Thursday, July 23, 2009

Spoon'n'Me After Pandora

After PandoraSpoon seems almost as out-of-sorts as I feel. He seems even more confused than normal, if that's possible. He kept a close eye on me the first day, engaging in extensive weather-inappropriate snuggling, and for once, I welcomed it. Pandora never let him be a buddy, but her presence was inescapable for him as much as for me.

I am, of course, second-guessing myself. The choice to put my little calico Clio to sleep nearly three years ago was patently obvious, if terribly painful. She had an aggressive cancer which was not responding to chemo. Further treatment options remained, but they were terribly invasive and painful, with a very low chance of success. I could not put her through that.

Pandora may have had a better chance at recovery, but I have to believe that, even if she did, it was slim and would have been terribly painful and painfully terrifying to a creature that cannot understand what is happening and why. But I don't think she would have made it. I hope I'm not just rationalizing my decision. The vet said she would need a transfusion in the immediate future, as her blood pressure was so low and the fluids were diluting the blood too much. Feline transfusions carry a higher risk of serious complications than they do in humans. She was almost certainly bleeding internally. The radiologist would not get in for several more hours, so a crucial sonogram was effectively far in the future. If she was bleeding internally, surgery would have almost certainly been necessary. If she had even survived surgery and they found the problem and repaired it, recovery at her age and in her extremely weak condition would probably have been long and difficult. And if she were septic, as they suspected, that had a good chance of killing her and painfully.

With her prospects so grim, I played the odds that she was just not likely to survive this ordeal, and as her condition steadily worsened, I just didn't want her to suffer more. She literally went from able to walk around, although with obvious difficulty, to being unable to hold up her head in a matter of hours. She was so weak when I went to say goodbye. And above all, if she was going to die, I wanted it to be painless and I wanted to be there for her to provide any comfort I could in her last moments.

I was raised in a home where pets are a treasure but where we have a lifetime responsibility to them. That responsibility extends not only toward making sure they have a good life, but also toward making sure they have a good quality of life. I am very grateful that veterinary medicine has made so much progress during my lifetime, but I also am acutely aware that keeping a pet alive as long as possible is ultimately not as important as making sure that I am not keeping a suffering animal alive for the wrong reasons. Allowing an animal to suffer for my own selfishness would cause me more pain in the long run than the loss alone.

I hope I did the right thing. I declined a necropsy because knowing the root cause would not only not change anything now, but I just don't want to know. And, honestly, the thought of having them cut into my kitty for what seemed like a pointless exercise was unbearable.

After Pandora I will eventually get Spoon a new friend, hopefully a cat who will welcome his presence more than Pandora did. I got Spoon less than two weeks after I lost Clio. I knew that I couldn't replace her (she was, in her own way, as singular as Pandora), but at the time, I needed to feel like I was making a difference in another animal's life. Pandora, though, she so pervaded my sense of self, I'll need more time. I know no two cats are alike, that they all have unique personalities, but hers was fantastic and extraordinary, and I need to wait longer until I can appreciate a new kitty for who they are.

Pandora was an iconic figure who ruled my life (but was more than welcome to do so), but she was also my pet, my companion, and the best lap kitty. I simply cannot express how grateful I will always be that I had over 17 years with her.

1 comment:

Fluzz said...

You did the right thing. 17 years is a damn good age for a cat and as you said, even if they had done surgery it would have been painful and long for her to recover if she ever did. Instead you respected her and gave her the peace she needed.

Give Spoon a big squoosh from me.

and lots and lots of e-hugs to you.