Last week was tough.

We had to let the cat that was found injured and outside alone go. (You can find his story here.)

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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.

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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.

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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.


14 thoughts on “Batting 500

  1. Sometimes comfort is the best we can do. Like you said…better to say goodbye in comfort and safety than alone, cold and scared. I hope his next life is easier. May he be lucky enough to come back as one of yours. Run free, Brando.

  2. I am sorry you lost Brando. He was quite lovely. At least it’s as Ogee said, he ended his days warm and cared for and loved instead of cold and alone. And your clients came home to a cat on the mend, instead of a really sick one

  3. We had a cat a very long time ago (Skeeta) who was only with us for 3 months (feline leukemia) but made such an impact that when a very difficult decision had to be made regarding Ray’s future, Skeeta was uppermost in my mind. The link below is to a poem I wrote to cover the circumstances.

    Who knows what are “furry friends” are capable of!

  4. I suspected that Brando’s story would end that way. Too many things going against him. It is wonderful that his last days were warm and comfortable and full of loving people. All critters deserve that.

    1. Yes, it was nice to have him go out gently. I just wish he’d never been in the situation outside at all…he didn’t deserve that. No cat does.

  5. As hard as it was, letting Brando go was an ultimate mercy. His life would not have been a good one. Glad to hear the client cat’s improved. Did you ever figure out what ailed him?

    1. Still waiting on some tests, and his people are home now, so I might not hear right away since they’re in touch with the vet directly. But I hear he’s eating and drinking normally again, which is grand.

      1. Do you think he was pining away, feeling upset about being left behind? I’ve heard that some animals are like that. I knew of a dog once that was like that. She even had a ‘homeward bound’ experience and was lost for months as she made her way across 2 states.

      2. Who knows…no one stepped forward to claim the poor cat, though we promoted it far and wide. I know he was starving and cold and incredibly grateful for attention and food, and at least we could give him that! Hopefully his next life will be a better one.

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