borealis

I lost my sweet 12 year old tabby 3 weeks ago.

Around March I could sense she was declining. We could only do a virtual consult at that time. The vet said hard to tell without an actual exam but recommended some supplements and monitoring, but could be cancer or arthritis. A few weeks later she seemed even worse so I made appointment to take her in for actual visit. They come and greet you and the curbside but you aren't allowed to be present. I was fully expecting the worst. That vet had read first vet's consult, and was in agreement to start pain meds as long as bloodwork and weight were ok. He said there was definitely a lot of pain though. Part of me felt so much joy that bloodwork and weight were good! I think I gave myself some false hope, which is a dangerous thing. Anyways, I brought her home and started the pain meds and the vet told me to update him so I provided email updates. About 10 days later she showed some gradual, slight improvement...eating more, not as withdrawn. Then about 6 days after that she started to decline again. I emailed the clinic that Wednesday night. I wish I had called instead...but she was still eating/drinking and walking around a little bit. On Friday I spoke to the vet and wondered if maybe should try a different pain medication but he assured me that one was safe. My end of the conversation to him was should I bring her in? get labs rechecked? he didn't think so since it has been so recent and to try again in a few weeks. So that night she was still eating and drinking a little bit and walking around....but she jumped up to sleep next to the other cat (unusual but not unheard of).

Something in me thought to take her outside to feel the sun because it had been a long winter. I picked her up and carried her downstairs and went outside for a bit. She didn't cry out or anything. (I hadn't been cuddling with her as much over the past months as she seemed to prefer sleeping in her usual spot. But I know she had a lot of lap time with my partner. He was at home with her when I was at work and said they were having lots of lap time.)She lay down in the grass and sun and chewing on the plants a little bit and walking around.

She hung around us in the kitchen most of that evening...not hiding or anything. I checked on her at midnight and she was sleeping in her new favourite area near the food/water. I went to bed around then in the living room. I was then awoken to a sound around 4 am - looked to the couch and she wasn't in her usual favourite spot - and found her gone on the floor a couple of feet away from me. Can't get that image out of my mind. Struggling with regret on that Wednesday night that I emailed the clinic instead of calling and that I didn't convey my concerns enough to the vet when I spoke with him on Friday. Feel like she was giving me those three days to help her and I totally failed her in her time of need. So upset that I didn't research the pain meds more throughly. I remember briefly mentioning to the vet that she had done well on gabapentin. Wish I had asked for that, or some opioids...

In some ways I was more mentally prepared for the worst when I had brought her in - but then I got that false hope. I still remember the joy I felt when he said he bloodwork and weight were good so the all clear to start the meds. Little did I know that only 2 weeks later I would feel such sorrow...

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Jan_H
I am very sorry for your loss of your sweet tabby cat. The roller coaster of emotions is challenging and it is normal to have regrets and feel guilt. But you took good care of her and followed the vet's advice. You gave her a life full of love and peace. I hope in time good memories can help ease the sorrow.

My condolences,
Jan
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Buddy_Mama
Dear borealis: I'm so sorry for your loss. I can identify with so much of what you describe: the symptoms, what the vet says or prescribes, the second-guessing, the raw pain at losing a baby so suddenly and so (relatively) young. But please do NOT blame yourself or feel guilty. You did everything you could to follow the vet's advice and mitigate your baby's pain. As I'm sure you know, cats are very good at hiding their symptoms and pain (since it's built into their DNA), so even when you're on alert for those, it's not always possible to detect or treat sooner.

And please don't obsess on the idea that she was giving you extra time to help her, and that you failed her. You did *not* fail her. Neither she, nor the vet, nor you could have known exactly what was wrong, or exactly what would happen. Sometimes organs, systems, or fate just fails our little babies, no matter what we do - or could have done.

I hope you're doing OK, gradually finding some peace and healing in slow motion... as all of us are. Sending you hugs...
Cindy (Buddy’s mama)
My baby Buddy 5/4/10-3/7/20, rescued March 2011
My sweet Mandy 11/27/91-11/2/10, rescued November 1992
My beautiful Barney 4/28/73-9/7/92, adopted May 1973
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Pecan_mom
I’m so sorry for your loss.  My sweet dog Pecan passed away suddenly 10 weeks ago.  She was only 9 so I know how you feel.  Please don’t blame yourself.  You did the very best you could.  I feel guilty and blame myself too but I wish I could listen to everyone around me and stop.  It’s ok to grieve but don’t blame yourself.  Please be kind to yourself and give yourself time.  Sending you love and light. 
Sp
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borealis

Thank you for your replies.
My March virtual consult, it was hard for me to put into words what was wrong, but just something...that vet thought could be anything from IBD, cancer or arthritis. I remember I told the vet I wanted her to be comfortable. The April visit, I remember thinking, this is it...but when the bloodwork came back good to start the pain meds, I got that dangerous false hope. There may have been something that wasn't picked up in the bloodwork.

I agonized over thinking the pain medication she was prescribed in April is what caused it. But she did seem to *slightly* improve 10 days after the pain medication. Or maybe I was deluding myself. I have sometimes seen with humans who can finally relax and let go once they receive pain medications...and there was a reason she needed the pain medication in the first place. But maybe she should have been prescribed steroids or opioids...I guess the vets have to try other things first. I know they are working with reduced hours / restrictions with how the world is right now. That's part of the sadness to all of this....the world feels so sad right now and she was my soothing antidote to all of that.

When I spoke to the vet on Friday I worry it was a rushed/poor connection because I was at work so didn't convey her situation properly.

But it's so crazy - the night she died, I remember her walking out into the kitchen because my husband was pouring cereal and it sounded like dry kibble in a bowel so she was coming to investigate.

I think it's part of the unknowing exactly what happened that's hard.

I rescued her as a tiny barn kitten. We probably took her too young from her mother but she was the runt of the litter and obviously not surviving in that situation. There were many vet visits in the early days for all kinds of things. At age 3, one of the best vets I've ever encountered recommended removing all her teeth (poor genetics) as she said they could leave some in but those would eventually need to be pulled and that putting animals under surgery or anaesthetic is always a risk you want to avoid. She was a very gentle sweet soul. Complete people person / lap cat. Always wanting to be on a lap or cuddled behind your knees. And always would run out so worried if she heard a baby cry! If you made eye contact with her she would meow and walk across the room to where you were. She was not fond of other cats though except for my other dearly beloved cat who mothered her when she was a kitten. My other cat lived much longer, with much less vet interventions...so I think I was expecting my sweet lady to be around for so much longer.

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Buddy_Mama
29B1AC7E-C0A9-485E-8D53-C0BAEFD3D7CF.jpeg 
Cindy (Buddy’s mama)
My baby Buddy 5/4/10-3/7/20, rescued March 2011
My sweet Mandy 11/27/91-11/2/10, rescued November 1992
My beautiful Barney 4/28/73-9/7/92, adopted May 1973
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borealis

I received an email that the vet clinic will be resuming normal service. I feel sad/angry all at once about this. Things returning to normal when I had to do the virtual consult and then the curbside visit. Sometimes I think maybe I shouldn't have taken her in at that time and she would receive better care now? Or, maybe things still would have happened and I would be wishing I had taken her in during the pandemic after all.

I realized I had some of the dates my visits wrong and that everything declined a lot faster than I thought. I had the virtual consult April 14th then the actual exam April 22nd. Sometimes I think...what if this was all just IBD and they misdiagnosed her? But she couldn't have had that much pain just from that? I find some solace reading other's stories about how their cats also had good bloodwork and that they wouldn't have known about the illness/cancer unless more detailed testing or even surgery was done. And then I think...maybe she was declining even longer than I thought but I didn't "see it".

It's so hard without my sweet girl who would always be in my lap. The weather is so nice now, she would've loved going out on her harness and chewing on the grass. I'll never forget that I did take her outside the evening before she died, so that she got to feel the sun and wind and chew some grass. There will never be another like her. I really thought I had several more years with her...

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