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.