I had Buddy euthanized on Monday, February 16th at around 9:20 a.m.
At which stage of pet loss grief do you feel you are currently at?
I am experiencing almost all of the stages at varying times. Buddy departed less than two weeks ago so it is all still very raw. I was in denial during Buddy's final week here when the vet told me that he could experience sudden death at any time. I heard what the vet said, but I didn't absorb it. I just thought that we had a plan in place for Bud's recovery - the kd cat food, the aluminum hydroxide, and the sub-q fluids -so of course he'll get better and we'll be on our way!
But Buddy started to crash the next morning, Friday, Feb 12th when he lost the use of his legs. I was shocked and despairing when I saw him fall off the kitchen counter and onto his side. I swept him up and placed him in a soft place, but it was so painful to see him this way. I was in shock when the substitute vet recommended euthanasia because Buddy's temp was low and his kidneys had shut down. He crashed so suddenly and was taken away so quickly just when I thought we were on the road to recovery that I couldn't believe he was at this point - and I would never see him or hold him again - and he wouldn't make it through the winter to enjoy spring which is what I really wanted for him.
Then after two shots, he was gone. I still wasn't sure he was dead because he was still warm even though his head and neck hung down and needed support. I've been doing a lot of I guess what one would call bargaining and questioning if only I had gotten him on the iv fluids on Thursday, Feb 12th - he would be here with me. If only I had understood what his symptoms were earlier. I have a lot of guilt for not picking up on his symptoms and for not getting him help earlier.
As of this week, I've been feeling anger at my job for not being more flexible so that I could have gotten Buddy to the vet earlier. I'm angry with myself for not getting my priorities right and privileging Buddy's health over my job. I should have just gone in to work late and not worried about getting into trouble. I'm angry that the vet didn't go over iv therapy vs sub-q therapy with me so that I could have made a better choice and made sure Buddy got iv fluids - so he could have had some relief and some happy time left on this earth.
I'm angry with myself for not appreciating Buddy more while he was here and again for not being pro-active enough to save him. And that I let the substitute vet talk me into euthanasia (while the reg vet was on vacation). I think chronic renal failure is such a cruel disease. I get some relief when I look back at old photos of Buddy when he was healthy, but at other times, I feel anguish, pain in my chest, and chlaustrophobic, like I have to get to a window to get relief from the pain.
Patricia and Buddy's Story so far
I met Buddy in Astoria, Queens, New York in early winter 1996. He was a stray who was huddled with several other strays for warmth. It was around January and bitter cold. I used to pass these kitties each day on my way to work. They weren't kittens, but juveniles. I caught all of them and tried to rehabilitate them all for adoption, but most were unfortunately too feral and dysfunctional to be medicated and/or adopted. But Buddy was amenable-a great patient, and a great personality - which saved him and endeared him to me forever.
I brought him to the local animal control center to be checked medically, but once they had him, they didn't want to release him to me citing that he had an upper respiratory infection and an eye infection, and they had plenty of healthy animals for me to adopt. I argued that I didn't want another, but wanted Buddy and he was the one I rescued. They refused until a woman who was known to the stray cat rescue community and to this center vouched for me that I would be responsible and a good caregiver for Buddy.
So from then on he was my little Bud. I gave him this name because he was sooo friendly with everyone and would join whatever company was over and would sit on their laps and befriend them. He would also sleep on my lap when I would get home from work and type my college papers into the small hours of the morning. I have two other cats, one whom Buddy fostered as this second cat was also a stray from Astoria, but with a nervous temperment and a real cry baby. Buddy always calmed him, licked and groomed him, befriended him and slept with him. This took some of the burden off of me and allowed me to get a good night of sleep without wailing meows. The second little guy, Buddy's foster brother is still with me.
Within a couple of years we all moved to Connecticut for a more peaceful lifestyle and a house with a yard! Then we moved another three times before finally settling in the house we're in now. Buddy loved the outdoors and I would let him out during the day sometimes and get him in in the evening. He did have a few brushes with ticks which we remedied. Wherever we lived, he would visit the neighbor, walk into their house if the door was open. My previous landlords were so used to him that they would let him in and out during the day while I was at work. Another time, while I was having tea with a next door neighbor, Buddy jumped on their screen door because he wanted to get in while I was there and he wouldn't give up!
When I would go for a walk, he would follow. When I would pull up to the driveway, if he was outside on the porch, he would trundle over and greet me. He always wanted physical contact. Even if I were sitting in a position that wouldn't comfortably allow him to sleep on my lap, he would still squeeze his way in and position himself on my lap. If I went upstairs, he would follow, downstairs, there he'd be. When he was outside and realized that I was outside gardening or sitting on the porch, he would run over and sit with me on the porch or in the garden.
He seemed pretty happy and healthy until about three weeks ago. I took in a male kitten in the middle of 2007 and Buddy didn't take to him especially when Sparky (new kitten) went through puberty. Buddy started spraying and urinating around the house which was difficult. Once Sparky was neutered, this behavior seemed to dissipate, but Buddy wouldn't share a litter box with Sparky, so I got Buddy his own. And not too long after, Buddy was urinating a lot and drinking water out of the faucet. I attributed this to a behavioral problem rather than a health problem as Sparky would mimic Buddy and jump up to drink from the faucet too.
If Buddy's box wasn't pristine, he would urinate next to the water tank in the basement. Again, I didn't think there was a health issue going on. Buddy was also losing weight, but everyone assured me that it was due to old age as Buddy was almost 13 - so I thought they were right because otherwise, Buddy seemed healthy, happy, energetic, eating and of course drinking a lot. I just kept buying litter and keeping his box clean. Then by the week of February 2nd, I thought he was getting too thin and that I should bring him to the vet. His appt was scheduled for Feb 9th at noon.
They noticed his weight loss, did some tests for diabetes, kidneys, and thyroid. They found that he was hyperthyroid and had a heart murmur. But the biggest issue was that they suspected he had kidney disease. They had to wait for the results which were on my answering machine the next day but which I didn't get until after 5:30 pm and their office closes by 5:00. So there was phone tag for a couple of days and I was able to squeeze out of work 45 minutes early to get Buddy to the vet by Thursday, Feb 12th before they closed. The vet told me that Buddy would need iv fluids & could be picked up the next morning after 8:00. I told the vet that I had to be at work at 8:00 & could I pick up Bud earlier. But no one would be there as they don't open till 8:00.
Here is where I should have gotten my priorities straight. I should have just gone into work late. I take care of an alzheimers patient so trying to get coverage or go into work late or get out early is very problematic. But still, I should have found a way. The doctor gave me sub q fluids to take home and administer to Buddy instead. I was so ignornant that I didn't know the difference between sub-q fluids and iv fluids - that iv fluids are much more life giving. So when he gave me the bag of fluids, the aluminum hydroxide and the kd food, I thought that a good plan was set up and that Buddy would be on the mend.
And the vet said that he'd be away until Feb 23 at which time I should bring Buddy back. I felt assured and confident that Buddy would be in good shape. And he ate the food so again I felt assured.
The next morning, he started to crash. When he tried to jump up onto the counter, he couldn't quite make it so I helped him. He lost his bearings and fell off the counter and was unable to stand up. I scooped him up and put him in a soft, safe place where he wouldn't fall He took to lying on his side. He could no longer drink from the faucet or from a bowl, but would only watch the water run. I should have brought him back to the vet right away, but due to ignorance and lack of experience, I waited to see how he would be that evening. He wouldn't eat the kd food, but in order to get him to eat anything, I offered him a little bit of ground turkey - and he ate a small amount only.
Surprisingly, he was on his feet again for a short bit and tried to get outside when I brought some wood into the basement. But then he couldn't walk again and seemed generally weaker. He stopped urinating completely. His eyes became somewhat slanted and weren't as bright and open as they used to be. I kept giving him sub q fluids which was easy because Buddy was a very cooperative patient. I also gave him water down the throat with a syringe. Don't know if that was a mistake or not. Since I couldn't get him to eat, I probably mistakenly gave him baby formula down the throat with the syringe because I wanted to get some nutrition into him. But he threw it up.
I called the emergency vet number on Sunday the 15th of February at which time the vet told me that Buddy's kidneys were probably shutting down. He thought that Buddy might have to be euthanized or possibly iv fluids - depending. Buddy was lying down most of the time now, but would raise his little shakey head when I would stroke him or talk to him. I was just despondent seeing him go down so fast like this. He would occasionally breathe harder than usual with his mouth open which the vet said was Buddy's way of trying to rid his body of toxins.
When I got Buddy to the vet again on Monday, February 16th, the replacement vet took Buddy's temperature and heart rate - which looked uncomfortable for Buddy as it seemed he just wanted to lay down on his side. The vet said that Bud's temp was lower and that his heart rate was lower and that he thought it was time. The only thing that could help Bud would be dialysis or a kidney transplant which couldn't be done. On the way to the vet office, despite Buddy's illness, he was aware I think because he raised his head(I didn't put him in a carrier - but rather had him in a blanket) to look out the window because he knew he wasn't at home now and that somthing was up, then he put his head back down.
I was bringing him to his death and he trusted me so I hope I did the right thing especially since I didn't do right by him earlier or he'd still be here for a little while anyway. After enduring the indignity and discomfort of having a thermometer up his butt and being handled clinically, I had to sign a paper, after which they gave him a sedative, and gave us a few minutes. It was very distressing to realize where we were when just a week ago, Buddy had kidney disease but seemed salvagable and who thought of death around the corner? Then they came in, shaved his arm and injected the needle.
I stroked Buddy and told him that I love him and that I was so sorry for not doing better for him. I kept apologizing to him because he could have lived longer had I been more aware and pro-active. The vet had to then shave the other arm and give another injection, and then that was it, no more heartbeat. And Buddy's eyes were more open than they had been, but they were empty now. I couldn't believe he was gone, poor Buddy. I lifted him to his blanket and his head and neck were limp and hung down, so I had to support his head. I wrapped him in the blanket.
With sobbing tears, I thanked the staff for their sensitivity. I had Buddy's body in the blanket on my lap on the way home. Some fluid came from somewhere on to my leg. It didn't bother me at all because it came from Buddy and I love him. He is now buried in my garden. I have a bluestone slab there to be carved and some roses. My mother put some holy water on the grave site today. I'm glad that he is buried here because I visit his grave before and after work every day. I miss him so much. Thank you for this website. It has been very helpful.
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