Torqued2Spec
While in Florida years ago my fiancée and I decided to look into a shelter my sister had been talking about. We chose a kitten named Jasper (7wo) and a cat named Max (8yo) chose us. He climbed into my fiancées purse and sat there purring.

When we adopted them Max had a upper respiratory infection so we nursed him back to health under vet instructions. Over the years Max and I had grew a bond I've never had before and had never let myself grow before. He would hear me walking down the hall and wait for me at the door meowing. He wouldn't eat in the morning until I woke up and brought him into the kitchen. We would just meow at each other back and forth.

He also was the best to cuddle with and I would pick him up all the time and he would hug me with an arm on both shoulders licking my face. He was my best friend.

Every year around the same time he would get congested so like we did every year we would syringe feed him and syringe administer water until he would get healthy. He started to get healthy again. He started to use the litter box again. He was getting more alert and less lethargic. My fiancée and I decided to give him a bath (he hated to be dirty), and we did. As we picked him up and started to dry him off though he went limp. I watched my best friend just go lifeless. I'm devastated. I can't function. He was gasping every minute or so as I rushed him to the vet. They told us he had already passed away. I feel so empty.

I try to remember the good times but it's very hard when I think he died because of something I did or didn't do. I blame it on myself. What if I had brought him to the vet sooner? What if I gave him more water and food? What if I didn't give him the bath? Did I make him sick by taking an extra day before cleaning the cat box?

The guilt I feel is all I can feel right now besides grief. My best friend went lifeless right in front of me and I couldn't do anything. Was his last memory of me sadness or anger because I was giving him a bath?

Jasper is almost as heartbroken as me. Calling for him constantly and peeking up at any noise in the apartment thinking he will come through the door.
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chicagocats
I'm sorry for your loss of Max. Most of us hear understand the guilt. When something goes wrong we are certain we could have prevented it.
You did everything you always did to help Max when he would become ill. Syringe feeding him and then giving him a bath so he would feel better. You didn't cause his death. You can go back and speak with your vet. Sometimes it's helpful to hear a vet explain what happened and that you didn't cause it. The hospice vet explained to me that sometimes our best efforts don't yield the results we want. We don't have control over every outcome- which has been incredibly difficult for me to accept, but I'm working on it. I do know I tried everything to make my kitty well just as you tried to make Max well. Your actions weren't the cause of his death and you were showing him love in his last moments - bathing him because he would be happier to be clean.
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Bailey15
First I need to say how special it was for you to adopt Max and Jasper from a shelter. From what you described, Max must have thought he hit the jackpot - meowing back and forth with you during breakfast and having you tend his needs. Animals are so intuitive and rescued animals are so grateful. Max certainly knew how much you loved him - such a gift you gave him and I know he gave it right back to you! He obviously had something going on and as traumatic as that would be for him to pass (practically in your arms while you were bathing him) he went quickly. You didn't need to make that awful decision and he didn't suffer. I honestly don't think the bath had anything to do with it (or the litter box) I'm so sorry for the pain you are in and also for little Jasper and your husband. They really are like our family members and it's so terribly difficult when we lose them. I do understand. Peace and hugs, MJ
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cakes488
There is one thing for sure..it's nothing that you did.  You may have to accept the fact that you may never know.  My sisters cat did that too...just died and he was healthy and he was not old and we had to come to terms with we will never know what happened...but it's not easy...I know. 
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Torqued2Spec
Thank you guys. Talking it out has helped a little bit. I'm still hurting more than I have ever hurt in my life and feel like I'm just empty now, but it is going a little better. I still catch myself looking for him in his usual sleeping spaces or expecting him to be there when I get home or when I wake up. It's really hard to function still at work, especially considering I seem to have so much free time now to ponder over what ifs and still have that imagine in my head of him going limp.

My friend is actually in the middle of moving apartments and can't have a cat at their new place so we decided to watch her. I hope it helps to have her around more than it hurts. I hope Jasper doesn't mind too much or think I'm trying to replace Max so soon.
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Torqued2Spec
As I keep going over what I could have done different and hating myself sometimes, I really regret not going into the room at the vet where he was laying. I should have pet him one more time and kissed his forehead and called him pretty like I had always done regardless of how he was sick or healthy... I was just so upset and hurt I couldn't see him like that.

I will really miss laying my head on his body softly and hearing his heartbeat. Mimicking his breaths. Playing with his fur or his huge bushy tail.
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