Lila Leaving

Wellllll…we put Lila down yesterday and although really sad, it wasn’t as excruciating as I expected.

After I wrote that last blog I spent most of the night awake with her, as I had pretty much made up my mind that it was hopeless after she had a particularly rough seizure. I could feel that she was ready, and Drew concurred, which was helpful as it is very difficult to make that choice on your own. You second guess yourself and wonder if you’re just being a selfish asshole who would rather kill their own pet than deal with a problem. You weigh out the financial options for things like MRI’s for an aging cat, and then feel gross for thinking about it. It is so much easier when there is someone else in the room with the same knowledge and love of the animal who has come to the same conclusion.

Yesterday I took the day off of work to spend time with her and recuperate from a very emotional night. Drew had things to do so I was home alone with all of the animals, and the day went by slowly. Lila slept most of the time and it felt like we were all just waiting. Finally I got dressed and put her in the bag and started the 10 blocks to the vet’s office. It was nice out and I was glad for the peaceful walk in the sunshine, which enabled me to center myself somewhat.

Drew met me there and they hustled us with sympathy into one of the exam rooms, which was nice because it’s hard to deal with sitting in a waiting room with happy puppies and owners on cellphones when you’re weepy and planning on leaving someone behind. The vet apologized for not being able to help our cat, and we told him we understood. Lila was quiet but panting and he gave her an anesthetic first, which slowly kicked in until she was sleeping. He left us with our sleeping cat and we petted her and told her she was awesome.

I squeezed her feet, which is an act I love that all my cats hate, and Drew said, “This is going to be me on my deathbed one day, isn’t it? I’ll be unable to move and you’ll be poking your finger in my ear and looking in my pajama pants.” And I said, “Yes, Andrew. And it’s coming sooner than you think.”

And then the vet came in and asked if we were ready, and we said yes, and he gave her another shot. And within seconds she was gone.

It is so interesting that the minute the soul leaves the body it really is just a shell. There is a huge difference between being anesthetized and dead. She was so very obviously not there any more, even though her body was still warm and soft. It was such a quiet release on life that it felt right and clean. The last time I had a pet die it was via getting hit by a car, so it was very nice to have a choice this time. And it was great to be able to make a choice that I believe my pet agreed upon. In some ways I feel lucky to be a part of such a holy experience.

Anyway, the main reason for this blog is just to let those that are interested know what the outcome was, and to thank everyone for the lovely wishes and condolences. I really do appreciate it, I know that she was just an ordinary housecat and sometimes it’s hard for people to get their head around the loss of one being a big deal. I am grateful to be surrounded myself with people who get it, and the emails and texts and comments have been really lovely.

The Wind-up

Well, I had intended to blog about our latest summer vacation and an interesting reading my energy-working mother did for me, but one of my cats is doing badly and it’s distracting me from all else.

We got home on Sunday night and a few minutes in she had a sort of seizure: her legs went all wonky and she sort of fell shaking into my hands onto her side and pulled her paws in very tight around her face. A minute later it was over and she was purring and seemed relatively okay, although obviously disoriented.

The next day it happened twice, so I freaked and called the vet. I got her in yesterday (Tuesday) morning and my vet, who is very nice and usually pretty good with whatever the issue is, got very focused on the fact that she was breathing heavy. Breathing issues usually mean fluid around the lungs which usually means heart issues.

Sooo, he kept her all day and took x rays and blood and urine, and in the evening I picked her up and was told that she seemed normal and to call later for the blood and urine test results. On the way home she had another seizure, and later in the night as well. Blargh. Put in another call.

Tonight we got home and noticed that she’s always looking to the right, and seems to have to circle to the right to get anywhere. So that’s pretty obvious, whatever it is it’s neurological. She’s there, but she’s not really “there”. She is clearly not herself and spends all her time curled up in a hiding spot, unable or unwilling to jump up anywhere, sleeping most of the time, visibly confused.

This particular cat, Lila, is the most “ordinary” of my animals, although she is very pretty. When I adopted her I was actually trying to adopt a golden Persian cat from the crazy cat lady who had her and about 15 others. The woman had actually put a screen in her bathroom door so she could shut some of the fosters in there. I imagine that’s a pretty clear sign that your dating life is over, the minute you seriously consider a screen in the bathroom door. And she kept giving me reasons why I couldn’t have the cat I wanted, and why I should take this other cat “Rifke”, a fairly large tortoiseshell and white female housecat that she had stolen from an abusive deli.

I was not amused. I like fancy cats with mushy faces. But as I looked at this cat shaking my head I realized that while all the other cats clamored for food and attention, this one kept her back to us, quietly looking out the window. And it dawned on me that she was very sad and purposely refusing to participate because she didn’t need any more rejection in her life. Maybe that was only me attributing human emotions to a cat, but I swear that the vision came over me so quickly that I felt what she was thinking. And so I said, “Yes. Give me that cat.”

Rifke became Lila and turned out to be the nicest of my pets. She refuses to fight back no matter what the situation, and she will sit over you on the couch and lick your forehead if you are depressed or sick with a cold. The first time I picked her up and put her on the bed she looked absolutely stunned with happiness, she couldn’t believe her fortune. She welcomes any other animal immediately into the apartment with warmth, and has helped me rehabilitate my fucked up dog by quietly spending time with him. He’s completely attached to her and they usually sleep near each other. She is the most generous animal I know.

So although she is in my apartment at this moment and purrs when I pet her, I know that much of that is gone and it makes me very sad. I don’t have a lot of hope that there is a miracle cure from the vet coming that will snap her out of this obviously serious issue in an aging cat. Interestingly, the vet called me just now while I was in the middle of typing this (9:52 pm, pretty decent guy) and told me it sounds like it’s either a stroke or a brain tumor. Either way he said to be prepared to put her down as these things can turn worse quickly. Tomorrow we’ll go back in again for another visit to decide whether to put her on palliative drugs to postpone the inevitable, or to simply go with the inevitable.

In the meantime, we’re all in suspended animation. Drew sad at work, the dog keeping a respectful but concerned distance, Roquefort confused and sniffing her every few minutes, and Monty, my beloved familiar and the king of the household, actually deigning to lick her on the forehead and admit that he cares.

Lila just lies curled in a ball, when you pet her she presses her head into your hand and sleeps there, purring. Its one of the cutest and most poignant things I’ve ever had the privilege of participating in, completely quiet and full of acceptance. She’s recuperating from one more seizure at the moment and when she’s a little less dazed I’m going to talk to her and tell her its okay to go, although truthfully, I’d really rather she didn’t.