Thursday, November 3, 2011

Snicky

Snicky has lost a pound and a half in the past three months. She weighs 4.7 pounds, about half of her normal adult weight. She's weaker than ever. We knew she felt much thinner and took her to the vet tonight. Our vet is fairly certain that there's something seriously wrong, but doubts we'll ever figure out exactly what it is, since Snicky is too old and fragile for extensive testing. She's so skinny that it's easy for the vet to feel her organs. She had some blood tests, which may tell us something.

She stopped eating a few weeks ago, after a stressful trip to the groomer, so we did some syringe-feeding to perk up her appetite. That helped. We also give her vitamin B shots and small amounts of a steroid she's done well on before, because she probably has inflammatory bowel disease. She also gets potassium for her kidneys, high-blood pressure tablets, and she's spent the past week on anti-nausea medication. And she gets three eye medications twice a day. Snicky is a furry pharmaceutical advertisement. But you won't be seeing any recent photos of her because she really prefers to be in retirement these days, like Greta Garbo.

After the vet and I had a long phone chat about my worries on Tuesday, Snicky suddenly began improving. Cats eavesdrop, no doubt about it, but I bet either the steroid or anti-nausea pills began to help her. She's more interested in food and water, she's stopped retching and clicking her teeth (which suggested nausea to me), and she's even demanding that I play with her. I drag her piece of rag tied to a fishing pole in front of her, and she flails around to chase it, picks it up, and carries it to her food dish, where she chows down for a bit. Then we do it again, and again, and again. She's also returned to sleeping on our velvet armchair; a few weeks ago, she had so much trouble jumping up there that she abandoned it. To sleep on our bed, she learned to climb a two-step stool with the steps covered in sandpaper so she doesn't slide off them.

So Snicky is having a bit of a renaissance at the moment, which we're enjoying. As long as she's eating and is able to get herself to her litter box and some comfortable sleeping spots, we're not beside ourselves. And she's even playing, for heaven's sake. Still, I'm not looking forward to her test results. But since Snicky's been ailing semi-seriously for about three years now, I think I've also learned to be philosophical about the Inevitable. On the other hand, I may fall apart if we get bad news. Hard to know.

We've always told ourselves we'll do whatever it takes to keep her happy, but we won't prolong her life if it seems like a burden for her. But how do you ever really know? We talked to our vet about this tonight, and she agrees that it's a decision that never feels quite right, and is always controversial, if not painful, not only at the time but in hindsight. She says it's especially hard in cases like Snick's, where the cat slowly wastes away, with its quality of life diminishing gradually. Where do you draw the line?

I tell myself she's had a really good life, and that it's my job to do any suffering on her behalf from now on. She's not going to hurt if we can help it. And she's munching from her dish right now and holding tight to her toy.

Hang in there, Snictoria, we'll hold onto you as long as we can.

4 comments:

  1. Snicky will let you know when she's done. If she's in pain, you'll know and can relieve that. But if she isn't, she'll fade away and will at some point isolate herself. This is a very normal aspect of dying and isn't a reflection of her rejecting you. As her body shuts itself down, she will respond less and less to what and who (you) are around her. If you are comfortable with that, you can let her ease herself out of this life at home. Tears and emotions at losing her are also absolutely normal. Tincture of tears is very much healing. It seems surreal at times, and perhaps that is a way of protecting us a wee bit from the inevitable loss and hurt.

    I'm so sorry, APB, but I'm also happy for Snicky that she has such loving and caring people supporting her through this time in her life. It's a wonderful gift that you're giving her.

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  2. aek, thank you for that. Each time we get to this point, it feels hard and strange all over again. But you're right, I just need to pay close attention to the signs and signals that may come.

    You've become one of the best friends I've never met, you know! Thanks again!

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  3. Enjoy the moments of joyful play. Snicky will let you know when it's time. I never believed this until it happened to me. And, that silent communication is an animals way of comforting you.

    The crew over here will be thinking of you.

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  4. PB: I'm so sorry - I hope Snicky's renaissance does last awhile. AEK and Penny are both right, she will let you know, and you need to believe you'll make the right choices, because it's clear that you will. My crew's thoughts are with you too.

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