers sitting there from the old two story addition I removed a few years back. I put them on top of the hole, just incase any raccoons want to try anything funny.

If you would have asked me Monday how my week was going to turn out, I never would have guessed it would turn out like this.


Jen said...

Brought tears to my eyes... My cocker spaniel had kidney failure and we had to have him put to sleep. Brought back the memories.

Heather said...

i am so sorry for your loss.

JAXTER said...

Oh Greg- I am so sorry this happened so fast. As I read your words I relived the same events with my first cat - jaxter, another non-stop purring machine. Take good care of yourself and Mort - you guys are in my thoughts

Kathy from NJ said...

Writing about sad times can be very cathartic. Losing your good friend and companion, Sadie, is very sad but you were a wonderful and caring companion for her and she had a great eight years with you.

Monica... Media Professional said...

Oh Greg.... I'm sorry. She sounds like she was a wonderful kitty. I'm sure she appreciated you as much as you appreciated her for the last few years.
I've watched a kitty go semi-quickly from kidney failure and another from liver failure and seeing them both shrink (one started as a 20 pound cat... he was probably half that when my landlords had to have him put down) was tragic.
But you did the right thing. She's in a better place now.

Rose said...

Tears and prayers for you - and her, sir.

Ron said...

I am having a hard time typing this because I am crying. Not that I have not gone through the same thing, but your narrative is so personal and caring. Thanks for having the courage to write it and post it.

Ron (sniff)

StuccoHouse said...

Sorry to hear about Sadie.

Jennifer said...

Sorry to hear about Sadie. I'm sorry for your loss.

Dee said...

I am sorry for your loss.

STAG said...

Thank you so much sir for sharing this personal moment. I feel quite priveleged. So many stray cats are not lucky enough to find a master to care for them such as you did. A pet is more than "just a cat", a pet is a member of the family.

And people wonder why I stop to pick up car-struck cats by the road and seek out their owners!!! I bet you do too!

Beachcomber said...

Condolences to you and Mort on the loss of your friend. Been there..I feel your sadness.

Anonymous said...

Greg, I am so very sorry for your loss. Thank you for having memories of her posted.

Anonymous said...

Greg I am sorry to hear about Sadie. I am glad you found a wonderful vet with caring staff at a hard time like this. I am sure her spirit is still with you at the Petch house.

Central New Yorker

Norah said...

It's never easy. I'm so sorry to hear you had to go through this. She did have a good life with you.

Greg said...

Thanks to everyone for the kind words. It was a though weekend.

Alicia said...

I am so sorry to hear about your kitty, Greg.

Jayne said...

My heart goes out to you. I went through the same thing last year with my dog. I'd had him for 16 years. Give yourself time to grieve. The loss is always there, but it does get better with time.

Sam said...

really sorry bout Sadie Greg. I'm sure Mort will miss her too.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear about Sadie. My very loving kitty died about a year ago and I still get teary eyed about him. I knew it was the end and took a day off from work to spend it doing his favorite thing, watching tv. We spent the day curled up together. My sister came later in the day and I called the vet to come out to the house when it became apparent he was suffering.

Debbie said...

I know it's been a few years since Sadie died, but I'm just now reading your blog.

Your post brought tears to my eyes. The very same week of my brothers funeral, I had to put down my beloved cat. Both of the losses in one week was almost too much to bear. Some people tell me 'how can you compare the loss of your brother to the loss of a cat?' and that's really not what I mean at all. However, losing a pet can hurt our hearts tremendously.

I'm glad you two had each other for a few years.

Greg said...


That was a tough loss, and I'll warn you now, things go from bad to worse with the pets.

Beware the Ides+1 of March.