Friday, July 23, 2010


I'm having a rough patch. Here is one of several things that has gotten me down . . .

Chloe passed away on Wednesday. We actually had to put her to sleep. I was soooo hoping it would never have to come that with her. I always imagined her death as finding her one afternoon curled up in a sunny spot and going to pet her and realizing she had died peacefully in her sleep. Wouldn't we all like to go like that! But no, Chloe got sick, very sick. When I took her to the vet, she was barely moving on her own. She stayed in a hunched position and would only stagger a few inches to a new spot where she would crouch again. I later learned that cats in pain will do this, show restlessness but remain hunched up. Her nose was stuffed and crusty with gook and her breathing was labored. She would meow every so often and it was the most pitiful, heartwrenching sound I've ever heard. When the vet was feeling her belly, she commented that her bladder was very full. Chloe had had kidney problems for a long time, which is common in older cats, but her symptoms were merely drinking and peeing more than usual, not a big deal. I guess she hadn't been able to go to her litterbox the past few days, so she'd been holding it. As the vet pressed harder, suddenly Chloe peed all over the table. It was a lot, and it was bloody. The vet mentioned that there might be something more serious going on with her, but she was going to start her on an antibiotic for the infections and see if it helped. They also gave her IV fluids while we were there. But her weight, which has always been low (she was so tiny, her normal weight was 7 pounds!), had now dropped to 4 pounds. She had nothing left to fight with.

I took her home and tried to get her to eat and drink, but no luck. She moved around the living room and foyer for about half an hour. It was then that I noticed blood drops on the carpet. I looked at her bottom and saw that she was bleeding from her urinary tract. I called the vet back and they told me it was normal for cats to dribble blood with a urinary tract infection. So I put a towel under her and kept an eye on her. As she moved from place to place, the bleeding seemed worse. I looked again and her entire back end - fur, tail, and back legs - were now covered in blood. There was no urine in it at all, it was bright red. This did not seem like "dribbling."

I decided then to take her to the emergency clinic since the normal vet was closed, it was 7:00. Mom had come over that afternoon so she stayed with the girls for me. I called John and he started on his way home. At the emergency clinic, the dr took Chloe to examine her. At first, he suggested keeping her overnight, giving her IV antibiotics, and doing an ultrasound in the morning to determine the source of the bleeding. The estimate for all that was $1000. I asked him what sort of treatment could be done if they found something like a tumor. He said that would be a problem since she was too old to tolerate surgery. I decided there was no sense in finding out she had something serious if there was no way to treat it. I was hoping it was just the urinary tract infection causing the bleeding. Maybe when the vet squeezed her belly, a blood vessel had burst in her bladder and it would soon stop bleeding. He said that could be possible. He suggested just keeping her overnight with the IV antibiotics and fluids and not doing the ultrasound. This estimate was $500.

John had not arrived yet and I was trying to figure out what to do on my own. My gut wanted them to save her no matter the cost! I just wanted her to get better and come back home and be Chloe again. But I knew in my head that she had already beat the odds by making it to 18 and she had to die at some point, we all do. I just didn't know if this was her time to die and I hated that I had to make that decision. I kept looking into her eyes and waiting for her to give me some sign that she was ready to go. She seemed to know I was there and would peacefully close her eyes when I petted her head. She didn't seem to have given up yet. I didn't know what to do.

Finally, John arrived. He was shocked at the state she was in. After a few minutes of talking it through, we decided to take her home. We would give her one more dose of antibiotic and see if she improved overnight. I know how well the girls feel after being on an antibiotic for 24 hours. I was hoping for the same with Chloe. Plus, I would feel much better having her at home near me and I know she would rest better there, too.

So we set her up in our bathroom. She doesn't like to be locked in there, even though the hard floor is easier to clean than her favorite carpet spots, but this time she didn't protest. I wrapped her in a towel to try and keep her warm since her temperature had dropped. She didn't move or make a noise, so I went to bed. Around 2am, I woke up to check on her. She had crawled out of the towel and moved into a corner under the counter. I went over to pet her, secretly hoping she had passed away already, but she lifted her head and meowed when I touched her. I could tell she had been moving around quite a bit because there was blood all over the floor and cabinets. I put the towel back over her with her still in the corner and went back to bed.

I prayed for God to take her soon. And I prayed for my dad in heaven to come get her. My dad, who died 12 years ago, was very fond of Chloe. And that is incredible since my dad was a huge redneck who raised hunting dogs! But I think he loved Chloe because I loved Chloe, and because he loved me. Chloe has always been tied in a special way to my dad. At my parents' house, my dad's recliner sat next to the outside door. When I would come home on weekends, Chloe would drive Daddy nuts wanting to go in and outside repeatedly. She would sit by the door and meow at him until he opened it for her. Then she would do the same from the outside. I wish I knew how many times Daddy opened that door for my silly cat! And then on Sunday nights, Chloe could sense that it was time to go back to my apartment and she did not like riding in the car. So, she would hide before I got ready to leave. Every Sunday, it became a ritual to load up my car and then go out looking for Chloe! A few times, we found her on top of the piano hiding behind the picture frames. But more often than not, she would be out in the woods behind our house. And Daddy would have to go traipsing off to get her. She would let him scoop her up and bring her back almost as if she enjoyed making him go through all that! And secretly, I don't think Daddy minded all that much.

I knew she would be happier and healthier with Daddy in heaven. Just like all of us will be one day. Since she was deaf and I couldn’t tell her I was okay for her to leave, I prayed to God to tell her for me. I just wanted her to let go.

The next morning, John and I got up to check on her. As I opened the door, I could see she was still crouching. But when I walked over to her and she saw me, she raised up on her front legs and began meowing. She still knew me. I checked her bottom and told John that I thought there was less blood and more urine, something hopeful, maybe. But then he noticed her mouth. She had begun bleeding there, too. Her meows were excruciating to hear and after a few times, she was too weak to even make a noise even though she kept trying. There was more blood all over the bathroom and her towel had deep stains. I couldn't believe she was still alive. I knew we had to help her at this point. She wasn't getting better, not ever. She was suffering.

I knew what we had to do, but that was a tough phone call to make! Actually saying the words to the vet just about killed me! They said we could bring her that morning. So John drove the girls to mom's house and I stayed with Chloe. I had about an hour with her, just her and I. I wrapped her in a clean towel and held her in my lap. I kept petting her head and trying to get her to keep her eyes closed, it seemed like she was peaceful then. A few times, she tried to struggle and I couldn't understand why she didn't just relax. Maybe the pain. I was anxious to get to the vet and just make her feel better.

The ladies at the vet were very nice. Of course I was a bawling mess. They gave me tissues. Chloe was very scared, I could tell. Her eyes were big and dilated and she became agitated on the table. The dr was giving us some time with her, but I asked John to call them in and go ahead and give her the shot. I wanted her out of pain as soon as possible. So they came with the pink medicine and injected it into her leg. I stayed at her head rubbing her ears and forehead, she always liked that. Finally, the dr said she was gone. I felt so much better knowing that she was no longer in pain. I really was truly happy that she was healthy again and happy in heaven, driving Daddy crazy again! But wow, did my heart hurt.

We brought her home in a nice little box. John found a shady place between four little trees in our nature area and dug a hole. The girls decorated the box with Chloe's name and drawings of her with a fish and a mouse! I took her upstairs and gave her a bath. I know that sounds pretty morbid and I can't believe I actually washed my dead cat! But she was normally such a beautiful cat with the whitest, softest fur. And now she was a mess with blood and bile all over her. I didn't want my last memory of her to be like that. So I bathed her, blew her dry, and brushed out her beautiful fur. She looked amazing. Her fur was softer than it has been in a long time. I sat and petted her for a while. That's the one thing I will miss the most, just touching her.

We had a little ceremony, complete with a Rachel Rose prayer! We'll probably add some gravel, plant some flowers, and put a little headstone. Make it a nice place to come and visit and remember her. She was, after all, a huge part of our lives for 18 years. I got her when I was 22 years old and she has been with me all this time. She and I were truly bonded and knew each other as well as we knew ourselves. She was like a part of me and now I feel like I've lost a body part. It's so weird not to see her lying in her favorite spots, or hear her padding around the floor. I never realized until now how often I would walk over and pet her or pick her up, it was just a routine. The house seems so strange now that she's not in it. I keep looking for her and envisioning her in her normal places. Maybe it will get better.

I have to say, I do feel a sense of relief. I've been dreading this for a long time and now it's done and I made it to the other side! Also, I'm not worried about her anymore. It can be nerve-wracking having a cat who is 18 years old and deaf. Wondering if she is going to get suddenly sick, or fall from somewhere high, or get outside and get hurt. At least I know she is happy now, much happier than she ever was here with me. And I will get to see her again one day. I can always look forward to that.

One thing I've done to help prepare myself for her death, is to collect her loose fur. There is a company that can spin pet fur into yarn and create keepsakes - scarves, hats, throws, etc. I'm not sure what I can get with the fur I've collected so far, but maybe at least something small. Something I can still touch and pet and feel a little piece of her. I know I'm a little over-the-top when it comes to Chloe, I always have been. But at least I didn't have her stuffed! That was a consideration for a while!! I just miss her. So much. So so much.

Oh well, I've written a novel here. But it was good to get it all out. Writing is therapeutic for me. Thanks for reading this far, and thanks for all the thoughts and prayers. I'm going to post pictures soon of Chloe through the years, more therapy for me! By the way, the photo of Chloe in the post below was taken just last month on June 25, healthy and beautiful!

1 comment:

Haley D. said...

Melinda, words are never adequate enough at a time like this, but I am so very, very sorry for your loss. Knowing Chloe is indeed in a better place and no longer suffering is a small consolation for not having her here with you. I can see your Daddy with her now! And one day you will be together again. I am so sorry for your loss of sweet Chloe. We continue to pray for you!