Today, I had my second difficult, heart wrenching decision of the year. Winnie went downhill last night. She started crying and couldn’t walk straight. She was scared. I was terrified she wouldn’t make it through the night and didn’t want her to suffer. She slept under the bed in the spare bedroom, I spent hours on the floor so she wouldn’t be alone. It brought back memories of sleeping on the floor when John wasn’t comfortable in our bed, but didn’t have a hospital bed. He’d sleep on the couch, I’d sleep on the floor. He told me to sleep upstairs. I couldn’t bear to be away from him. I kept thinking… what if something happened during the night and I wasn’t there with him… there for him…
In the morning I called my good friend- one of the few who I can always count on. I asked if she could watch kiddo. I knew this vet visit wouldn’t be rosy. I didn’t think I could deal with a two year old rip tearing around and Winnie liked her peace and quiet. Her last moments should be as anxiety free as possible.
She actually looked better this AM and fought about getting in the cat carrier. I wondered if I was doing the right thing. But, I knew I was. It wasn’t right to prolong her life solely for my selfishness and not wanting to let her go. There is only so much one can do. I also wanted to have the vet evaluate her- maybe he had a magic rabbit he could pull out of a hat.
I love my vet he is realistic and compassionate. He thoroughly examined her. She was down to 4 lbs, had an elevated temp, her respiratory issues were still obviously there, and she was severely dehydrated. He said that through palpation he could tell that her kidneys were different sizes and he felt that it was quite possible that she was starting organ failure.
He said there were no wrong choices. We could try another course of treatment, but it hadn’t pulled her through before. It might buy her a little time, but not necessarily. He also said that she clearly had more issues going on… possibly lymphoma… possibly that her body is just worn out… He said it also wouldn’t be a wrong decision to euthanize. He told me what I’ve heard many horse people say, it’s better them go when they’re having a good day then to wait too long.
I knew in my heart that she didn’t have much time left and I was so upset by last night’s events. I didn’t want her to go gasping for air (like John had), or convulsing, or panicked and fearful. I’d much rather it be quick and painless and with me stroking her soft fur.
The vet clipped her leg and I asked for her fur. It was soft as it ever had been (John always loved how soft she was and commented that she was so much softer than the barn cats– and she was). The vet bagged her fur and sometime I’ll take it and some of Squall’s tail hair to the cemetery. It’s the closest that I can do, since we can’t be laid to rest with our critters.
There were no complications and she went softly and as peacefully- well as softly and peacefully as that whole damn death thing goes. I told her that she’d see HER John and that he’d take care of her and someday I’d see her again. I told her to tell John that I love him. I prayed that God would re-unite her with John. That would be my luck… bumbling around lost in Heaven…
My vet told me I’d made the right decision and gently wrapped her body in a towel and then carried it to the car for me and he gave me a hug. I went to walk in the building to pay the bill and he said we’d square up later. That was so kind of him. He had really been rooting for Winnie to make it. He had wanted me to call with updates and when he hadn’t heard from me for a week, he was so glad because he thought she was doing well. And… she had been doing better… Monday she’d had a little decline and then Tuesday morning she’d been the same… in the course of a night, she’d crashed. Dr. Foster is one of the good vets. After we’d used him for the first time and had left the office, John had commented that he liked him and was very confident to have him caring for our animals. I agreed.
Through tears, I drove to my friends house. Hugged kiddo. Cried, talked, and hung out for a while. Kari is such an amazing friend and I don’t know if she knows how much it meant to share those hours together and to know that kiddo was being well taken care of while I tended to things that two year olds don’t and shouldn’t have to understand.
I told Nathaniel that Winnie has gone to be with Daddy in Heaven. I’m sure he’ll ask about her later and want to know where she is.
I’ve never buried one of our pets before. That task fell on my parents when I was a child and then John buried Kit Kat and Toby (aka Stray Grey) at Leaky Creek. John even rented a jackhammer to dig Toby’s grave… he died in February and the ground was frozen solid. Toby was a stray. My friend… my buddy… my abarn helper with the gravely meow. He was scared of John- who knows if a man had abused him in the past. Toby came with baggage… lots of it. But John didn’t resent that, he liked Stray Grey and he showed him the compassion that our longtime pets received. He knew it was important to me that Toby come home. Although, if I lose a pet again when the ground is frozen, I’m having him/her cremated and I’ll bury him/her after the ground has thawed.
I waited till kiddo was asleep and dug the hole. I buried Winnie next to the tree where the other felines are buried. I put her grave closer to the house. She was a house cat and only occasionally would venture into the scary outdoors for brief periods of time. After I buried her, I took the carnations that I had gotten for John’s B-day and put the on her grave along with a big stone. I know that John would approve of sharing his flowers.
John and Winnie are probably sharing a cat nap right now. They both LOVED to sleep. I’m sure John has missed his Winnie and I know she’ll love to see him again. They were two great friends.
RIP Winnie & John