I can't believe I'm here at this forum again, just over a year from my first visit. I wrote in August of 2018 about my father's companion being struck by a car, and now I'm here to write about my own. I don't know why its helpful to catalogue my thoughts here, but it is. If you get through my whole story, thank you for your time, as this will be considerably long.

In the very early hours of the morning on Wednesday, I had to put my best friend, my first pet, and who was arguably my soulmate to sleep.

Rudy was 10 years old and I knew him from the day he was born. Rudy was born with a malformation of his front right leg and only walked on 3. While this had no issue in his day to day life, I'm an animal professional I knew I somewhere in the back of my head;

His heart.
His heart works harder than other cats'.
His fragile heart, so small and full of love that pushed a little harder than others.

He won't make it as long as other cats.

Rudy spent all of his 10 years and 5 months very healthy and without issue except for a small bout of upper respiratory infection contracted from one of his brothers. Rudy lived through the death of 2 of his siblings, and the comings and goings of 4 foster dogs and 10 foster cats. Rudy never knew a bad day, or a day of suffering. Even at one escape event he simply walked out onto the steps and bathed in the sun.

I have already lost 2 pets to sudden, unexpected, untreatable deaths at an age too young. I have been down this road before, wondering why so many have been taken this way. I've screamed and I've cried and I've sobbed, I have tried to bargain with the forces of the universe to give me my cherished friends back, but never before this have I had to make the decision, then and there, to say goodbye.

I came upstairs to go to bed, it was already 11:45, and there was Rudy, in the bedroom where he always is, waiting for me, but he was in a spot he's not normally in, under a large cat tree. I bent down to say hello, he purred, he rubbed his face hard against my knuckles in his traditional greeting, he threw himself around to get me to pet his belly, all was normal. But, he wouldn't get out from under the cat tree. I called him to get into bed, and he dragged himself by his front arm with a limp in his legs.

Panic set in.

I called him more, I need to figure out what's wrong. He drags himself more, happy to follow despite whatever was happening, I look, he looks like he is limping.

"His knee, he blew out his knee, ACL tear. Terrible situation but very treatable even with his 3 legs. I can fix this. I have pet insurance, I'll figure out my copay later. Now what to do? Do I take him to the er now or wait for the vet in the morning? All the er can do is pain meds and anti-inflammatories, no one is rebuilding a cat's knee at midnight"

I call the er, I ask for advice. They tell me if I'm worried to bring him in. They ask me, specifically if he's limping or dragging his legs, I tell them dragging but not to worry, he doesn't move like a normal cat anyway, not to worry. The first thought of what is to come flashes in my head, I know it's possible, its what happend to his brother, but it's too horrible to think of and I put it out of my mind.

I decide not to go to the er, make preparations to make him comfortable until morning when we can see his vet. I tell my husband there is something wrong with Rudy and he comes up to see him. Rudy purrs and flops around and tries to drag himself around more as I carefully watch him and try to asses what's happening. He makes his way to the doorway and has a rest. I go to pet him, I run my hand down his body from his head to tail. Then, the realization hits.

His tail.
It's not moving, not at all.
Not even as a reflex.
It has gone cold.

I tell my husband I have to take him and my husband says he's coming. We get the carrier and I find a soft blanket for Rudy to lay on. My husband sits in the back seat with him to calm him, Rudy hates the car, always has. We drive the 30 minute drive in record time. The receptionist greets us and the triage tech comes out, its 1:10 AM. We start telling them what's happening. She says "I have to tell you about a condition we may be dealing with, saddle thrombus...

I know, I tell her.
I know what it is because it killed his brother.
His brother who went in to a vet for an easy, non-invasive procedure.
His brother, who wasn't waking up at pick up.
His brother, who never came home and died in a sterile, terrifying office, alone away from home.

They take Rudy to the back and say they will call us back immediately to speak with the vet. We wait what feels like hours. It's not, maybe 15 minutes max. We go back to an exam room and the vet comes out. She says "I'm very worried for him."

My heart feels like it's exploding.
I get nauseous, I almost throw up on the table.
I know what's happening and I don't want to hear it.

A blood clot is lodged somewhere in his rear, he has no pulse in the left leg and very weak pulse in the right. He has very limited function of his rectum, he soiled his carrier. It can be treated, but not here. He's too advanced, and the prognosis is very poor. They find a bad heart murmur, something he did not have on his last wellness. They could try to dissolve the clot, but he could throw more, and I know stress like a vet's office can cause clots to be thrown. He would need physical therapy to restore leg function, but the outlook is grim with only one front leg. If he is going to be treated it has to be at a cardiologist, Corrnell, or Penn, somewhere 2 hours away.

2 hours away.
A two hour car ride, that he would cry and pant his whole way through, assuming he didn't throw a clot on the way to hospital.
2 hours way from the only home he has ever know.
2 hours away where he would have to be hospitalized from a few days to weeks.

His prognosis is awful, and they tell me the reccomend euthanasia. I say I have to see him. Please, let me see him. I can't. I absolutely can't.

They bring him in, he has had iv pain meds and he's comfortable. They bring a soft blanket to lay on the table for him. I tell them I need time. They leave us in the room. My husband and I hold him and sob, I just keep saying "I can't I can't", and Rudy is flopping around in the table, wondering why we are so sad. He comforts us, he smashed his head into our hands like he always has. He's as happy as he's ever been, though stressed being at the vet. We cry, for I don't know how long. I tell my husband to stay with Rudy and I leave to use the restroom. I get on my phone, I need information. I look up FATE in cats and saddle thrombus, I never had a chance to save his brother and I will do anything to save Rudy. Money be damned, it doesnt matter, I can't lose him. I tell my husband this doesn't feel right, to just give up. I find the statistics, the information.

The condition is treatable, but the outcome is extremely difficult to predict.

50% of cats who are hospitalized actually live to leave the hospital.
Median survival rate, 277 days.
Of cats who survived treatment, 85% throw another clot within 6-12 months.
If function is not restored to the back legs, the tissue will necrotize and the skin can fall off the body.
The blot clot is a secondary condition of an underlying heart condition.

I go back to the room. I hold Rudy, and I tell my husband we have to do it. We have to let him go. He has been happy every day of his life, and I can't put him through the suffering death of the treatment because I want to hold him a little longer. I can't bear the thought of him dying so far away from everyone he loves, and from all the warmth and familiarity of his home. I can't bear the risk of doing all this to have him have another attack anywhere from days to months after we get home. More than I can't bear to lose him, I can't bear to watch him suffer. My husband agrees. We call the tech in, we tell her we have to euthanize, and I want him to be made as comfortable as possible, and we need to spend some more time with him. They give us a buzzer and tell us to take all the time we need.

We sit with him for an hour. For Rudy's part, it was just a weird place but his mom and dad were here, so it's okay. We cried, Rudy purred. I told him he'd never know how much I love him, and that I won't let him be sad and in pain. Rudy's hair is soaked in our tears. He lays on his side, and after a time his breathing gets more rapid, the unease of being in the hospital. I have to do it. I'll sit with him until he succumbs to stress and begins to suffer if I dont just do it. We ring the buzzer.

As the vet prepares the shot of anesthesia, Rudy lays his head in my hand, I scratch his ears I always have, he falls asleep. I kiss him, the second shot goes in the the vet check his pulse, and he is gone.


I never believed I would be able to live through this, but it's been nearly 48 hours and I am still here. I have learned from experience not to take the fragile lives of our pets for granted, and I often thought, when laying with Rudy at night, how will I ever cope with losing you? I held him close and scratched him in all the right places when these thoughts came. I've had to take medication to help me sleep these last two nights, it's nearly impossible without him. My husband has been helping me fall asleep as well.

As odd as it may a sound, I am so grateful so many things right now, and I'm trying to see the positive because I know it's what Rudy would want.

I'm grateful for every single day of the decade I spent with him.
I'm grateful he was part of my life.
I'm grateful I had the will to take him to the er, to spare his suffering and mine had I found him dead come the morning.
I'm grateful for the wonderful, patient, and kind staff of the ER, who were immeasurably helpful to both us and Rudy.
Most of all, I am grateful Rudy was happy every second, right up to the end. I'm grateful he never knew a hardship in all his days, and that he knew love and comfort through his whole life.

I wish this could have been different, and I am oddly functional now after this, maybe is the escapism I've been doing or trying to fully solidify that I made the right choice for him. I want so badly to just get one more day, I would give everything I own to see him for just a short time more, but even if I got that day I would just want another.

I know, above all else, I would not give up all of the anguish and heart break and suffering I feel now if it meant I never had him in my life.

I love you Rudy, now and always.

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What a touching story about a beautiful fur baby . I lost my soulmate, Snickers, on May 15 and still tear up with every thought of her. She was a rescue dog, terrier beagle, and the best dog in my 69 years of having many pets. I know you will see Rudy again just as I know I will see my dear Snickers. Peace to you!
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Jmbrph wrote:
What a touching story about a beautiful fur baby . I lost my soulmate, Snickers, on May 15 and still tear up with every thought of her. She was a rescue dog, terrier beagle, and the best dog in my 69 years of having many pets. I know you will see Rudy again just as I know I will see my dear Snickers. Peace to you!

Thank you for taking the time to read about Rudy and for your kind words. I have no doubt you'll meet your Snickers again, I'm sorry for the pain you still endure. I hope one day you can relive the happy memories of snickers without being overwhelmed by loss.
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I am so sorry for your loss of your sweet Rudy.    

Rudy knows how much he is loved.  From the moment he entered your life, Rudy knew and felt your love.  You did all you could do to make Rudy better, 'till the last minute. Again, I am sorry for your loss.  
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