Posted on September 7, 2008
Filed Under English
After years of dreading this moment, I think it’s time to face the fact that my cat (well, pussycat) Miepje, who’s been with me for well over twenty years (probably around twenty-two), is slowly approaching the end.
She’s become thinner and thinner these last few months, and she’s slowly losing the power to move around. She walks with an uneven wobble; instead of lying down she just more or less falls over, and getting on the sofa and on my lap is proving to be more and more difficult; when she jumps off the sofa, she can hardly carry her own weight when she lands.
She’s been almost completely deaf for a few years, she’s lost most of her teeth, and I think she’s now losing her eyesight as well. In fact, I think that’s happening right now. When I heard some noise in my back room, I walked over to see what was happening, just to find she had just done a ‘number two’ in a place where she’d never done that before; in a room she hardly ever enters, to begin with.
Then she started wandering about aimlessly, changing directions as soon as she felt something in front of her. She didn’t respond to my gestures, and whenever I picked her up and put her down somewhere else, she would just lie there and move her head around in circles, as if looking to focus on something, but not finding it. I don’t think she’s completely blind, because she blinks her eyes when I move my hand close to her face, but it’s with a total apathy that worries me. I guess she couldn’t find her litterbox and ended up in a place where she could no longer hold it in.
I ended up putting her on her sheep skin under my desk, where she spends most of her time. I guess she recognised the location, because she settled down almost immediately. She looks so tired and frail there. She responds to stroking, but not with the usual enthusiasm. She’s in a world of her own.
Like I said, I’ve dreaded this moment for years. When she approached the age of fourteen, fifteen, the age when a large majority of cats dies of old age or disease, I started wondering how old she would get. And she just kept getting older, and staying relatively healthy, eating well, and not showing signs of discomfort or illness.
But I knew then, as I know now, that the day will come when I have to give her up for good. I’ve always hoped for the end to be peaceful and uneventful; I’d love to find her on her sheep skin one morning, or when returning from work, simply ‘gone away’ in her sleep, without any sign of anguish or pain.
All I can do now is keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best, or at least the best possible outcome. Glancing over at the sheep skin, which I can see from here, I can see her lying there, sleeping, breathing slowly, unaware of anything going on around her. If that’s the way I’d find her one of these days, it would be the perfect farewell. I hope I will not have to play any part in it, but if it turns out she has really gone deaf and blind and can hardly find her way around, I realise I will probably have to.
(this picture is a few months old; she looks much more old and frail today)
Update: she seems to have recovered a little. When I went into the kitchen for a smoke, I could hear her walking around. She always starts looking for me when I leave the room. She acknowledged my presence, looked around for a full food bowl (which is one of her main activities nowadays), and walked straight back to her sheep skin without showing signs of being disoriented or lost. Still wobbly and weak, but at least with a sense of purpose again. And now she’s walking over to me for a bit of attention (and food, no doubt). I guess I’ll just humour her.
Update again: it’s really not going very well. She does try to follow me around, but she keeps losing control of her hind legs, which makes her fall over or sit down. Even turning around on her sheep skin proves to be a challenge. I’m not really sure whether she’s very weak, or very disoriented and dizzy. I think it’s the latter. She has a lot of trouble getting up from her sheep skin, or even changing positions. I put her food bowl right next to her (I normally put her food in a back room), and she started eating enthusiastically, but within a few minutes she more or less collapsed right next to the bowl, with her little head resting on the sheep skin, nose buried in it. Half an hour later she started to retch (which she didn’t quite manage; she got a bit panicky). Then she fell back into a state of disoriented looking, trying to hold on to a strange, spinning world by clasping at it. In fact, it reminds me of my first cat, Dickie, who died, age nine, from acute kidney failure. Out of the blue, he became totally unresponsive and absent, couldn’t hold anything down, and died at the vet’s a day later. I put Miepje back on her sheep skin, making her as comfortable as possible. If nothing changes tonight (or if it becomes progressively worse), I think I’ll have to take her to the vet tomorrow to end her suffering. I’ve never wanted that for her, and I’m not going to let it happen. Sad as I am to see her go after so many years, that is my ultimate responsibility as her ‘boss’.
Update: a few minutes after I posted the update, she suffered something that looked like an epileptic episode or a seizure. The panicky behaviour when she retched was probably also a seizure. I would be surprised if she made it through the night (it’s 3 AM, and she had another seizure just now). I’m trying to get a vet right now. -> And I’m on my way to have her put to rest.
The end: here