It's only been 2 days since I had to say goodbye to my beautiful 15 year old cat, Gabby. I had her since she was about 6 months old. She was truly a soulmate cat, and she meant everything to me. I loved every second I spent with her. She was always so sweet, calm, and funny. I couldn't have asked for a better cat. She was beautiful inside and out. So many times, I would just look at her and couldn't believe how lucky I was to have her. I couldn't believe it was possible for such an amazing creature to even exist. It was like she knew exactly what I needed, and she was the perfect cat for me.

I am so fortunate that I had so many happy years with her. She had always been healthy, and I am so grateful for that. As she was getting older, I often found myself worrying about the inevitable. I would wonder about how much time I had left with her, and it was so unbearable to even think about. I couldn't stand the thought of being without her. But now that is my reality, as the day I had been dreading was 2 days ago.

Things had changed pretty suddenly. Last week, I noticed she started breathing more heavily than usual. At first I didn't think that much of it, I thought maybe she was just hot or something. But then as it continued, I started worrying that something was really wrong. When I did a quick search online, I basically found that heavy breathing was an emergency and could be fatal. I took her to the ER that night. She was diagnosed with chylothorax, which I had never heard of until then. Fluid had built up around her lungs, which was causing her difficulty breathing. The vet told me that to determine an underlying cause, more tests would be required but that often they find no underlying cause. The overall outlook was not good. 

I went ahead with having a chest tap done on her, to drain some of the fluid. But with this condition, the fluid will still continue to accumulate, so this did not actually solve the problem. It did briefly help her to breathe a little easier, though I knew it would only be a matter of time for the fluid to build up again. From what I had read, it could return within 24 - 72 hours. I took her home, and at first she seemed ok. I felt so on edge though, worried about every breath. She was sort of acting like herself, though she didn't eat as much as usual. The next day, she took a turn for the worse. She seemed to be struggling, and just lying around. She didn't want to eat. It was so sad to see, for a cat that had always been healthy.

One option would have been to keep taking her back to have chest taps done as needed to drain the fluid. I did consider that, but she was such a sensitive cat. She hated even going in the car, let alone being poked and prodded by people. I am sure she was truly traumatized by the first chest tap, and now I've been feeling guilty about even having it done at all, as it didn't change things overall. They also mentioned some other type of invasive surgery, which would be costly and didn't even have a high success rate.

She deteriorated so quickly after the first chest tap, I thought that even if I did have the procedure done again to drain more fluid, she would just deteriorate again. She would be so stressed to have to keep going back for those procedures, and it might not even help. I decided that I just could not put her through any more trauma or stress, especially considering her age and how sensitive she was. I didn't think it would be fair to her. So I made the agonizing decision to say goodbye to her.

I feel that it was the right decision but of course I also feel terrible about it, feeling like maybe I should've tried more. But at the same time, how could I put her through more? My sweet, sensitive baby.

I knew it would be difficult, but I feel so overwhelmingly empty without her. The house seems so empty too, without her presence. I've worked from home for several years, so I was with her almost all of the time. I'm so very lucky that I got to spend so much time with her, but I just don't know what to do now that she isn't here. She brought such happiness and comfort just by being who she was. I don't know how I'll ever fill the void now.

Thank you for reading if you have gotten this far.

I will love her and miss her forever.

- Jackie [DSC_0688%202]
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I lost myTiger two days ago. I’d had him over 17 years. I , too, had to make the gut wrenching decision to put him down. I’m devastated. I cried less today, but the grief, guilt, and pain is so intense. This forum has brought me some comfort, just knowing my emotions are validated. I hope you find comfort soon,( myself also) and know your pain is real and normal. 


Kimberly wallen
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Dear Jackie,

I am very saddened to read of you recent loss of your beloved "Gabby." She was such a beauty and there is a soulfulness and a knowingness in her eyes. I concur with so much of what you wrote. I felt the same way about my orange boy. A cat named "Marmalade." I knew I might lose him at any time as he aged and he had various health conditions and I used to gently hug him and say "One of us may go. But right now THIS IS OUR TIME together."

Marmalade did not like the Vet's either, and did not like being handled, prodded, poked, injected, medicated, treated, operated on etc. He was becoming a shadow of his former noble self so like you I made the decision to let him go and had him put to sleep. I knew it would break my heart completely but could only think of him and his needs, not mine. He was my best friend, my son, my brother, my only family and my companion in life. We only knew each other for 4 1/2 years, but he truly enriched my life the way your Gabby did yours.

I send you warm wishes and prayers for healing. I'm glad that your paths crossed with your girl when they did and that for so many years she knew that she was loved, cherished and adored and that she was important. And that she lived in a safe and comforting home. And that when the time came you showed her the mercy she deserved and helped her to depart. All cats should be so blessed.

Kind regards and my deepest condolences,
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Dear Jackie,

I am so sorry for your loss.  What a beautiful cat.  I know the pain you are feeling because my husband and I just unexpectedly lost our precious DD on Saturday July 11th.  He was almost 13 years old.   He was completely fine on Friday and then this happened.  We immediately took him to the emergency vet, and we were told he was in shock and had trouble breathing.  They even did CPR on him and called to ask if they should continue;  we said no as it would not be fair for him.  Apparently, they felt a growth in his abdomen.  Just like you, our house and hearts are so empty without him.  However, I do believe you made the right decision.  Time will heal both of us.  The loving memories will replace the pain that we are now feeling in our hearts.

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Dear Jacky, I am so sorry about your sweet Gabby. I just lost my beloved cat Deeder 2 weeks ago today. He had bladder cancer but also went into kidney failure and heart failure in the end. I too held him in my arms as a tiny kitten and he was 18 when I put him to sleep.  He was my soul cat and no words can express the depth of my grief. I had another cat Bowser who had the same condition as your cat. I put him to sleep in last June. We tapped his chest over and over again but he kept filling right back up. He was 14 years old. You made the right decision. It’s a difficult situation to treat, especially when they are a senior. Deeder got sick with bladder cancer right after Bowser died. On top of it my 21 year old cat Shelton died right before Deeder had surgery in November for the cancer. My heart goes out to you. I know how much you miss Gabby. I slept with Deeder on my chest or pillow every night, and he was a big talker. He was the joy of my life. Take care of yourself. You gave Gabby a wonderful life, and her spirit will never leave you.  14C290AE-659B-4473-9E7D-A56F1D68225B.jpeg 
Jeanne Swift
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Thank you all so much for your kind words and support. It is much appreciated. It helps to learn about other people's experiences and to see that I am not alone. I am so sorry for all of your losses, and for all of the pain that you have all felt. Our animals are a part of us, and when they're gone, it's like a part of us is missing. I'm wishing comfort and strength for all of you.

- Jackie
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