14 Dec 2020

Saying Goodbye to Your Pet

2020 sure is something. Somehow I have hoped that personally, it is going to be a year that I am just going to cross out of my life, because little happened besides sitting in my own flat and zooming my eyes out. However I was sorely mistaken. Just more than a week ago, on the 5th of December, I had to say goodbye to my beloved pet cat Puka. Although the loss is still affecting me a lot, I decided to dedicate this blogpost to those who have a terminally ill pet and are in a situation where they have to choose what to do: to try and to combat the ailment to the last minute or release the pet into the Fields of Eternal Hunt.



Puka was still a young cat (4 years old) when she was diagnosed with kidney insufficiency. The vets were not sure where she got this ailment, was it inherited or we overlooked an infection that caused it, but the fact remained: we have a terminally ill cat and she is not going to live the full age of a cat, which is 14-16 years. We were offered on a spot to put her down, because the treatment would be attention and time consuming, as well as expensive. However, me and my husband decided to try and prolong her life as much as possible. 
   Her treatment included Subcutaneous fluid administration (SFA) via drip system, various supplements and anti-nausea medicine, special food, regular checkups. Because cats with kidney problems are prone to cold, we got her an electric pillow that she used to the last days of her life. Each morning and each evening, for 4 years we measured how much of her food she eats every day, my husband made an Excel spreadsheet to mark her stats after each visit to the vet clinic and so on. All in all, with constant care, Puka was able to live for almost 4 more years. 
   Sure, there were ups and downs along the path. Usually in spring and autumn there would be a period of withdrawal, when she would stop eating, vomit a lot, stay lethargic for some time. We have learned how to combat that, and when this November she started to show the signs of withdrawal, we thought that OK, let's brace ourselves and we'll get through again. But we didn't.
   Our cat was getting more and more lethargic, she would spend all of her day laying on her warm pillow, refusing to consume her food and drinking very little water. My husband took her to the vet where the results of her blood test were shocking: all the stats had skyrocketed and she was experiencing anaphylactic shock from toxins in her body. When he brought Puka back with a detailed plan for treatment, we saw that she started to avoid us, her tail started twitching as well as she started to shake, as if from cold. On the morning of her last day, she could not jump onto her pillow anymore... This made us worry greatly, so my husband took her to the vet once again where we were told that the chances of her surviving are very low. In the afternoon, we got a call that she was having seizures and we should come and decide what to do because poor animal is suffering. I was already crying for the whole day, because I had the feeling that we might have used all of her 9 lives to keep with us here, and it might be the time that we would be forced to say goodbye forever.
   I would spare you the details of our goodbye, but the thing that made us to resolve to let her go was understanding that our pet was suffering. We were informed that the percentage of her getting well is low, miracle-like, and the treatment that would follow after could prolong her life for couple of weeks, if not less. And it would be constant attention with the knowledge that she is going away and what we are doing is just selfishly holding on to her, because we cannot part with her. With our hearts breaking, we decided to put her situation above the greed of our unprepared hearts, and take on the grief and sorrow that followed the whole situation.
   I also cannot stress how important it is to stay with your pet until the last moments of their life. Although we weren't allowed to stay with her until the last shot was administered (according to our vet, people tend to act irrationally in this phase, so they decided to keep them out), my husband was with Puka while she had the first shot of sedatives. We know that she knew that we were there, we saw her reacting, so to let her to hear our voices, to smell us, and maybe to see us, was the least we could have done to her.
   Last, but far from the least, being thankful for your pet for all the time you spent together also enables you to let them go. We knew that she made us happy and that we have given the best we could during those 8 trialing years of our being together. She was our dear, dear friend, and I tear up while writing this, but understanding that there was not much that we could have done, eases my grief and guilt, even just a little bit. 
   The loss of our Puka is going to be felt constantly. We try to cope with the emptiness that she left in our hearts, because she was one of a kind. But at this same time we feel lucky to be able to meet a cat like her, to have shared our home for 8 beautiful years, and to have experienced all the things, good and bad. 

Stay strong, stay healthy!..







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