I'm sorry for the mini story to follow....I feel that if I don't get this out I will burst. 

My husband and I put our cat Kingsley (King) to rest this past Sunday. His health had been declining for months and we knew it was time when he refused to eat anything we offered. For three days we could only get him to nibble and he couldn't get off his bed without assistance. I made the call on the third and by the fifth he was gone. 

In the end, he wasn't himself. He would stare into space and cry out in pain at random times. On Saturday night, he lost control of his bowels and it looked as if he was bleeding internally. I knew without a shadow of doubt that it was time. He was asking for us to do what he couldn't. And that was to let him go. 

King joined my life when he was six weeks old and left 15 and half years later. I was just 14. I met my would be husband a year later, so he had known King for basically his entire life.  He had a great life and was spoiled beyond belief. He went in my arms, in his own home in front of his favorite things; a roaring fire and the Christmas tree. There was no pain. As I said, he was ready and left nearly as soon as the vet began. 

We're heartbroken at his passing to be sure, but we knew it was coming. He had a beautiful life and was surrounded by love. Where I'm having trouble is the anger and the guilt. 

His health began with the failing of his bladder back in March of 2019. He began randomly losing control of his functions. Nothing major, just minor accidents. But of course we took him to check to see what was going on. It was diagnosed as stress due to our younger cat's rambunctiousness. Tests came back clean. He was given anti-anxiety pills. It seemed to work for a while. 

In June we took him back in for the same issue. And this time we were told his bladder was enlarged. Meaning that he wasn't releasing it at all. They drained his bladder, checked for damage to kidneys, blood levels etc. Nothing stood out. I asked about diabetes as he was an older cat. His blood sugar was 150 - only slightly elevated and was attributed to stress. But he was healthy.  Again we left with pills for anxiety along with medication to help contract his bladder to empty it. The medication caused seizures but we were advised to keep him on it. The seizures stopped and he seemed ok. We did purchase a pen that we kept him in for his safety. The last thing I wanted was for him to seize at the top of the stairs while were gone. He was kept in it while we were at work and let out at night when we were home. More often than not, he would stay in there even with the door open. Followed up with the vet regularly and everything was fine. The minor accidents still happened but attributed to old age at this time. We kept an eye on urine output and helped express him as needed. 

He was doing well all the way until the end of October. My husband was working from home and as such he was not in the pen. He dribbled urine in the kitchen and it was tinged with blood. We rushed him to an emergency vet. He was there for two nights on fluids. We were told he had a massive UTI and was diabetic. I was devastated. I knew that this was marking the end. He came home with insulin and antibiotics. And he made a HUGE recovery for 3 weeks. No accidents, blood sugar was good and he was more alert. We were so hopeful. 

Then it all went to pot just before Thanksgiving. His UTI came back, and his demeanor changed. He began becoming reclusive and then would cling on to us. Took him in for follow up for his diabetes and we were advised to completely redo his diet. We did and it helped for a bit. We were due for his next follow up just after the New Year (just this week.) But everything went so far sideways that he never made it to his appointment. 

I am wracked with guilt. Is there something I missed? His last few weeks were filled with a pill getting shoved in his mouth for a UTI, toes pricked for blood sugar testing, shots for insulin, getting his bladder expressed and my husband and I running around getting ready for the holiday season. It's true he had a fire almost every night to lay in front of and a highly researched and planned diet of food he was enjoying. I'm disgusted with myself for all the times I felt frustrated with his accidents and not being able to stop and give him a cuddle when he asked because I had something else I needed to do. On his last night, my husband and I took shifts to stay up with him. We "slept" downstairs in front of his fire. But he was restless, and would drag himself across the room. We couldn't keep him still. When the vet came, he pulled himself to her, because he knew why she was there. My husband has never lost a pet before this and he is absolutely destroyed. His passing brings up fears of my own health concerns and profound sense of failure that he never got meet our child because my stupid body doesn't work. Instead of filling our house with life, I am afraid that it will just be empty one day. I lost my best friend, my protector from the night with no promise of new life.
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I have a very similar story.  I just lost my cat Gracie - literally an hour ago.  We noticed around the holidays she seemed lethargic and a little thin.  We took her in for a blood test.  Her kidneys are failing.  It seems she had chronic kidney disease which is common in cats.  Gracie was always pretty healthy.  She had vet visits for some skin issues but nothing major.  Nothing was ever diagnosed related to kidney issues.  We got the test results back on Saturday - and we lost her today.  She had nothing left to give.  The disease was devastating her.  We are heart broken it went so fast.  Gracie was only about 9 - she was a rescue so we are close but not sure. 

Again - similar to you - my daughter had here her entire life.  My daughter is 20 years old.  Obviously - she is heartbroken.

The vet said she lost a cat at 10 years old of the same thing.  This tends to get diagnosed late. I can also relate to your husband.  We have not been through this for about 10 years - but it is brutal.  It is hard to believe a little black cat, abandoned in a field, adopted in a Kroger parking lot - has reduced me to a mess.  When she was not with my daughter - she was laying on me in my chair.  I am so unbelievably sad I will not have my chair buddy anymore.

Like you - I have struggled with the "should we have known" ="what could we have done" etc.  I think in reality - there was not much to be done in either of our cases.  The grieving heart is a very humbling thing.  It can generate beautiful memories but also unbelievable sadness.  I know.  Guilt and anger feed on itself.....

I can tell by your post the love you had for King.  I bet he had an incredible life.  That is what you need to focus on.  I realize that is easier said than done.  I am attempting to practice what I preach. 

I pray for you to find peach and comfort.

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My heart goes out to both of you. This forum has been a godsend to me during extreme periods of pain and grief.

I've published a couple of posts here citing a few articles and items that have helped me. In particular I remind myself of "The Ball in the Box" theory of grief. Everyone's "ball" shrinks at a different rate of time. Mine is still full-sized...

There are 7 stages of grief and it takes as long as it takes to go through them all. Everyone's "time table" is different. Everyone has days when grief overtakes us. Sometimes these days last for weeks at a time. That's OK. Feel what you feel.

And we are here to listen without judgement and give you understanding, compassion, support, and love.

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Thank you both for the kind words. It's been a very odd experience. I still feel like I'll see him sitting in front of the fireplace when I get home from work or will hear him yelling at me to feed him. 

The Ball in a Box has been a huge help with understanding my grief. It almost feels as if the ball shrinks and grows throughout the day. My coworker asked what I wanted to do for lunch today. I had been ok until that point. But that simple question that I answered with a jab about my failed resolution to eat out less reduced me to tears. I haven't been to bring myself to do much about food since we made the decision so I've been eating just for the sake of keeping myself going. 

I know it will get better. I'm lucky to have a great support group, both physically and digitally. But right now it's hard to see the light of when it will get better. 
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