Getting ready to say Goodbye

D'Ar when he was younger. My Couch, he says..

D’Ar when he was younger. My Couch, he says..

We all know that the day will come. Cats don’t live as long as humans, so inevitably we will have to say goodbye. My cats tend to live fairly long lives – and they tend to die from strange things, because as a vet I can treat and manage most of the regular things that science has already sorted.  My old boy – D’Artagnan, 17 years old Somali – is no exception. In September last year I was getting ready to go out the door to go to Leeds to lecture – and in front of my eyes, he walked across the floor, started wobbling and then slowly sank to this stomach. By the time I got him down to the practice, he was better, but we measured a very low blood pressure – something that is quite rare in cats – and I knew that he was edging towards his final days. He has a rare heart disease. Something seen in old cats, but not often, and combined with the low blood pressure there is very little to be done about it. Most heart disease we can stabilise with medication – not with him..

He went about his life very well until about 5 days ago. Then he started having the sinking to the ground fits again. And I knew it was time to get ready to say goodbye.. The prognosis when you get to this stage is bad – average survival is around 11 days, and I am adamant about letting him go before he gets really bad.  We have had lots of cuddles. He has been purring happily, eating – though not as much as last week – and sleeping curled up tight against me every night.  But it is getting worse day by day, and today his purring is much less.. He can only walk halfway across the floor before he has to rest. And while there are no other signs of discomfort – his breathing is fine, he is still eating – he is obviously going downhill fast.

The challenge with saying goodbye is always the timing. I have had a couple of cats where I waited too long – and that has taught me that it is better to watch for the early signs of the cat letting you know that they are ready. Just two days ago when I talked with my husband about when the time would be, D’Ar turned his head and glared at me. So Not Ready, he said – very indignantly – Still Here! This morning when we had the same conversation, he just turned his head slightly. Maybe, he sighed. Getting Close. Will Let You Know If It Is Today – Later..

So I watch. And wait. And cuddle. And kiss lots. And yes – I cry.. Because he is my baby and has been for 17 long years. But I could do with another year.. Just one more…

Post script:

I went from writing this post into the bedroom and found D’Ar cuddled up on the floor with Penny wrapped around him. She looked at me with really big eyes. He Is Really Bad, Mum, she said. Time To Go Has Come. And so we said Goodbye. Less than 2 hours after writing the post. And yes – it was just as hard as I thought it would be…

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