This week should have been one of the happiest of my life. I’ve just retired from working, I’m (relatively) young, fit, financially secure and have the time to pursue my interests in photography, music and the countryside. Instead, its been one of the worst weeks of my life.
I used to have two cats, sisters, who were just 16 which is classed as a geriatric age by vets. About six weeks ago one of my cats died of kidney failure. It was very distressing, but not unexpected, as I knew her kidneys were beginning to fail and it’s a very common cause of death in old cats.
Around the same time her sister caught a cold and her appetite plummeted. A course of antibiotics and a steroid injection later the cat recovered. Drama over. Until last Friday. Since then, she hasn’t eaten anything and drank very little. She is not exhibiting any signs of discomfort, she’s not pining for her sister, no symptoms of any illness, blood tests are normal, no sign of liver or kidney failure, heart and lungs normal, perfectly wide awake and interested in her surroundings. The vet is baffled, I’m baffled – even Google is baffled.
So, I’ve spent the week watching an apparently healthy cat, albeit geriatric, starve to death and there is nothing either the vet or I can do about it. I can’t begin to describe how heart-rendering it is. And bloody infuriating to be unable to do something, anything. My emotions are in tatters over a much-loved cat. Lord knows how the parents, family and friends of anorexic humans must feel.
I’ve always believed in euthanasia for both sick animals and people. When the situation gets unbearable, and there is no hope of recovery, I think euthanasia is a perfectly viable, moral option. I’ve had other pets put to sleep and it was a hard, but correct, decision. If the law had allowed it, my mother would have taken it to end her life and I would have willingly supported her in that decision. Her greatest fear was of contracting the Alzheimer’s Disease which slowly killed her.
Now I’m faced with a horrible decision. Its been seven days since my cat ate and two since she last drank. She will either die of thirst or starvation soon unless she starts to eat and drink soon. There is no reason why she shouldn’t start though. She has lost a lot of body mass but is still walking around and is alert. Do I have her put to sleep or do I wait in the hope that she makes a recovery? The vet is comfortable with either decision but, obviously, if she does begin to suffer both he and I agree the only option is euthanasia.
I want to let nature take its course for now. There is still a slim chance of recovery and I figure she deserves a last roll of the dice. But there is part of me wondering if I’m just prolonging it because I don’t want to lose her. Either way, its a heart-breaker.