Sophie-cat and I are on a particular journey together at this time. She doesn’t know it, but these are her last days, possibly weeks and most definitely (unless something miraculous happens) these are her last months. We found out this Monday that Sophie has a large mass growing in her abdomen (which is probably cancerous), early onset kidney disease and hyperthyroidism. As she’s between 16 and 18 years old (and most cat lives until they are 21) we’ve decided not to go down the route of surgery and chemotherapy – as we don’t feel she should be put through this. With her Hyperthyroidism, her heart has been weakened – and even though daily medication has brought down her heart-rate, I still feel surgery with the anesthetic needed would be too risky. So, in consultation with our Vet, she is now on a course of steroid tablets to reduce the swelling, help her feel more comfortable and have a quality of life until the time when we see that she is struggling again – and then we’ll probably have to let her go.
I am frustrated by the shocking prices which have prevented me from even being able to know exactly what my precious cat is suffering from (an ultra-sound and x-rays would cost over £450!) as we cannot afford this, or follow up tests. Just blood tests, an anti-sickness jab and the consultant fee came to £158. Yet all her symptoms (vomiting food, then not eating at all, eating copious grass, the blood test results and distancing herself from us) are pointing in the direction of her being very ill.
So, now that she’s feeling a little better (it will be a temporary improvement due to the steroid tablets – which won’t improve her life expectancy, but help reduce inflammation) and the initial shock of the diagnosis (as much as they are able to tell us) I have found myself in a place of coming to terms with this short period of time being the end of my cat’s life. Every day there are new discoveries, and thoughts – so being a writer, I thought I’d blog about it. Perhaps these posts might help you or someone you know who is going through something similar? Maybe they are just a way of expressing my thoughts and feelings….
It’s coming up to three years since my Mum passed into the next world – on the 11th December. I’ve thought about death, the next world, life, grief, loss, detachment, acceptance, the interconnection between this world and the next and other related thoughts a lot since then. When Mum was growing weaker (She had breast cancer which spread into her arm, then her bones and her liver) I never once thought ‘My Mum is dying’. Even the final 10 days of her life, which were spent in her bedroom – this thought of ‘dying’ didn’t enter my mind. I was so focused on Mum’s soul moving from this world to the spiritual worlds of God, that I saw it as a birth – rather than a death.
Yes I cried a lot when I wasn’t caring for her, yes it was painful and shocking to think of her not being with us physically anymore, but my mind was living day by day. Dad and I – and near the end, Leila too – spent our time thinking of her needs hour by hour. I also felt excited for her, hopeful for a release from her ill body. I remember feeling full-up (from head to toe) with love for my Mum – almost obsessed with this love I felt. She was my entire responsibility and charge. I felt Dad and I were her spiritual mid-wives, ushering her gently into the next world. Later, I felt wave after wave of loss flow through me, something I have only recently felt has grown calmer.
Now, with my little cat, it’s a very different experience – yet the process of letting go is similar but also very different. I guess I want to figure this out through writing about it. I want to explore what it means to be faced with the death of a loved one – how people process this, accept it or deny it.Yes it’s very different to lose a human family member than a pet family member – and not everyone will understand how I could even equate one with the other. I also don’t (well try not to) anthropomorphize the actions of my cat as I know she doesn’t think, feel or have the consciousness of a human being. But she does have instinctual actions, she does have animal feelings and there are always reasons why she does things. So I’m learning how to see life from her perspective (for example living in the moment, rather than feeling sorry for what she’s experienced in the past) as well as accepting my own human feelings about my attachment to her.
So let’s see how this journey goes. I don’t know how much time we have left with her, but it’s going to be full of love and care. Writing about it will help me, so thank you for reading my scrabblings…