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Monday, December 08, 2008

Farewell, My Friend

By Susan Logan
Editor of and CAT FANCY magazine

Last weekend Chamois, my 17-year-old Tonkinese cat, stopped eating on her own, which is very unusual for her because she’s always had a voracious appetite. I fed her wet food with a syringe until I could get her to the vet on Monday morning.

By afternoon, I was shocked to learn that she was in severe kidney failure. The vet would need to keep her for at least three days to flush the toxins out of her body with fluids and then recheck her blood to see if there was any improvement.

During her stay at the hospital, I visited Chamois every day because I wanted to make sure she didn’t feel abandoned. She seemed to be feeling better for the next couple of days, but on Thursday her condition suddenly deteriorated. My once athletic and graceful cat lay there limp. The vet told me her body temperature dropped and that blood tests showed her condition worsened.

When I sat next to her and petted her, she purred and moved around as though she wanted to get up but she couldn’t. I actually had to help her sit up and hold her in place so she wouldn’t fall over. Her legs had no strength in them. Knowing Chamois, this had to be frustrating.

I was with my sister when she died eight years ago and this felt familiar. I had a feeling she was slipping away.

The entire time I was with Chamois, she vocalized to me. I knew she was trying to communicate something to me and I tried hard to figure out what it was. Whenever I stood up or moved around in my chair, she vocalized more, so I figured she was saying, “Don’t leave me.”

Even though I needed to get back to work for a meeting, I decided to clear my schedule for the rest of the day and stay with her. Everyone at work was understanding. At that moment, I felt blessed to be the editor of CAT FANCY and CatChannel. At what other job could I say, “I’m canceling this meeting because my cat doesn’t want me to leave her”?

As I made phone calls to rearrange my schedule, I started to cry. The vet tech overheard and when I got off the phone, she came to talk to me. Through tears of her own, she told me exactly what I needed to hear.

“No matter what you do, know that you will feel guilty,” she said. “Some people euthanize so they can hold their pet in their arms and not run the risk of the animal dying alone at the vet hospital when no one is here.” I was facing a tough decision and whatever I decided, I knew I needed to stay with Chamois.

When the vet was available again, we talked. I told him I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to give up on Chamois just in case she still wanted to fight, but I didn’t want her to die alone either. He said he could give her enough fluids to get her through the night and that I could take her home. My job was to bring her back in the morning for more fluids and to keep her warm.

When I got her home, three friends were there to see her and comfort me. She seemed to soak up all the attention and vocalized with each person who came to see her.

That night I placed her on a heating pad and towel on my bed and fell asleep next to her. Around 4 a.m. I awoke and placed my hands on her. Although she was still warm, she was no longer breathing. She let out a soft purr, however, and I felt that was her way of saying farewell, thank you for staying with her and that she is OK.

I haven’t begun to fully process my feelings for this loss, but I’m comforted in knowing Chamois had a long and wonderful life.

Chamois on the Bed
This is Chamois resting on my bed when she was
in her prime of life.

Chamois Poised
Chamois was my beautiful and dainty
Tonkinese cat who lived 17 happy years.

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Reader Comments

Steve    Englewood, NJ

1/28/2011 10:46:51 PM

I just re-read this column and it had the same effect on me as when I read it in the issue nearly two years ago.

That is to say, it really got to me.

I had to euthanize my wonderful Cleo Oct. 20, 2007. She had some kind of intestinal tumor, hyperthyroidism and at the end, signs of kidney failure.

Those last days, when she couldn't, wouldn't, wasn't able to eat were tough. She last ate on a Tuesday...and by Friday night I almost took her to the vet to euthanize. I called the animal hosp., and my heart began to pound. And I thought, no no, don't rush into anything...don't give up.

She had barely been moving and when I propped her up the next day and she stumbled, I knew.

It's more than 3 years later and it still gets to me.

Reading your column brought so many emotions back.

But I know I did all I could for her.

Soon after, I decided to adopt another cat. Not to replace Cleo...they're all unique...but she reminded me how much I love cats (I had two growing up) and wanted to have another.

The rescue group at my local Petsmart suggested taking two, so that they could socialize, keep each other company and have a buddy to help them tear the paper towels to shreds!

Each time I would go to Petsmart to get food, litter, toys, whatever for the girls...I would go by the rescue area and wish I could take another one home.

So last April...I did!

Now there are three felines who let me sublet the apartment...Logan the calico, Fearless the tuxedo and Squeaky the tortie.

And so while I still miss my Cleo...and the two from my youth...their legacy is that now three beautiful cats have a home.

I love them to bits, I take care of them and spoil
them rotten!

Vicky    antioch, CA

1/21/2011 12:35:10 AM

I am terribly sorry for loosing Chamois, I am still grieving my self for my 2 cats, each one with different likes & dislikes. I always say, well, I wish I would of pushed the doctor to see things my way. I gave Tyler, then 15 years old, the best life. I am still very sad. He loved me & I loved him.
My second cat, Sylvester just passed away & I wish I could of done more. He loved being free, just like his mother. I had him even before his eyes opened, his mother was run over transporting them to another location. I could not keep Sylvester inside without him showing he was mad.
I always put my pets first, regardless of the money needed.
I currently have one cat, 17 yrs old, Mossie & she is now clinging to me just like a dog. When I am sick, she is always there. I also have 2 Doxi's, Lycy 7 yrs & Max 3 yrs.

Meow-meow    Phenix City, AL

8/4/2010 5:27:39 AM

This is a sad story and I cried at the part that the long soft purr part.... I love cats and I have nine and I would hate for any of them to get hurt or have any problems... I'm very sad.

Clarence    Kaiserslautern, AE

4/28/2010 5:03:06 AM

My cat, Minka, passed away yesterday. She was 20 years old, a black and white tabby. She waited at the gate of the house when I returned from work, she slept at the foot of the bed, always moving up towards my back, sometimes laying on my stomach. I can't believe she is gone. I miss her!

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