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Aging Cat, 20 years old Aging Cat, 20 years old

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  #1  
Unread 04-25-2010, 01:44 PM
Aging Cat, 20 years old

We have a cat that is 20 years old. Yes 20! She is and has always been a fighter. She is in the midst of renal (kidney) failure for which we give her subq fluids. We should be doing them more often we do, but because of her fighter instinct we tend to let it go until I notice that she seems to be more lethargic and struggling with her bowel movements.

She has lost alot of weight, she is so tiny that I can't bear to give her a bath. Some days she really does have an awful odor as she doesn't bathe herself like she should.

I've now been bitten three times when giving her subq's. That's been over the course of a year's time, but each time I get bitten it effects me worse. I get an infection every time. Yes, I will wear gloves next treatment.

Anyways, here's my question. I have had several people suggest to me that we should just put her down. My problem is that I don't think she is in any pain, at least she doesn't act like she is. She still follows me around the house and sleeps by my side every night. I know she didn't mean to hurt me when I got bitten, she just didn't like and has never liked to be held down. When do you know it is time? Dh and I think that she will let us know when it is time. Are we being selfish by prolonging her life? I don't think we are, but have had others suggest to me that we are being selfish.
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  #2  
Unread 04-25-2010, 03:03 PM
Aging Cat, 20 years old

Kim, first of all let me say I know how painful this decision is. Our male cat lived to be two months short of his 20th birthday. Last two years of his life he was on several medications but ate good, followed us around, slept with us, etc. He would wake us up at night a lot and vet said he had a little dementia. Six weeks before his death we also had to get him IV fluids and our vet mentioned to us to be prepared for the worst if he didn't respond to the fluids. He too was going through some renal failure. My DH and I were in your position about not knowing when it was time to give him up. Our friends who had several cats assured us you will know when it's time. Lukily he did respond to the fluids for a while. We just tried to enjoy every minute of his remaining time with us. About six weeks after his fluids, then a couple of days went by when he wouldn't eat. On the third night he woke me up and he was heading to his litter box and I noticed he didn't even make it and had peed on our bathroom floor, which he never would have done that. I knew then it was time to let him go. On our last day before taking him to the vet we took pictures with him, held him and cried. Looking back at those pics it is shocking to see how skinny he was but up until he stopped eating he was fine and a great companion. Our female cat (his mother) lived to be 18. She died in her sleep (while napping). It was such a shock at the time but it's definitely the best way for them to go.

As far as your cat biting you when being given fluids, I feel like biting the doc's head off when I think they will hurt me too. Just enjoy her for as long as you can!

Hope this was helpful. Sorry you're having to go through this. It is not an easy decision to make.

Hugs!
  #3  
Unread 04-25-2010, 06:28 PM
Re: Aging Cat, 20 years old

I feel for you. I had to put down my cat just after her 21st birthday. She was never really sick just stopped eating one day and I tried her favorite food (tuna fish) but she still wouldn't eat. When I took her to the vet everyone in the waiting room thought she was a kitten since she was so s
small. This made me cry even more. She was always a small cat to start with. My vet said she had a stroke.

I've been through this before with my first cat. He was diagnosed with cancer at age 12 and the vet told me there was nothing he could do. It was the hardest things I ever had to do. But I tell myself they are in kitty heaven and health and playing.

This next part may sound strange but I had them cremated and their ashes are in an urn on my fireplace. I have pictures sitting next to the urn. You can't tell that it's an urn because it looks like a cat figurine until you look under it and the plug is their.

It gives some peace knowing that some part of them is still with me. My grown kids even saw hi to them when they are standing by the fireplace.

My thougths are with you.
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  #4  
Unread 04-25-2010, 06:57 PM
Re: Aging Cat, 20 years old

I know your thoughts at this time. I have two cats, one seven and one twelve. The twelve year old sometimes goes outdoors. About seven weeks ago he came home and could not walk. How he made it home I'll never know. I took him to the vets the following day, and found out he had torn ligaments out of both his knees. I was looking into a costly surgery. I was given the option of putting him down, or move forward with the surgery. At his age, he is very close into his senior years! The vet assured me that he was healthy and would fare well and walk again. I went ahead with the surgery and 8 weeks later (today) he walks like normal. No, he no longer is allowed outside. He is such a part of our family. He is my shadow from the time I come home from work to time for bed. Monthly payments are being made faithfully, and our friend is back. I agree with others when they say, your cat will let you know when it is time. Enjoy his company while you have him, and when the time comes, you will know. My heart is with you in this and I know you will make the right decision.

Best Wishes are sent your way..
  #5  
Unread 04-25-2010, 11:34 PM
Re: Aging Cat, 20 years old

I lost my 20 year old kitty, too. He had multiple problems, and I should have let him go a week sooner than I did. He let me know, I was just slow to understand him. Its so hard. Just look at kitty's quality of life and what she is trying to tell you, and listen to what she's saying. Only you truly know her. I totally understand what you are going thru.sorry its come to this.
  #6  
Unread 04-26-2010, 04:41 AM
Re: Aging Cat, 20 years old

I am so sorry to hear about your baby. I too had the love of my life (my kitty Chloe, age 18) suffer through kidney failue, We had he on subQ fluids for 1 1/2 year. Twice whn we were losing her, I brought her to a hospital and they brought her back with constant fluids. She eventually went into heart failure, as her body could not process all the fluids. And had a stroke too.

I kept her alive as long as i could, and I did know when it was time, you will too. In those last months we were so incredibly close, she was my baby.

Selfish? I think not. Your angel is so lucky to have you.
  #7  
Unread 04-26-2010, 04:54 AM
Re: Aging Cat, 20 years old

Hi
I think that is so lovely how you love your cat I would think if he was in pain he would cry.I have a 16 year old cat he is taking pepcid a c he can digest his food because he can't chew well because his teeth are no good I will not put him down either until he looks like he is suffering.I understand good luck.I hope he gets better.
  #8  
Unread 04-26-2010, 02:01 PM
Re: Aging Cat, 20 years old

(((((Kim))))) First, ignore the words of those who suggest you might be being selfish when it comes to your baby. That is a terrible thing to say to someone in such a tough situation, designed only to make them feel bad at a time when they should be providing support and comfort.

It's really hard to say when it's time. As you know, our beloved (((Rusty))) passed away just over a year ago, and his last several months were really difficult on everyone. He was 16 and had been on meds for hyperthyroidism for years, and was still thin (unusual for the big Maine Coon cat that he was). Suddenly he started becoming ill with no warning.

Over the next few months, as we'd treat him for one condition, another would reveal itself. It took quite a while, and he'd already been through a lot, before we knew the full extent of his issues, which included 4 types of cancer plus hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. He even had a splenectomy for mast cell cancer (which he came through with flying colors) before we knew there were 3 other cancers hiding and waiting to pounce. He was on subQ's, too - that was sooo hard sometimes because, even though he clearly felt better afterwards, he really hated getting them. He was blind for a while, then he wasn't (due to the HCM) ... and even when he was, it was hard to tell, because he was so adept at getting around. He was on many medications, which he accepted without complaining (except for being unhappy about the SubQ's).

Towards the end, he had a few potty "accidents". We knew the end was coming, but he still seemed to enjoy life at least somewhat - he'd sun himself, cuddle up to us, and come when I brought him his food. I started wondering, though, if I should end things before he was in too much pain. Then one day I went to work, and when I came home he had passed away while napping. I suppose I was relieved that I didn't have to make the decision, but in retrospect, seeing him lying there so thin, I wondered if I'd waited too long. I also felt horribly guilty that I hadn't been with him when he took his last breath, even though it would have been impossible to be sure to be there since we didn't know when it would happen. It took me a while to stop thinking those thoughts.

I, too, keep his ashes on the mantel at home. It helps to think he's sitting there watching over us, with his brother Bear (who passed a few months earlier).

I wish I had some answers for you, but as you can see I don't. You are going through what is the hardest part of pet ownership. Every time I lose one (and we had another kitty, Blossom, die suddenly of a massive heart attack without warning two weeks ago at only five years old), I think, "I can't do this again. No more pets." However, I know I could never be without at least a couple of them - they make life so much fuller while they're with us. The good times definitely outweigh the bad, but the bad can be pretty devastating. I hope you derive at least some comfort from knowing you are surrounded by others who understand, and who would gladly bear the pain for you if we could.

Many gentle s to you and your fur baby.


-Linda
  #9  
Unread 04-26-2010, 03:01 PM
Re: Aging Cat, 20 years old

I have dealt with this in my own family as well as in my career as a veterinary technician. I commend you for being such an attentive caretaker. Your kitty is lucky to have you. Caring for animals is a lifetime commitment, and it can be incredibly difficult to care for animals with severe health problems. Animals are very good at hiding discomfort, so it can be hard to know how they are actually feeling. That being said, animals live in the moment. They do not know that they have a diagnosis and they don't have the ability to fear future discomfort the way we do. They only know how they feel right now. That is one of the amazing qualities that I cherish in animals, and it is why they will continue to fight to live, even against terrible odds. Your veterinarian can give you a diagnosis and recommend treatment, but only you know what the best decision is for your cat and for your family. You know your cat better than anyone. Remember to take care of yourself now, as well. My heart goes out to you.
  #10  
Unread 04-27-2010, 10:09 AM
Re: Aging Cat, 20 years old

((( Kim ))), I understand how you feel, I've had to face those tough decisions too
As said, please don't let anyone who says you're being selfish hurt you. You are the only one who can make the call on what's best to do. I say let your heart rule.

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