Feed on

The past 24 hours have been surreal. I unexpectedly had to put Patch to sleep this morning.

Over the past month or two Patch had slowly been losing weight and being more reserved. I always attributed this to Felix bullying her, since he was getting big enough to push her out of the way at her food bowl and would play rough with her. Whatever she was doing, he had to be right there. I thought I was making progress, I gave her food in the bedroom and trained him to leave her alone while she ate. I sprayed him with a water bottle when he played rough with her. I separated them during the day while I was at work to see if that helped, and spent extra time with her alone. I was trying different wet foods and was succeeding in getting her to eat a little meat with the gravy she always loved to lap up. I generously gave her treats which she would always eat, hoping the extra calories would help her gain weight. I was so excited when one night when I was able to coax her into playing, she hadn’t been that playful since getting Felix!

Day-to-day she would always meow-nyaaaah at me as usual, hop up and drink from the sink while I was getting ready in the morning, go out on the balcony, hop in bed, sit on the couch with me, and come out to see my visitors, so it was hard to suspect that anything else was wrong. The only thing different was that she walked a little more cautiously and was in her cat bed more, which is where she usually retreated when the kitten was playing.

Then last week I couldn’t get her interested in treats. Her ears would perk up and she’d come to me when I’d say “Patch, treats!” but she didn’t do more than sniff them. I rarely saw her at the food dish, and I could barely get her to eat more than a tablespoon of gravy at a time from her food. Saturday afternoon I wanted to get to the bottom of it so I made an appointment at the DVM for Monday morning.

Yesterday (Monday) morning the vet agreed she was in rough shape, took some blood for testing, and gave her some antidepressants to help stimulate her appetite and administered some LRS for dehydration. We discussed the possibility of inserting a feeding tube as a last resort if the bloodwork was clean. As soon as I took her home and let her out, she started eating a good size dollop of the A/D pâté they gave me (and she has never showed interest in pâté food). That was very promising.

I had left her alone in the bedroom while I went to work so Felix wouldn’t bother her after the vet visit. When I came home she looked like she hadn’t moved all day long. She hadn’t eaten anything nor could I get her interested in food again. I sat on the bed and put her on my lap, she just laid there resting her head on my leg. This was unusual too since she very rarely laid on my lap. I stayed there with her for a couple of hours and in the meantime I had missed some frantic phone calls from the vet.

The bloodwork came back and it showed she was extremely anemic and there was no sign that she was generating any red blood cells. The vet referred me to another hospital and urged me to go right then, as she may need an emergency blood transfusion and would need the help of an internal medicine team to figure out what was wrong.

Around 9 PM I took Patch to Seattle Veterinary Specialists. After examining her and reviewing test results with an internist, the new diagnoses was very bleak. Something had stopped her bone marrow completely and something was destroying her red blood cells. There were four possible diagnosis for the loss: it could be FIP, a gastrointestinal ulcer, neoplasia, or an immune system deficiency. If it was one type of infection, it could be treated with antibiotics but she’d have it forever and it could flare up again. They said none of these were really a strong fit based on her symptoms, it would take more tests to confirm. Unfortunately, the tests would take several days, if not weeks, to confirm. She’d need a blood transfusion, hospital stay, ultrasounds, and a wide variety of treatments to make it that long. Worse yet, even if correctly identified three of those would be terminal and nothing would guarantee her marrow would start working again. On her own, she would only have a few days.

I couldn’t bear the thought of putting her through a bunch of work and stress just to lose her later. The vet said I didn’t have to do anything right then, I could take her home and decide what to do. I decided to bring her home to have one last night with her to say goodbye. The day started off so different, and now this is how it was ending. I curled up on the bed with her, talked to her, and cried all night long. At this point she was not moving beyond just rolling to lay on her other side. After a couple of hours she still seemed restless so I gave her some of the pain meds they gave me. She laid her head down and slept the rest of the night. I wondered when I’d be taking her back the next day.

This morning (Tuesday) I woke up and she was in even worse shape. She hadn’t moved, she was just sprawled out flat on the comforter not making any effort to remain upright. I was afraid she had already died since she didn’t initially respond to me saying her name or petting her. She finally perked up a bit, but it was clear she was exhausted and didn’t have long. Picking her up, she was completely limp and didn’t offer any resistance. I got dressed and took her back to SVS because I knew it would be a quiet environment and I could get in quickly. She said a few deep throaty “nyaaaaas” on the way to the truck but otherwise didn’t move much. She laid limp in my arms as the doctor administered the drugs. She went quickly and quietly.

It’s been really hard. She was my buddy that kept me company, always laying with me when I was working, sleeping next to me, exploring everything around her. Always well behaved, soft and delicate. When I left the hospital I broke down crying in the parking lot when I reached in my pocket for my keys and felt her collar, still warm from her wearing it ten minutes earlier.

It all feels so sudden. One day she’s pawing at a string, not showing any signs of distress, and now she’s gone. In retrospect, it may not have been behavioral issues leading to her weight loss, she may have been ill for quite some time, or maybe both. It’s possible the reason she was being bullied was because she didn’t have the energy to fight back. I feel guilty for not taking her in sooner, but I’m told it wouldn’t have really mattered; she’d still have a terminal affliction and the goal would be to keep her comfortable for however long she had. I guess at least I’d known it was coming. I hope I gave her all the attention she wanted. It feels weird walking into to the bedroom and not seeing her happily snoozing on the foot of the bed or on a pillow. When I scan the living room I expect her to be on her red cat bed in the corner watching me or on top of the cat tree, and she’s not there.

Rest in peace my sweet kitty, I love you and I’ll miss you.

Leave a Reply