fernwitch
I had to make the hard decision for my kitty to go to sleep last Thursday :( He was almost  17 years old.

A year before I had to make this decision, he started getting recurring upper respiratory infections. A round of antibiotics would make it go away for a month or two, but then it would be back. We tried different antibiotics to see if we could get it to stop, but it would still come back eventually.

Then in July he got a lump on his neck. After a needle biopsy, it was discovered to be inflammatory tissue - but I believe this result may have been incorrect. Looking back now, I think it was cancer then, but tissues collected in the biopsy didn't show it. Either way, I knew already then that if it was cancer, I wouldn't want to put him through the experience of surgery or chemo treatment - he was already too old and frail and I knew it would have been more for me than for him.

He was put on prednisalone to treat the inflammation - but it's also the same treatment that would have been administered had the results come back cancer. Either way, he was being supported.

There was a mixup with his meds and for a while he was on the wrong prescription, and I thought I was going to lose him at the end of July. But we got on the right meds and he showed improvement.

I had a lot of hope that Tweak would pull out of it and I could have him around for a few more years. And for almost 2 months, he was back to feeling good - but the lump was still there, despite treatment. I tried to get it biopsied again, but they couldn't get a sample and said I should try again in a few weeks.

It suddenly started really growing, and I could see that he was becoming uncomfortable. I brought him to the vet on Wednesday, 10-14 for a checkup and to see if there was anything that could be done for him - maybe they could biopsy the lump? I think in my heart I knew what the answer was, but I really wanted something from the vet to say that he wasn't going to recover from this. She wouldn't even do a biopsy because she didn't think she could get a clean sample. I'm glad for that, actually, because I was in denial and I think it would have been unnecessarily painful and traumatic for him.

She did give him an antibiotic injection and send us on our way. I think she knew he wasn't long for this world, she only charged for the shot and not the exam. She said the injection would last 2 weeks - I was pretty sure he wouldn't last that long.

When we got home, I already felt in my heart I knew what was happening here. So I took him outside my apartment and we wandered through the leaves and along the bank of a creek. He hadn't been outside since I moved to my new apartment, it was suddenly like he was a new cat. Energetic, curious, happy to have grass under his feet. He drank water from the creek like a lion!

As soon as we got into the house, he was laying on his side in the same spot he had been lying for a week. Looking uncomfortable. Coughing and choking on his own saliva because the lump had started interfering with his throat.

He slept on my bed that night, the first time he had in weeks. I woke up in the middle of the night to him sitting next to my head, coughing and gagging, and even in my half awake state, I knew that I was probably going to have to make the decision that day. It was heartwrenching to hear him and I couldn't let him continue this way.

Thursday I went to work for an hour, long enough to talk to my boss and let her know that I wasn't going to be working, that I was going home and I probably wouldn't be in on Friday and why. My boss is awesome, she knows what it's like and she let me leave. I finished up some things from work while I was at home - there were some things that needed to get done, but at least I could do them with my kitty nearby.

Through the day he go worse and I started scrambling to call at-home euthanasia services. I wanted him to be comfortable and less stressed, and I also wanted my other pets to understand what was going on. The appointment was made for 7 PM, 10.15.2015.

I let him rest much of the day, but I pet and cuddled him and made sure he ate some food. I made salt-dough imprints of his paws - i didn't want to leave the house to buy clay, I wanted to spend as much time as possible with him, even if we were just in the same room. After his snack, he had some energy so I brought him outside again. Just as the day before, it was almost transformative - he was bright and energetic outside, but he did tire out after about an hour. Back in the house, he layed on his side and looked miserable.

The vet came and it was like time stood still. It seemed like I was laying with him on the floor forever. He was sedated, and it already felt like he was gone, before they even gave him the final injection. Afterwards, she checked his heartbeat and said he was gone. It felt like the whole thing had taken forever when in reality the vet had only been at my house for 15 minutes at this point.

I can't remember if I was petting him when he died :( I think I was. I was laying next to him, looking into his face and into his eyes, and I think I was petting his head when the lasts injection was given. I feel like this is important to me but the fact that I can't remember crushes me - I want to know that I was comforting him, even if he was so heavily sedated that he probably didn't know I was there.

I know at some point this memory will fade and I'll remember the good times. These past few days I've been looking at old pictures of him and thinking "Wow, his body really changed a lot in the last year." He had aged, yes, but some of it was the illnesses taking its toll. At the time of making the decision, it seemed impossible for me to say "Yes, please, put him out of his misery" but now looking back, I know that I couldn't have made any other decision.

Nothing I could have done was going to save him. All it would have done was extend his misery. I'm trying so hard to remember that I did the compassionate thing, but my mind still does a "what if I had done this instead of that?" And then the rational part of my brain has to remind myself of all the things that were stacked up against him - age, frailty, cancer, infection. Unhappiness.

My little man is out of pain now :( It hurts so much but I have to remember that it would have been selfish for me to hold on.

tweak collage 1.jpg 
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Wileykitten

I am so sorry for ur loss... Wow he is beautiful. Ur story hit home w me, I lost my Wiley to what we initially thought was chronic sinusitis but his breathing got very loud and he stopped eating, lost weight... the last day I brought him to the vet she said "at this point we have to believe its cancer" as he was also having intermitant nose bleeds. I know and understand all of the guilt, regret and "what if" thinking u are going thru and Im so sorry u have to face this loss. This is a very tough road and even at 9 weeks I am still struggling and crying all the time.
Please know that u will see ur precious Tweak again one day in Heaven.. Comforting words but hard when u want him with u now (((HUGS)))
but yes he is healthy and whole again and u made the right decision out of the immense love u have for him... and he loved u more than u could ever imagine. 17 years is amazing... Wiley was 15. Those are pretty long relationships and these animals get into our hearts and when they leave there is a huge void and emptiness. Please take ur time to grieve ur sweet Tweak... dont rush urself or let other people make u think uve had long enough or u need to get over it (sadly, there are people who will say those things) u do what u need to do to ease the pain... remember happy times like that walk how beautiful for both of u.... light a candle, make a memorial or scrapbook... something that u can go to and be with him, although he is always with u, watching over u... He will surprise u by leaving little things around for u to find and remember him and let u know hes not far... this will be hard at first but one day it will make u smile. He may even visit u in dreams... Hold onto his toys or favorite blanket and hold them and smell him when ur sad... U will feel him near i promise xoxo
Please know u are not alone and we all understand this unbearable pain u feel.... we are always here to listen (((HUGS)))

Praying God's Peace upon ur heart,

Love, Stacie

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Babydk3
OMG..your story could be mine-completely!!!  I had to put my Baby down last Tuesday.  The exact same thing happened-the lump on his neck, began growing.  The Vet said it was probably cancerous, but she didn't think he would survive surgery as he was so old and getting more frail by the day.
I held him at the end, he knows I loved him so very much, but he was beginning to suffer-exactly like you describe Tweak was and I couldn't bear for him to be in pain. 
Your heart is broken and you re-live his final moments.  I did too but after almost a week, those are beginning to fade and good memories are coming through.  I miss him so very much and I know you miss Tweak.  I had Baby for almost 19 years.  Such a hole is left behind, but just know they are waiting for us, happy and whole.
God Bless
Diane
Heaven is a happier place with my Baby on patrol, but Mama misses you so very much. I  Love you my Baby Boy.
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fernwitch
Thanks for the responses, Babydk3 and Wileykitten. It's interesting to see similar stories and is helpful towards helping me feel a bit more at peace with this decision. That is part of what bothers me so much is having to make the choice.

A couple times a day I have a thought of "what if?" and I have to remind myself again all the things that were plaguing him. It's like I'm starting to forget how sick he was, which is part of why I spelled out his story in such detail here - I feel like I needed to remind myself of how sick he was.  I picked up a copy of his medical records today, though, and got it in writing. In the vet's notes it says "too frail to sedate and get biopsy" and "suspected squamous-cell carcinoma or thyroid adenoma carcinoma".

Too frail to get a biopsy, too frail to pursue any kind of treatment, too frail and old for me to imagine heroic measures would do anything but prolong his misery. What was I going to do, let him choke or starve? My mother waited too long to put to sleep one of my beloved childhood cats, and I vowed that no animal in my care would get to that condition before I would intervene with mercy. With how he was declining, Tweak would have been that bad off by now.

The choice bothers me, yes, but what bothers me the most is not having him here :( As pet caretakers, we know we're going to outlive our charges. We try not to think about it, though it is inevitable. And I absolutely didn't allow myself to think about a life without Tweak until last week. Now it's my reality. My house doesn't feel the same. I have a dog, another cat and a bird to take care of, but the last two days I've gone to work and it's been hard to come home. I try to distract myself with music on the drive, but as soon as I open my apartment door and I only see 3 faces greeting me instead of 4, I am sobbing so hard I have to sit on the floor.

But I'm sure you two (and others) understand these feelings and have probably had them yourself.

My friends and boyfriend have been great, distracting me just enough at just the right times. But ultimately no one I can talk to has had this experience before. My mom and most of my friends just aren't as attached to animals as I am. My best friend and boyfriend haven't experienced the loss of a pet in their adult lives. That's a big part of why I'm here - so I can share my feelings and read about the feelings of others who were as deeply attached to their pets and have experienced something similar.
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fernwitch
Cleaning is a way for me to keep busy, usually. There are things in my house that desperately need cleaning, too. But I don't want to clean :( I feel like I would be getting rid of him.

There's cat food on the walls of my bathroom - a place I used as a sick room for Tweak off and on in the weeks leading up to his death. I was annoyed when I first saw it, but didn't bother with it at the time because I figured it would be better/easier if I just waited until he felt better to clean it up. He didn't get better :(

There are washcloths and towels that I used to clean up his face and fur. He would make a mess eating that last week or so and I figured if I cleaned him up, it would mean less grooming, work and hairballs for him. I don't want to wash this laundry, even though it's just drool and food covered towels.

I picked up his food dishes off the floor and had a breakdown. I don't want to put them in the dishwasher, I don't want to wash them, I put them on my dresser in my bedroom, just as the were.

I don't want to vacuum. Even though I can't tell his fur from the fur of my dog and other cat, I know that there will be a point when none of the hair on the floor or in my clothes are his. That's heartbreaking.

The one thing I've been able to get myself to do is change the litterboxes because my other cat needs that.

I feel so silly... But at the same time just the thought of cleaning out these things make me breakdown crying.
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ahartofilis
Hello,
     I am sorry for the loss of your beautiful Tabby Tweak. His markings are gorgeous. I had a Tabby girl years ago and it brings back the memory of what wonderful felines they truly are. He was obviously so very special to you. I know how very difficult it is when we must make the decision to let them go. I had to do the same thing when my canine companion Coco was diagnosed with bone cancer. I do believe that we did what was best for them at the time. Still it is a traumatic thing to have to do. Please know that your feelings are normal and there are many here that have been through the same heart wrenching experience.
                 My thoughts are with you and I hope that you find comfort and healing here in the days ahead........................Please take care.........Tweak will always know how very much you loved him!...........Sincerely, Andrea, Coco's Mom
         
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Wileykitten
Never feel silly holding onto things that remind u of ur babies.... we all do and sadly no one outside of this site will understand that. I have fur on my bathroom wall from Wiley waiting for me to get out of the sho0wer and nose and paw prints on certain windows we used to look out together. Fur on the curtains and my favorite hoodie.. I am not washing anything. The hoodie I was told if I use a firm piece of foam, the hair will come off and then I can pull it off the foam so im going to save that and touch it whenever i need to feel him. I even found a new vaccuum bag he slept on has some of his hair so I wont use it, i just put it away. His favorite toy is on a shelf but the catnip banana I gave him for hius last birthday Im sure smells like him so I let the other cats play with it... if it starts to get a tear I will take it away and put it w the other one. I am still a mess because I cant find the first toy I bought him, a little bear made of green sparkle balls. Its in my house somewhere... I keep hoping I will find it.
Im so sorry for the pain u are all feeling... I feel it too.
My soul feels like it has been ripped from my body and I dont know how to move on.

Prayers of peace for u,
Love, Stacie
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fernwitch
It's been one week since my little guy went to sleep. It still feels so shocking. I know he had been sick, but I really thought he had turned a corner. I really hoped that he would bounce back. I feel like I had to make the decision twice. First, to allow myself to really see how sick he was and erode away my hope for his recovery that was allowing him to suffer. Then actually making the decision to call and make the appointment.

I had to destroy my hope. It wasn't allowing me to see that he wasn't going to get better. It was making excuses for why the lump in his throat was there. It was blindly clinging to the idea that he rallied so many times, why wouldn't he rally now? My hope, and the measures I took to try to make my hope come true, were the only things left keeping him alive. I was giving him the antibiotics staving off (but not curing) his respiratory infections and the prednisalone that was slowing the lumps growth, but no longer stopping it. I was bringing him to the vet to be examined and i some cases, poked. If it weren't for my doting, he wouldn't have eaten probably at all that last week. If not for my intervention, he wouldn't have been able to hold on as long as he did. I had to ask myself finally how long I was willing to let him suffer before I was going to admit to myself that he wasn't going to get better.

Making the call and setting the appointment for your friend's death is a surreal experience. I found myself not being able to find someone who would come out that day to do it, I was only finding appointments for the next day. "Do you have any appointments that are sooner? Today?" My god, did that really just come out of my mouth? Do I really want him to leave sooner? No, I didn't want him to leave at all, but I was pretty sure I couldn't stand one more day of seeing him like that. I called around until I was finally able to make the appointment.

I swear that I felt him leave his body. Laying next to him, staring into his eyes, I didn't want to see when she gave him that last injection, but I think I felt when it happened anyway. It felt almost like an invisible shockwave and suddenly there was a different energy to the room. I have only told two people this. I also have felt like I've heard him around the house - the day after he left, a cough coming from the spot he had sat on the floor for a week before his death, when my other cat was on he other side of the room. I swear I heard his raspy meow a few days later while I was getting Krillin's breakfast. I have gone back and forth between only sleeping a few hours and sleeping for hours and hours during inappropriate times, like I slept through 2 movies at the drive in with my friends and a visit from my best friend. I haven't dreamt at all this week, or if I did, I can't remember my dreams so I don't know if my little guy has tried to visit me at all....


I miss him so much :( And now once again I have to finish getting ready for work and put my mask on for the day. I feel blessed to have supportive friends, a boss who really knows what it's like (she just had to put her cat to sleep last year), and this place to vent to. Supportive or not, I can't really talk to my boss in the depth that I'd like to due to our professional relationship, and know my friends don't really understand what I'm going through, here. They just haven't had the experience recently enough or haven't had the level of attachment to pets that I've had.

Thanks for listening and for offering messages of support. I hope we can all find some sort of level of peace so we can carry on with our lives.
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fernwitch
And today the crying started before I even made it to the door of my apartment after getting home from work. Exactly one week to the day, there were 3 sympathy cards in my mailbox.

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fernwitch
Dear Tweak,

Two weeks ago today, I was saying goodbye to you. Not a day has gone by where I didn't think about you, miss you, or cry over your absence. I love you so much.

This house has not been the same without you. It feels weird to feed your brother and not see you quietly waiting for your bowl. Coming home and not seeing your face has been so hard. Knowing that you'll never leap up into my lap or lay down next to me in my bed, purring in advance of your petting - it's hard to reconcile this in my brain. How can this be real?

Krillin looks for you, I think. He was always vocal, but now it seems like he is constantly calling out. He doesn't seem to be happy about not being able to steal your food anymore. He lets the dog get close without protesting now - I think because he needs a friend.  Never thought I'd see the day.

I've recovered somewhat from that intense feeling of guilt for having to decide for you when the time was right to leave. Without you here, it has opened my eyes to all the effort I was putting in to your care. It's become so clear that the only reason why you were hanging on as long as you were was because of my love and my will to see you recover. You tried your best - you rallied for two months! In the end, I knew you weren't going to survive treatment, even if we could identify what was wrong with you. You were so weak. And I couldn't see you like that anymore.

I've been looking at your photos and remembering how you used to look, all fat and furry. How happy you used to be. I want to try to remember these times the best, because you did have an amazing life. You walked 5 miles to my house after choosing me. You showed no fear of dogs. You loved kids. Everyone loved you. I wish you could have lived another 17 years with me.

I love you, Mr. Cat.

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fernwitch
Dear Mr. Tweak,

November 15, it has been 1 month since you've been gone. I think about you every day. I don't cry as much as I did, but sometimes the fact that you're gone hits me hard all over again. I still feel like sometimes I hear you or see you. The other day I was making chicken noodle soup, and with Krillin at my feet, I thought I saw out of the corner of my eye a certain brown tabby come into the kitchen to beg for chicken. I left a pizza on the kitchen counter and thought I heard you eating it - of course it wasn't you, I don't know what I heard :(  I could never leave any food on the counter with you around. Food thief! But I miss you trying to steal my pepperonis, even if it was annoying.

I felt like I was understanding a bit more about why you had to leave, when suddenly Krillin became depressed about you being gone. Then I regressed to being a raw nerve again, because I couldn't explain to him why you were never coming back, I could just try to help him feel better, which wasn't working. I brought him to the vet and we ended up in the exam room you had been in a dozen times this year. I exploded into tears and couldn't believe I was back here already. I was so worried Krillin was sick, but he's just now starting to eat again. If it weren't for him and Spirit, I don't know if I could have made it through this. Having other animals to care for has kept me going, kept me healing.

We miss you a lot :( Sundays like today are so hard because this was our day to cuddle and relax. It was a day I could lavish you attention before the workweek would start. I know that you're not in pain anymore, and you lived a long, full and happy life.... But there's so much that I would give up just to have you back here. I love you Mr. Cat.
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