Thursday, February 01, 2007

Kitty: Now at the Rainbow Bridge

Today's been a long day: earlier this morning at 5:00, we woke to the distressed yowls of Kitty, our 12 year old geriatric cat (the odd-eyed white), who with the exception of minor dental problems (due to her being an outdoor cat for quite awhile), had been quite healthy.

We brought Kitty into the bedroom and put her on a towel in a small Sterlite tub, so we could take turns calming her down and keeping her warm (we'd noticed that she had lost function and circulation in her back legs), while we put in a fast call to the vet. Maryville is too small a town to have an emergency or on-call vet service, but in this case, it wouldn't have helped, as the damage had already been done before we got to her.

We had thought that Kitty had a stroke, which was partially correct: as best as the vet could tell, after the morning litter, she developed an aortic blood clot, resulting in a iliac or "saddleback" thrombosis , a form of aortic embolism which lodged in her femur or femoral artery, leaving her hindquarters paralyzed due to circulatory failure. It was also causing her significant gastrointestinal distress, and, although we didn't know it at the time, the condition also apparently causes a cat great pain, due to the circulatory cutoff and damage to nerve tissue.

Although there are recorded cases of cats surviving an occurrance, if the diagnosis and surgery to remove the clot is immediate, it appears that most (90 percent) of cats ultimately have a second episode, and the prognosis for full recovery is poor.

As a long-time cat owner, Lauren had already prepared for what was to come, due to the advanced age of both Kitty and Opie, but it was a new experience for me, as my family had never had pets growing up. After the diagnosis, we both knew that prolonging Kitty's life was out of the question, so by 8:30, the vet was adminstering an anesthetic to put her to sleep, followed by a shot to euthanize her.

We're not sure yet if we're going to get another cat ... we're going to watch our remaining cats to see how well they will adjust, but I'm guessing that we'll probably be looking for one down the road. We had already planned to put in a small "cat" themed garden, with pussywillows and other "feline" themed plants and decorations, but now we will add a small memorial stone for Kitty as well.

As for where Kitty is now, I'm not sure if I fully believe in the Rainbow Bridge, but it is a comforting thought to hope that she is now running through a sunny meadow with hills of catnip, accompanied by other pets waiting for their loved ones.


Anonymous said...

After a very difficult weekend, I decided to look up this Saddleback Thrombosis condition on the web; this condition that had taken my cat of 9 years. My situation with Midge was almost exactly like yours with Kitty. I found her in great pain during the night and struggled to get her to a vet that was open early morning on the weekend.
It was very hard to say goodbye to my "friend" but, not wanting her to suffer -- and knowing she could not get better -- the only acceptable decision was the hardest I've had to make in a long while.
I still hear her bell, her call to me when she was hungry and I look for her to be sitting at the door when I come home.
Thank you for sharing and helping me feel some comfort. I, too, may get another cat some day, but for now I cannot image another one in the house.
Whiteland, IN

Cheshirekitty said...

Donna, I really feel for you. It is tough losing a companion that you've had for 9 years, and it's really hard watching them suffer. You did the best thing by letting her go, because the damage from the thrombosis would have been irreversible and there's a 90 percent chance of recurrence. But it's hard, I know.

In our case, we got to spend some quality time (3 hours) with Kitty in the end, giving her a comfortable bed and petting her. Being with us seemed to take away some of her pain, and she actually purred through her pain when we petted her.

Sending some healing thoughts to you.