Chandler, Arizona, United States
There's an old saying. If you don't want someone to join a crowd, you ask them, "If everyone were jumping off of a cliff, would you?" Well, I have. So my answer would be "Yes". True story.
Profile continued . . .
Sliver's Last Days...
with love from CRS @ 9:13 AM
this entry brought to you by tool, "intolerance"
The last two weeks have been a tiring, frustrated, sad blur, punctuated by moments of happiness. Thanksgiving was wonderful and went off without a hitch, and we had an enormous meal that everybody pitched in on, and I can't entirely say one person cooked more than the other. It was delightful, and huge, and I want to do it again next year.
Unfortunately, the day before, on Wednesday, we had to put my cat Sliver down. He was 18 years old.
He'd start dropping weight for the past year, but it was never too big a deal. He was just getting skinny, and it was not at a distressing rate. He is getting old, we said. I was concerned about his scratching at his ears but he didn't have fleas when we inspected him, and he never had redness or irritation.
We'd been telling Celest, our 9 year old, for the past year or so that she should appreciate this time with him because he didn't have much time left, and we said this a lot during the last five months. And not for any particular reason, other than he was getting old. I told her he might have a year left, maybe more. But he was getting on in age, and that his last days were going to come sooner rather than later. Celest spending quality time with the cat wasn't a difficult thing to request; Celest adored Sliver. She was always going and picking him up and putting him in her lap, to the point that I would think the cat would be annoyed if it weren't for the fact that he would immediately settle in and get comfortable there.
He'd gotten slower over the last couple months and started sleeping a lot, but again, it didn't seem so out of the ordinary; he was an old cat. And then, about two weeks before we had to put him down, he started losing weight drastically. Over a period of two weeks he became skin and bones, a frightening wraith of his former self, his furr losing its normal sheen. And it happened so quick. He also stopped using his litter box, and while we would find pee spots on the floor, particularly near the laundry basket, I wasn't finding so many of them as to explain where he was peeing during the entire day. His litter box was empty, and yet it wasn't as if we would one morning wake up and smell pee coming out from behind something like madness.
Furthermore, he wasn't pooping either, and that's something you never have to look hard for-- besides, Sliver has never pooped anywhere besides his box. And then, after a few days of this, I started noticing, indeed, he was pooping-- but they were tiny little pellets there in his box. They didn't used to be normal sized poops that slowly got smaller and smaller-- they were normal poops, simply nothing at all, and then finally he forced out tiny pellets, like a rabbit.
We're not exactly the type of family who can just afford to visit a vet on a whim, but when he had lost so much weight in a week and wasn't peeing, we knew we had to take him to the vet, yet at this point I was optimistic. He was eating every meal, and asking to be fed at feeding time. He seemed to be in a good mood, other than being generally sleepy. Something was definitely wrong, over a week he'd lost a lot of weight, wasn't going to the litter box, but things seemed like they might be fine. I was obviously prepared for the idea that medicating him might cost way too much and we might have to put him down anyway, but nothing seemed final. We just needed to wait for the next pay check, as the one that would have been coming up was already accounted for.
Then came the Sunday before Thanksgiving. He threw up immediately after eating. But what was worse was that his legs seemed to barely be moving. When he walked it was so incredibly slow, in this horrible, horrible limp. His forelegs stepped like normal, but his back legs were wobbly and barely in control.Oh God, I thought. We have to take him to the vet now.
The next day arrived. Over the previous day he had noticeably lost weight, which frightened me. On Sunday I was still thinking there might be a chance the doctor would have some medication for him. But this Monday, even though he still seemed in good spirits, still wanted to be fed at meal times, still sat up and smelled the air with interest when we ate something delicious and chicken-y, it was obvious that we had to do this now, and that there was no chance he could get better. I had planned on calling the vet first thing Monday regardless, but I had initially wanted a vet's opinion. This wasn't just going to be an appointment. His legs were practically non functional. He was sitting on the couch when I got home, and when I sat next to him he attempted to get up and sit on my lap and couldn't make it, and instead just rested his head on my leg. How in the hell he got up on the couch was beyond.Perhaps even worse, he had noticably lost weight since the previous day, which was something I had never observed before. He had lost a horrible amount of weight in the previous two weeks, but never had there been a point where I could say, I think you have lost weight since yesterday.
We made the appointment for Wednesday. We normally get paid on Thursday, but the company we work for regularly tries to pay us a day early on Thanksgiving, so we were able to afford it. In the room when the doctor came it was just Celest and I with the cat. Michelle would later ask me if it was a good idea to have Celest in the room, and I replied, how could we have said no? She would spend the rest of her life wishing she could've been in there, and she would get older and understand why, but she would still wish. She's 9, and she'll be 10 December 4th. She's old enough.
And she did not take it well. She bawled. And bawled. The whole day. I was honestly surprised at how poorly she took it. Of course I expected tears. I expected there would be tears all day. I expected screaming tears. I was not expecting screaming tears all day. It was horrible, like she herself as a sick animal slowly dying. She cried some the next day, in the morning, and was fine all day until bed time. And then the next day she was fine until bedtime. But I'm still surprised that here it is, two weeks later, and every night she's cried at bedtime. I know she's just a little girl, and what's more, this cat had been there her entire life. I knew she would take it poorly. But even Michelle started to get worried at how poorly our daughter was taking the death of our cat.
When I was looking at him Sunday, I was thinking, okay, there's still a chance. We might get there and the doctor might say, "Okay, here is a medication that costs fifty dollars a month. It'll help he go more regularly, and that's what's causing his legs to not work well. He's having horrible abdominal pain. Give him this." And we'd be able to afford fifty dollars a month. Sixty dollars a month. Maybe even a hundred, if we set aside a twenty five bucks from every paycheck for it. This was a thing we could do.
But by the following day, I was looking at my cat, resting his head on my lap, letting out a meek purr, and there was no longer a choice. When the doctor put him on the scale to weigh him he stood up, but then laid down because it didn't seem worth it to protest or get off the scale. He weighed five point two pounds. My mother was the person who had initially brought the cat home all those years ago, and he was really her cat, but she couldn't bring her with him when she made the move to Illinois six years ago, so when I called her to tell her when I'd made the decision she was crying so hard could barely decipher that the words she was trying to tell me was that she understood.
I called her when we got home the next day, after having come back from the trip to the vet, and told her simply that it was done, to which she said "Thank you." Things were difficult, so I said good-bye and hung up; the entire phone call was 40 seconds. I didn't want to bog her with detail because it was obvious the 24 hours had given her time to digest it and she was no longer put into crying fits with the information. I called her a week later and we talked about the holidays, and I decided to fill her in on the rest of how putting Sliver went, and when I decided that it had been long enough to tell her how little Sliver weighed, I found myself utterly overcome, and almost cried right there, a week later. I had thought enough time had passed for her to hear how little he weighed, but it turned out that not enough time had passed for me.
It's strange, now. Putting the cat down hurt, and was very painful, but I'd already put my cat Newt down 7 years prior, so the particulars of watching a pet be injected didn't get to me as badly as they did the first time. But it's still strange. I got Sliver when I was 15, and I am now 33-- I've had Sliver for more than half my life.