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Monday, February 29, 2016

When Your Cat Has Cancer

As I sit here writing this I am still unsure of how long my Vino has left. A moment ago I thought he may be taking his last breaths but suddenly he perked up again. I picked him up and put him on the floor to see how he would act. He sat in the middle of our kitchen, hunched over, unstable. 



STOP. 



FIVE DAYS LATER: 


I started this article to help others who may be going through the perplexing and upsetting situation my husband and I were in. The above paragraph was as far as I got before I realized it was time. That night, I put everything aside to spend the last evening with my dear Vino. Since then it has been onlybeen five days, the pain is still fresh, but I have to get this out there for those of you who may be going through the same thing, unsure of what to do. 



When Your Cat Has Cancer
Vino Last December - Before Cancer

When is it "right" to let your beloved pet go and have them "put down". I hate those words. They are so harsh. It brings forward an entire line of thinking about pets versus humans, the right to live, the right to die with dignity. I am not here to dabble in the political topic of assisted suicide, but I can't help but think how we can do this for our pets, yet as humans we are often left to a long suffering. Then I think about how in some cultures death is a rights of passage both for the one who is dying, as well as their family. There is something to learn through pain and suffering I know. I still do not care to see anyone or anything I love suffer. 


So how does one really know when it is "time" to let a loved one go? With pets it is terribly difficult. They can't speak to us, although they do speak to us in their own way. When you love a pet you can "hear" them. 

When a pet is dying of cancer you simply want what is best for them. Yes, there is a period of time where we want to act selfishly, hanging on, and that is okay too! We need that time, to adjust to the idea of them being gone from our lives. However at some point you just know it is time to let them move on. I encourage you to wait for that time. Unless your pet's veterinarian has told you that you must let go now, give yourself, and your pet time to make that choice together. All I can say is you will know when that time comes. 


When Your Cat Has Cancer
Vino and Tibet Enjoying Outside Time

In the best of worlds we would prefer our pets pass away safely and lovingly at home, in our arms, or on their favorite pillow. Often that can't be the case. In the past twelve months we have lost three pets. Our dog Glover who was fourteen, was an emergent situation with an obvious need to have him released of his pain and agony at the vet's office right away. Our other dog, Brandy, who was the same age as our Glover, I believe she died of a broken heart. She passed away at home in our arms just months after Glover left us. With Vino, he was diagnosed with Cancer several months ago. Just like in humans, Cancer in cats, or any animal is horrible. It can progress slowly, or as in Vino's case, quickly, but over the course of three months it sure did not seem quick to any of us who loved him. It all happened far too fast. 

We watched as his jaw deteriorated. His Cancer was in his jaw. We saw his appetite change, ironically he became ravishingly hungry, probably due to not being able to absorb the nutrients in his food. He was unable to eat his hard food, and even soft food was difficult so he was more or less down to a liquid diet, which meant Tuna broth, or wet cat food broth. He was losing weight rapidly. We had him on pain meds but I did not want him starving to death. What a horrible way to go! 

What I personally was watching for was a change in his personality. Once his personality changed I felt I would know that it was time. Vino was still acting like himself, he was still jumping up and down on the sofa, the counter for his food, still begging when he wanted attention. Vino was still climbing up on my shoulders as I worked as he always has.


When Your Cat Has Cancer
Vino My Clinger
Honestly, I just never really saw that personality change I was looking for. What I did see was what I first started out with in this article, when I sat him on the floor and he was wobbling. It was at that point in time it clicked for me, and he was looking at me with eyes that just said "mom let me go". 

I did not get, nor did he, that peaceful dying in his sleep wish. Instead we spent the last night with him cuddling on the sofa, watching our regular shows so that he heard familiar sounds, with the other pets coming up to sniff at him, saying their goodbyes. 

The next day we took him in to our trusted vet, and we let him go. 

I do wish we had caught his cancer earlier. There are treatments for pets with Cancer, just as there are in humans. Granted when your cat is as old as Vino was, the decision to treat or not is a personal one, expenses aside, as most pet lovers would spend as much as they have to in order to heal a sick pet, it was not a matter of expense, but what he would have been put through at his age for a small chance of survival. 


When Your Cat Has Cancer
In Memory Of Our Beloved Vino

What to look for: 

Vino had a spot under his chin that was slightly dark. I thought he may have had a scrap with one of our other pets and thought nothing of it until it darkened. That is when it really caught my attention. Then it started to slowly crust over as if he had a small scab. This happened rather quickly so I was still thinking perhaps just a small wound from a squabble. I wish I had thought otherwise and taken him in right away. That small brown patch, that wound, that was the Cancer beginning. At that stage maybe he could have received treatment and it not been so devastating. By the time we got him into the vet the treatment would have been far too difficult for him. 

The lesson for me in caring for my other pets in the future is to never underestimate something that looks out of place. Never assume it is just a scratch. 

When a furbaby passes there is so much sadness, and guilt. What could we have done different, better? Was it the right time? When is it the right time? Should we wait longer? Should be just let him or her be out of their misery? Are they even in misery? 

My message to you as a pet lover, is that you will just simply know! Do not let guilt outweigh your gut instinct to do the right then, at the right time. No we do not want our pets to languish in pain and agony, but we also do not want to take life from them when there is still quality of life for them to live. 

Take a few days, or weeks. Spend the time with them that you need, and that they cherish. Go for extra walks, even if they need be carried. Go for a car ride. Let them have a walkabout outside in the yard. Cuddle more. Let the other household pets spend time with them if they desire. Try to keep other activities within the home normal. I know one thing that people do not like when they are dying is to be treated differently. For the entire atmosphere of the home to change. Keep watching your shows, keep listening to your music. Keep singing to your pets, talking to them or whatever you normally would do. Make sure their last days are full of the things they have come comfortable with and love. Mourn for them after they are gone, and you will mourn, as you should. I am still in mourning now struggling to finish this. 

I will go on also to write happy articles because I know one thing for sure, our pets, just as human family members, want us to be happy. That is when our pets are most happy, when their humans are. 

We love you Vino, always and forever, I know you are probably being bugged by Glover and Brandy now and plenty busy keeping them in line. 

I love comments! Please join in discussion, ask questions, or leave tips for other readers. Comments truly are the driving force behind any blog as it helps the blogger to know what you, the reader want to see more of!

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