Feeble Knees

Thursday, August 25, 2005

But I Don't Want to Let Go

It's getting to be decision time regarding our kitty, the best kitty ever.

We've been doing everything we can to keep him going despite the kidney failure and to give him quality of life. He gets extra fluids subcutaneously a couple times a week, which basically involves hooking him up to an IV bag and plumping him up with sterile fluids under the skin. He tolerates the whole thing with great patience, and never gives us any trouble or complaints.

We've been giving him Pepcid A/C, ground up in his food to help ward off ulcers as the kidney failure progresses. He gets to eat pretty much whatever he likes, and he's developed a real fondness for Gerber strained ham baby food. Also V-8 juice. And yogurt. Whatever he likes, he gets. Last night he got real chunk light tuna (the people food kind) for dinner. Then I caved and gave him some more for breakfast this morning. That's one thing you can say for him, when tuna is on the menu, there's nothing wrong with his appetite.

But things are starting to break down. The arthritis is causing him to limp quite noticeably now, though he's still as determined as ever to get where he wants to go. But he's slowing down. We know we're nearing the end.

Yesterday the vet mentioned the E word: euthanasia. Up to this point she hasn't said it out loud, but yesterday she finally did. She said given where he's at, it would now be "a valid choice" for us to make. Either that or pain medication to make him comfortable for a little while longer.

I knew it was coming, we both did. But it doesn't make it any easier. I'm a bit of a mess. OK, no, I'm a total mess. Would that I was better equipped to be strong and handle it with dignity but I can't say that I am. At least I made it out of the vet's office without sobbing openly. Considering how I fell apart during the drive home, it was a minor victory I kept it together long enough to pay the bill and get to the car.

There will never be another kitty like him. He really *is* a family member, not just a pet. And he's been one of the best family members you could ever hope for: intelligent, longsuffering, gentle, loyal, loving, tolerant, comical, supportive, empathetic and affectionate.

Ok, so sometimes he's been known to drop nuclear stink bombs in the litter box, then refuse to bury them (I won't even get into the times he lackadaisically "misses" the box). And there's the tendency he had for a while to dribble toxic-smelling drool on peoples' laps. And there's that thing he has about insisting on water drawn fresh from the tap many multiple times a day. He can be somewhat demanding, in a cranky but charming old man kind of way. But a sweeter, more loving and loyal guy you'll never find.

We've been very lucky to be his people, and to be loved by him for so long.

It's been a tough month, a month of too much having to let go. My heart strains against the bonds of the present and longs for eternity - for Life and Love and a world without end...
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