6 September 2010 – 13 April 2020
I lost my beautiful, big, tabby girl yesterday, Easter Monday, 13 April 2020. Her name is Roxy and I adopted her 8 years ago when she was 2. She was our regal queen. The boss. Cheeky. A character larger than life. She made us laugh in hysterics and left a few scars on our skin when she was a bit fed up, but she was everything to my son and I. Roxy was our identity. She was synonymous with us. It was just the three of us for 8 years.
Yesterday morning, I went downstairs to give my 2 cats their breakfast. No one greeted me as they normally do. Immediately I knew something was wrong, and my heart sunk. I walked around in a panic calling out to them (Roxy & Whisper), only to find my big dear queen lying down in the middle of an open space, and Whisper with a puffy tail scampering about, confused as to why Roxy was down.
I raced over to Roxy and screamed out for my son to come quickly. He came down, as did my mother, and I have no memory of what I said from there.
I opened the garage door to see if it would encourage Roxy up, but my poor girl couldn't. It was at this moment I witnessed the traumatic sight of my cat being completely paralysed from the waist down. She tried to get up, but only her front half could muster the strength, then she collapsed again. She appeared alert still, so I know she was confused and frightened. I was horrified and instantly began howling for my girl, raced upstairs to find a Vet that was open. I was hyperventilating and could barely dial the number.
I picked up my girl, who is so heavy (she's a big tabby cat), and placed her gently into the cat cage, and her back legs were hanging behind her. I was in shock. I tried to manoeuvre them into some position that was comfy for her. On the way to the Vet, Roxy was struggling to breathe, and was lying down, half giving up/half trying to remain in control. It was horrific to see, but my son and I were with her, comforting her in the ways we knew she loved. I kept telling her that “mummy's here, mummy's here”.
When we got her to the Vet, they took her in and gave her pain killers immediately. It felt like a lifetime before a Vet contacted me, as we waited outside. And the news was gut-wrenching. My baby girl had Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) which had caused her a secondary condition called Feline Aortic Thromboembolism (FATE). This sickness is considered "silent" as it's asymptomatic. It is a traumatic, sudden, confronting, and devastating occurrence for the cat and the family. The walls of her little heart had thickened, causing heart disease (which had no symptoms), and this created a blood clot which dislodged from her heart and travelled down her aorta and lodged where the (narrower) arteries to her hind legs split off. It’s called their “saddle”. This resulted in no blood flow to her hind legs, causing complete paralysis, hardened muscles, purple nailbeds, and cold toes. It is an extremely painful condition.
It took me a lot of reiterating and questioning to the Vet to comprehend what was happening. I couldn't take it all in; the mental imagery of Roxy being paralysed, the guilt (was it something I did so stupidly wrong to my baby?), not being able to manage the emotions, the abruptness of it, and the decision that had to be made.
My poor son was in shock and devastated. He was about 7 when we both adopted Roxy, and she was the third star in our trio of love. It was us three through thick and thin. We experienced so much together, and Roxy was always so placid and accepting of all the changes.
I consulted, through swollen and teary eyes with my son for his input. He trusted me and he trusted the Vet, and he said we should do what is best for Rossi (one of Roxy's nicknames).
So, with a sound understanding of the incredibly dire severity of Roxy's case and how poor and bleak the prognosis is, we made the heart-wrenching decision to do what would be the best option for Roxy.
I had to sign a form to consent to Roxy being put down, and I couldn't sign it for about 20 seconds because my arm had seized up. I physically struggled to write. I was crying and my reality was going arse-up, all too fast.
To make it even worse, only one person could be with Roxy as she passed away. The coronavirus restrictions didn't allow for both my son and I to say goodbye together. It made me nauseous. I asked my son what he would prefer, and he cried and said I should go in, because I am Roxy's mummy.
Roxy passed away quickly and peacefully, with me close to her face and talking to her, gently scratching her scruff and patting her shoulders like she enjoyed. When her body was finally at peace, all the fluid trapped in her lungs poured from her mouth and began to froth. There was a large amount of fluid. It had blood in it. She urinated, and her heckles raised and her tail puffed up, even though she was not alive. It was traumatic and I am struggling greatly.
I will never get the imagery of those few, fast hours from my mind. They haunt me and weaken my soul. My body collapses and I cry and cry. I vomited the day she died, because it was just too much in too little a time. It was visually distressing and sudden.
I am at a loss as to how to handle what has happened, because it happened suddenly and with no symptoms. My girl was still healthy-looking and shiny and was perfectly fine on Sunday 12 April. I am devastated. I am worried about my depression dipping. The coronavirus meant that we can't receive support. My son couldn't be with his beloved cat as she passed away, the lovely Vet couldn't give me a hug, my sister couldn't hug me, I couldn't hold her baby boy, my beautiful nephew, my son and I can't have a special viewing of Roxy to say a proper goodbye, and now I can't get the support I need for my mental health. It is all digital. I prefer in-person.
Has anybody else experienced HCM and subsequent FATE in their companion animal? They say 25% of cats have the genes for HCM. Whether they will then experience FATE as a symptom of HCM is unknown to me.
Thank you so much for your time reading our sad story. Rest Peacefully my girl.