Last week was tough.
We had to let the cat that was found injured and outside alone go. (You can find his story here.)
Not only was his back end paralyzed, but he tested positive for FIV as well. The vet didn’t think there was anything we could do to make things better for him, and so we let him go. I am continually amazed how sad we can feel losing a cat we’ve known for two days, but how can you not hurt for a cat who has had to drag himself under a bush on a very cold night and howl for two hours to get some help?
I have mixed feelings about putting him down, and equally mixed ones condemning him to a life of either peeing and pooping on himself, or having everything expressed a couple times a day. He couldn’t play, or move around much. On the other hand, he was very sweet and beautiful. There were no good choices, and we did the best we could. We really hated to lose this guy, but at least we got him out of the cold, and he had a warm place to spend his last days, with lots of food and care and love. We gave him a name – Brando – and he will be remembered by those of us who cared for him at the end instead of slowly freezing to death outside and alone.
The week was balanced by being able to do a bit more for another kitty, one of my client’s cats. A few days after his people left he stopped eating and drinking, and after 24 hours that’s kinda crisis territory for cats. After two days of ignoring food and water, M got a trip to the vets. His red blood cell count was terrible (15, for those of you who know about these things), and his temperature was low to boot. Armed with some cans of AD, M got an all-expenses paid vacation in my spare bedroom, often known as the infirmary, where I could care for him around the clock.
A dog crate was waiting for him, filled with flannel and fleece to curl up in. And hot water bottles. When we care for feral cats coming out of surgery, or just ill, we take small plastic water bottles, microwave them for a minute or two, and tuck the warm bottles under the bedding and next to the cat to keep them warm. Since M’s temp was a little low, he got lots and lots of warm stuff to curl up in and with.
He thought that was pretty good. What he didn’t so much care for were force-feedings…lots of them. Do you know how many syringes it takes to force feed 3/4 of a 5.5 ounce can of AD mixed into a slurry with water? And all of those got fed to poor M, like it or not. The first day he hardly fought me. By day two he was getting a bit cranky about the process. On day three he was actively trying to bat my hand away with his paw, and was getting almost as much of the slurry on me as down him. Which is a good sign, actually. He even started eating a little kibble on his own day 3, which is a very good sign.
By the end of the week his red blood cell count was much improved, and his people were home, which made him happy too. He started eating more on his own, and some additional blood work is being done to confirm the vet’s thinking about what’s going on. He’s not a young guy, but all his blood work except the red blood cell count was good, and I think he’s got another couple good years in him. Watching him improve and perk up was a good antidote to losing Brando.
So in the end, I batted 500 last week. Lost one, and helped one back on the path of health. I’d rather bat 1000, but I guess we have to take what we can get some days. And do what we can to help, even when that’s not as much as we’d like.