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03/01/2003 Entry: "bill, 2:30am"

My cat is dying.

Her name is Bill, Bill the cat, and she's 25 years old. I've had her for a little more than 16 of those years. Right now, I honestly don't know if she's going to be around for another day and I really have no idea how to handle that.

Let me jump back a few years to about 96. I was living in Gainesville, actually just a few months before I moved to Chicago, and she got sick. Real sick. The vet gave her a 60% chance of living at that point. Something with her liver. She'd basically stopped eating and was just wasting away. Right around this time I'd just gotten a loan for $2,000 to put into the record label I was running at that point. A week later after spending night and day at the vet, plus all kinds of tests, and an $1,800 bill later, she started eating again. She recovered 100%, the label never did. It was for the best.

The vets said that in cases like that there's nothing to do except keep them comfortable, and hope for the best. If she won't eat, she won't eat and sure you could hook her up to all kinds of food pumps and whatever but who want's to do that? Not me, and I can't see Bill being too fond of it either. Anyway she bounced back and all was well.

Since then she's had her ups and downs. Always coming around full circle to be the picture of health. When I move, and take her to a new vet, they never believe how old she is. I usually have to provide medical transcripts from previous vets to proove it and they are shocked. I've heard more than once that she's in better shape than most cats half her age.

About three weeks ago she stopped eating again. She's started and stopped a few times since then but she's eating less and less, if even at all right now. I've never seen her this bad, even back in Gainesville. I'm torn because on one hand I want to take her to the vet so they can make her better, but on the other hand last time this happened they said it was alll luck and there's nothing they could really do to help. That week that she was at the vet in Gainesville was one of the hardest things I've ever had to deal with. I would go vist her and she was in this little metal cage with a bunch of other cats bunked up around her, and I kept expecting the phone to ring at any second with the news that she'd finally given in. Right now I can't stomach the thought of her dying someplace like that. Not after everything we've been though. It seems like such a cop out at this point. Plus, I feel like if nothing else I at least owe it to her to be around and take care of her to the end. I can't just dump her off on someone else.

I don't think I've cried as hard as I am right now my whole life.

I don't even know where I'm headed with this. I'm just writing it so I'll stop thinking about it. it's 2:55am and I can't sleep. I certainly can't even begin to hope that I could explain how much she means to me. I'm sure anyone who has a pet they care about in a situation feels this way, that doesn't make it any easier.

Replies: 6 people with an opinion

I'm so sorry you're going through this :(

My 20 year old cat is dying too, and I just did a search to see how long he can live without eating - that's how I stumbled on your blog.

My cat too is still drinking water, he wakes about every hour, gets some water, and once a day or so uses his litter box.

He's been getting progressively worse for the last week, and is now on day 2 of eating nothing, not even warmed baby food.

The post from dave is very reassuring - I've been torn between letting him die naturally and having him euthanized :(

I don't want him to suffer, and I've never known anyone to have a pet live this long and die naturally.

It's hard losing a pet, my best to you and your kitty.


Posted by Deb @ 03/05/2003 04:31 PM PST

Have no regrets. Love as much as you can, as long as you can. I am happy that your cat means as much to you as she does, even though it does hurt... Animals are so special.

Posted by stacia @ 03/03/2003 08:21 PM PST

Sorry to hear about your cat. I had a cat go through that when i was a young child. Look at it this way, she had good long life with you, and she will die with you, feeling happy and at peace. I'm sure you gave her the best care possible, forgoin a business for her wellfare, which is commendable. Not many of us humans would give up that much for a mere pet. people say animals have no feelings. But i think that's a hoarde of crap. You took care of her physical health, she took care of your mental health. We ask animals to come into our homes and give us companionship, and uncircumstantial love, and in turn we should give them the best life to our fullest abilities. You did that by providing her food, great healthcare, and a safe, loving environment. I know she's very grateful for that. There's nothing more that can be medically done for her, she's reached her time. But you can give her love, and watch her, make sure she keeps eating and drinking, montor her stool, and if she gets overcome with pain, and/or refuses any food, it might be time to have her put down, so she doesn't suffer. Nowadays most vets will let you hold her while they give her that painless injection. I used to work as a Veterinary technician, i've seen and helped countless people mourn the loss of a beloved family member. It hurts now, and even though it may seem that she'd be gon forever when she does pass, trust me, she's still there, like a gaurdian, watching over the human that gave her the best possible life.

Posted by Colt @ 03/03/2003 05:03 AM PST

Reading the fark comments. Unless she is complaining of pain, don't have her put down. If you have to do that, stay with her, for both of you. But you shouldn't have to do that. It really is a peaceful quiet process. If you want to hear about my cat, or talk about it, e-mail me. (And, again, do not let her wander off if she is an in/out door cat.)

Posted by dave @ 03/01/2003 10:33 PM PST

dave, thanks. that really helps. She's still drinking, but I'll keep that in mind.

Posted by sean @ 03/01/2003 02:12 PM PST

Sorry about your cat. Keep her comfortable, dab water on her mouth to keep her mouth from drying out if she has stopped drinking water, and don't let her wander off.

For what it is worth, dying naturally this way is not painful, and her body is shutting itself down in a very orderly and peaceful way. Just keep her comfortable, and pet her and talk to her.

My cat did this when she was 17 years old, took about three weeks. It is sad, but I would rather lose a pet than never have the pet. It is part of the deal of having a pet. You pretty much know that you are going to outlive it. It is still worth it.


Posted by dave @ 03/01/2003 12:07 PM PST

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