This week was a difficult one. It seemed like we dealt with thing after another. Yesterday was, by far, the worse day.
It started last weekend when we noticed that Mitties wasn't feeling 100%. He just seemed a little "off." With the veterinary clinic closed over the weekend and with the movers here all day Monday and Tuesday, it wasn't possible for us to get him to the vet. On Wednesday we brought him in and the vet asked to keep him for a couple hours to run blood work. He was worried about Mitties' kidneys and since we hadn't had any problems in 2 whole years, we thought it was a good idea.
I should mention that Mitties is a bit of a regular at the vet! He has had Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) for many years (a chronic disease where the pH in the bladder is incorrect and causes bladder stones). It's how I met him, 9 years ago. (You can read the story HERE.) His original owners noticed he was sick, but abandoned him at an animal shelter without mentioning his symptoms. Within a couple days, he was almost dead. The shelter brought him into the animal hospital where I was working and amazingly, after many weeks, a surgery, and some close calls, he survived. He went back to the shelter to be adopted. In awe of the kindness and patience on the part of the shelter organizers, I began volunteering.
He spent an entire year there. No one wanted a cat with 'special needs.' I was a senior in college and was not permitted to have any pets in my dorm room, but I kept volunteering and visiting him on a weekly basis. My last week of college I picked him up and he's traveled around the country (and across the world!) with me ever since!
When we went back to the vet on Wednesday to pick him up, the veterinarian was laughing. He said Mitties' kidney values were incredible. He couldn't believe that a cat his age (he was 14) could have such perfect blood work. He said that when he died, he wanted to come back as a cat to live with us!!
We certainly spent a lot of time (and money) to keep Mittens healthy. He has a filtered water fountain with bottled water, two different kinds of prescription cat foods, an automated litter box, and all the medical treatment he'd ever required.
We left the vet that afternoon with a bunch of injections for a possible bladder infection (a pretty common ailment for him) and a recheck scheduled for Friday.
By Friday we brought him back with some concerns. Not only did he not seem better, he almost seemed worse. He was acting weird. Mitties was always a real affection cat and very attached to me. He would sleep snuggled up in our bed, follow me into the bathroom each morning, and follow me downstairs for Maia's breakfast. He spent most of the day sleeping in our bed (unless he somehow knew one of us was sitting on the couch, in which case he would join us!) But he was extremely clingy on Thursday. He was walking across our pillows while we were in bed, climbing up onto us, following us and meowing… It was just too affectionate. It was like he was trying to get our attention to tell us something was wrong.
On Friday during his recheck, we told the vet and she suggested we take an X-ray. (This vet has also known Mittens for years and has saved his life on numerous occasions!)
The X-ray was incredible. His kidney showed a few stones and his bladder was absolutely full of them. It looked like a pile of rocks. The vet said they were all much to big for him to pass and would need surgery if we were going to fix him.
It was awful to hear. I wanted so badly to have her operate that same afternoon to save his life, but I knew that I couldn't. He was 14 years old. It would be incredibly expensive. And it would only be a short-term fix. We were already doing everything we possibly could do to help him avoid bladder stones. He had plenty of fresh water, the prescription foods, and we never gave him anything else. We knew that to deviate from the strict diet would result in a lots and lots of stones, bladder infections, and kidney infections. We were already doing everything we could and yet his X-ray looked completely speckled with stones. How long would it be before it happened again?
Each time he got sick, it was more dramatic and harder for him to recover. He would spend days receiving round-the-clock care: IV's, urinary catheters, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, the works. This time I knew it wasn't an option. I knew this time I would have to say goodbye.
At this point he was already showing signs of being sick, but he was still purring and snuggling and happy (even if he wasn't 100%). We took him home and promised to call the vet on Monday morning to let her know what we had decided to do. I wanted to spend quality time with him since I knew it was only a matter of time before he became very sick.
Romas was at a scuba lesson that night and Maia went to sleep early. Mitties and I ended up laying in bed for almost 4 hours together. He hung out with me while I worked on my computer. He snuggled up next to me and I rubbed his belly. He purred the entire time. It was wonderful. I knew I wanted to make the most of our weekend together. I never realized that would be our last snuggle session.
On Saturday morning I woke up at 6:30 and he wasn't in bed with us. I went downstairs and looked around, but I couldn't find him. By 9am I still hadn't found him and I was worried. It was very unlike him to hid from me. I knew that something was wrong.
He finally appeared around 9:30 and he looked terrible. I could tell he was miserable and he had taken a turn for the worse. I sat on the floor with him and kissed him and pet him, but he wouldn't purr. It was so sad to see him like that. I knew he felt awful and it broke my heart. I had to make a decision.
We had told the vet we would call on Monday, but I knew we couldn't wait that long. I didn't want his last days to be spent like that. I had Romas call the vet's emergency number to ask him to meet us. We all got dressed and Romas put Mitties into his travel bag. He set the bag on the floor to let the dogs say their goodbyes. It was heart wrenching to watch Budva whimper and poke the bag with her nose. The two of them were buddies. I wonder if she knew what was about to happen.
We drove to the vet and told him what had happened. He asked if I thought it was time to put him to sleep. Through my tears, all I could do was nod. We stayed in the room while the doctor gave him the injections: the first, an anesthetic so he would be comfortable and the second, the actual injection that would put him to sleep. I held his head and gave him kisses as I said goodbye. It was fast and painless. I had seen it done many times before at work, but Mitties was my first pet I have ever had to put to sleep.
I've cried on and off for two days straight. I keep thinking about how incredibly sweet and loyal he was. Yesterday was really hard - I had an appointment in the afternoon and although it was a great distraction, as soon as I was back in my car I was thinking about him again. I caught myself thinking (as I have on many, many bad days), "I just want to go home and lay in bed with Mitties." He was such a wonderful cat. "Meow Meow," as I called him, was Maia's third word! She would announce his name whenever he would walk into the room. Here's a video I have of her enjoying his company. He had followed me into her room (he was like having a shadow!) and was chatting, asking for belly rubs. She always got such a kick out of his meow!
I have no regrets about his life or his death. I wish he could have lived forever, but we all know our furry, four-legged friends leave our lives much too soon. I know his life almost ended several times as a result of his disease, the first time at only 5 years old. He defied the odds on several occasions and it became a joke that he was using up all of his nine lives!
I was so blessed to meet him nine years ago and I will be forever grateful for the many years he was my faithful friend. I'd like to think that right now he's suntanning on a balcony or snuggled up in a bed snoring. He was quite a cat and I will miss him everyday.
Goodbye, Meow Meow. We love you.Pin It