Friday, October 26, 2012

Five Days

Greetings to all Possum's friends - Feline, Canine and Human!

It's now five days since my beautiful boy left me, and not a day goes by without me dissolving into tears several times. Anything can set me off - the black cat in Steimatzky's bookshop that sits on a stool facing a wall of books, making her toilette and looking up, every now and then, to peruse the books, for all the world as if she's trying to decide which one to buy; the tabby cat in the car park outside my office that sits on the air-conditioning unit outside the window, having crossed a narrow pipe that does double-duty as a bridge; another tabby, with a fluffy tail like Possum's, who has somehow managed to get up onto the roof of the security guards' hut at the building's entrance and sits inside the casing of part of the air-conditioning unit there, nonchalantly making his toilette and turning away - just like Possum - when I try to take his photo; and most of all, coming home to an empty apartment, and knowing that when I start my pre-retirement leave in five days time, there'll be no little furbaby  running to greet me when I return home from work, exhausted, for the last time.

I was overwhelmed, and touched, by the number of comments left by so many people and kitties - woofies, too - after Possum's passing. I don't know how to thank you all individually for your support and sympathy. Some of you, I already know. Many of you, I have never "met" - but I hope to rectify that over the next few weeks and that you will continue to visit this blog, so that when the time is right and Possum and Pixie and Minxie send me a new furbaby, or furbabies, the new kitty (or kitties) will have a ready-made "family".

I would like also to thank Ann of Zoolatry, for the beautiful memorial graphic she made. 

When I've recovered a bit more, and can figure out how to do it, I shall make a separate Memorial page for all my furbabies and put this picture, and pictures of Pixie and Minxie, in a sidebar, as I've seen on other blogs. 

In the meanwhile, all I can do is wait - and learn to live with the pain of loss.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Possum's Last Will and Testament

Greetings, Fellow Felines - and Woofies and Humans as well!

This is the Last Will and Testament of Me, Felinemarshall Sir Possum MagnifiCatus, KCB (Knight of the Cat Blogosphere).

By the time you read this, I shall be at the Rainbow Bridge with my sisfur, Pixie, who flew away almost ten months ago.

As you will know, from reading my Mummy's reports, I have been feeling ever so tired and old for quite a while now, and very much in need of the kind of rest one can only get at the Bridge. I have been trying to tell Mummy this, at least from Rosh Hashana, but it took her a long time to accept what I was saying. When she did, she tried everything in her power to make me change my mind, including manhandling Me and feeding me by force - but I'm not angry with her. I understand. She loves Me so very much and it was very, very hard for her to let Me go. It was the same with Pixie, of course. 

It was hard for me, too, to make the decision to leave for the Bridge. I love Mummy very much and I knew her heart would break. Pixie has been whispering in my ear for several weeks, telling Me it was Time and that she was waiting for Me, but I told Pixie that I couldn't leave Mummy all alone, she's only a Human and she can't possibly manage without a kitty to take care of her. But I was so very, very tired. I just couldn't keep going anymore. I think Mummy finally understood that last night, and this morning, she decided the Time had come to respect my Wishes and let Me go.

So now, I want to ask all my friends - and Mummy's - to continue to visit Mummy once in a while, here on this Blog, even after I'm gone, to comfort her and not let her feel all alone. She is going to be grieving for a long while. I know she's been thinking that maybe she won't get another kitty, because We don't live as long as Humans and the thought of having to go through all this heartache again some day is very terrible. But I know too that, deep in her heart, she knows that Love and Loss are bound up together, that you can't have the one without the other, and that it's better to have a kitty to love and to share her life with - even if, some day in the future, she has to face the Pain of Parting once more - than never again to know the devoted love of a furbaby.

So now, I want to ask you, Mummy, when the Time is right and Pixie and I whisper in your ear that we've found the right kitty (or kitties) for you, that you listen to Us and open your heart once more. There are so many kitties in need of a Fur-Ever Home, and there is no-one better capable of giving them one, full of Love. Both Pixie and I had a Wonderful Life with you and we want to know that you are honouring our Memory by giving a wonderful life to the kitty (or kitties) we shall send you.

I love you, Mummy. I shall be watching over you from the Rainbow Bridge, together with Pixie, and Minxie Who Went Before, until it's Time for you to come and collect Us.

Yours Fur-ever,

Possum the MagnifiCat

My beloved Possum departed for the Rainbow Bridge at 11:50 this morning, October 21st, 2012. My heart is broken.
Fly free, my precious little one. We shall meet again, someday, beyond the Rainbow.



Saturday, October 20, 2012

From the Depths I Cried Out...

I am in such despair! Possum is still refusing to eat and I am having to feed him by force. It's breaking my heart, every time I have to force open his mouth and stuff food in, either with my fingers or with a syringe - and I'm sure half of it doesn't actually go into his mouth but all over him and me and the towel I have wrapped round him like a baby's bib to keep him clean. I feel like such a sadist. Cats are so very conscious of their dignity and I feel I am stripping him of his. 

My stepmother says, if he's made it so clear he wants to die, why do I not let him? Why not, indeed?

But how can I? He's old, yes! But, as so many of you have pointed out, cats can live into their twenties. Possum is only seventeen. He isn't ill. Now that we've discovered the problem with the arthritis, and it's being treated, he shouldn't be in pain any more. And, indeed, yesterday, I caught him jumping down from the dressing-table. If he jumped down, that means he was able to jump up - even if it was in two stages, first to the chair and then to the dressing-table. So, arthritis or no, he is getting his mobility back. I don't know whether he has just got himself into a mindset of wanting to die, and has dug himself in so deep that he can't back out of it, or whether he's pining for Pixie, or just feels alone all day. If it's the latter - in just eleven days, I'm starting my pre-retirement leave and will be able to spend all day with him. But how to keep him going till then? You remember we were afraid, when I postponed my retirement by four months, that he might not last that long? 

Einat tells me she had a couple of patients with a similar problem and put me in touch with a lady whose cat refused to eat and she force-fed the cat for three weeks before he changed his mind and agreed to eat of his own accord. But that cat was only thirteen years old and sick. Possum is seventeen and a quarter and, as far as we can tell, quite healthy except for his age. Her cat refused to eat because he was sick. Old Age isn't a sickness! So I can only think he has decided his time has come! How can I justify putting him to sleep just because he's old?!

Yet now, he looks at me - when he looks at me at all - with such sad, accusing eyes. He looks for new places to hide - or turns his back when he sees me coming. How would I feel if I were old and in a nursing home, and someone grabbed me and held my mouth open by force and shoved food in it, and half of it spattered all over me and I wasn't even allowed to die with dignity? 

But if I give up now - without even trying - how will I ever forgive myself? Martha (the lady Einat put me in touch with) said it took her three weeks, during which time, she built her whole day around feeding her cat every couple of hours. Don't I owe Possum at least that much time - especially when in just a week and a half, I'll have all the time in the world for him?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

More Ups and Downs

Greetings to all of Possum's friends (and mine too)!

Shimona here, reporting on Possum's progress - if it can be described as such. 

Yesterday evening, as I reported in my last post, Possum still wouldn't eat anything of his own volition. On the other hand, I refilled his water bowl and this morning, I measured how much he had drunk since last night. He had imbibed about 75-100 ml.

Another hopeful sign, or so it seemed to his worried Mum, was that when I was watching the TV last night, he got up on the couch beside me, rolled over on his back with his legs in the air and asked for a tummy-rub. He hasn't done that for days. I was so happy, it seemed he was slowly emerging from his apathy. 

I left food out for him overnight, but was terribly disappointed this morning to see he had eaten none of it. I replaced it with fresh food before going out to work, but he seemed to have sunk back into apathy this morning so I wasn't too surprised (though I was terribly disappointed) to find, on returning home this evening, that, once again, he hadn't touched his food. I was glad, however, to find him on his feet, rather than hiding under the bed or sleeping on the armchair, which has been the case for quite a few days now. 

I had to force-feed him again this evening, and he resisted all the way. On the one hand, this is a sign that he's still got plenty of fight left in him. On the other hand, I don't understand, if the anti-inflammatory drug is working and his jaw and joints hurt less, why he is still not eating. Worse, why did he not drink all day, especially in this unseasonably hot weather (32 degrees Celsius)?

I'm afraid that every good sign is countered by a bad sign. Furthermore, whenever something good happens (like him asking for a tummy-rub), it's not long before I'm already thinking of how it could actually be a bad sign. Like - he's really saying: "Mummy, I want you to know I still love you, but it's time to let me go." Yet Einat convinced me that this is not a cat that wants to starve himself to death.

Maybe I need to find a Cat Whisperer.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tuesday Update

Greetings to all Possum's friends and followers, both four-legged and two-legged.

It's still the anxious Mum here.

I took Possum to the vet again this evening (after another more-or-less unsuccessful attempt at forced feeding again this morning). He was very angry with me. He hissed at me in the taxi and tried to attack me through the grid of his carrier, but I was actually quite relieved that for a few moments, he had emerged from his apathy.

When we got to the vet's, Dr. Einat and her assistant managed to get almost half a can of A/D Critical Care dietary food into him (the rest went all over the examining table, the floor, and the towel I had wrapped him in). The odd thing is that he put up much less resistance to Einat and Yardena than he did to me! I'm beginning to feel he's turned this into a battle of wills between us.
He also received subQ fluids and Dr. Einat decided to try and collect a urine sample. She got rather more (or less) than she bargained for, because Possum decided to turn himself into a water-cannon. However, she managed to collect enough to carry out the necessary tests and to our great relief, his urine seems to be normal now!

Dr. Einat thinks  it possible that he has pain opening and closing his jaw because of inflammation of the joints there. He certainly seems to have difficulty walking - his hind legs seem stiff, possibly due to arthritis. She gave him a low dosage shot of a new anti-inflammatory drug (which is actually not recommended for cats, but desperate situations call for desperate measures). She says that if it's arthritis, he will be suffering a great deal of pain and if it's in his jaw as well, of course he would stop eating. So now we're back home, waiting to see if this will have any effect. She wants to see him again on Thursday, but she says we'll wait and see and if there's any improvement, maybe we'll wait longer, because she doesn't want him to suffer the trauma of being transported back and forth every couple of days. 

Once again, I left her clinic with high hopes - but I dare not let them get too high. Unlike the day before yesterday, he didn't go to eat of his own accord when we got home, though that might be because he ate much more at the clinic than he did on Sunday.

I'm praying very hard that we've stumbled upon the cause of Possum's distress. This morning, I was already trying to come to terms with the likelihood that the parting of the ways was before us. This evening, I have, once again, a glimmer of that "thing with feathers".

Monday, October 15, 2012

Update from Possum's Desperately Anxious Mummy

Greetings to all Possum's friends.

Well, I took everyone's advice and went to a different vet. This one has a much better bedside manner and, what's more, her clinic is only a five minute drive away instead of on the other side of town.

When I took Possum to see her yesterday afternoon and started telling her how he's stopped eating, practically the first thing she said was: "Does he want to die?" and then she turned to him and said: "Do you want to die? We're going to  have to change your mind about that, sweetie."
Oh, and she also said she likes senior kitties - they're more of a challenge!

I told her all Possum's history and she asked a lot of questions about how he had reacted to the loss of Pixie. Then she took blood samples but it wasn't possible to take urine samples, she didn't think Possum (who was severely dehydrated) had any urine to give. 

I told her about the appetite pills  Dr. Adrian had prescribed. She agreed about the pills, but not the dosage. Dr. Adrian prescribed Mirtazapine 15mg, a quarter pill 3 times a day. Dr. Einat said that's too high and recommends a quarter pill once every three days. Then she administered fluids by infusion and "force-fed" Possum some A/D Critical Diet with a fraction of the pill inside. Possum resisted at first but afterwards, actually licked some of the food from her hands.  She sent us home with instructions to administer saline subcutaneously, about 40 ml a day and to force-feed Possum if necessary for the next few days. She promised to send the blood tests to a very reliable lab in Tel Aviv and get the results to me today. Somehow, I went home with a feeling of hope - further buoyed up when we got home and Possum actually ate almost half a can of Fancy Feast without me having to resort to force. I was sufficiently encouraged to leave out more food for him overnight, in the hope of waking up in the morning to find he'd eaten most of it.

I was bitterly disappointed this morning to find the food untouched. I decided that, since Dr. Adrian had specified a dose of one quarter pill three times a day and Dr. Einat specified one quarter every three days, I would take a chance and give him another quarter this morning. It was a battle, I can tell you! Pill Pockets, or whatever they're called, don't seem to be available in Israel, so I made a Do-It-Yourself version with a morsel of chicken from the soup left over from Shabbat. I was afraid he was going to choke on it when I forced him to swallow it. It still hadn't had any effect an hour later when I went to work.

In the late afternoon, Dr. Einat called me with the results of Possum's blood tests. "I've got a surprise for you," she said. 
"Good surprise or bad surprise?" I thought, but did not say, though I was pretty sure from her tone of voice that it was good news.
"All of Possum's results are okay," she said. I asked what about urine tests. She said we could do them later although, in view of the blood tests, she, too, is wondering whether this is necessary at this time.
As you can imagine, I went home in much higher spirits than I had been in all day - only to have my hopes dashed once more when I opened the door, and Possum didn't come to greet me (as he used to before this crisis began). I also saw that the food I had left out for him hadn't been touched.

I administered his subQ fluids (I managed to prick my own thumb on the needle - I'm out of practice in the art of administering infusions, it seems) and then offered him a treat I had bought especially for him - sardines. People food. To my bitter disappointment, he wouldn't touch it. I decided there was no option but to force feed him, which I attempted, not very successfully.

But the worst was yet to come. I mentioned before that, even if he is trying to starve himself, at least he is still drinking. But this evening, I measured the water left in his bowl (which I had filled this morning with a litre of water - it's a big bowl, and it was 30 degrees Celsius in Jerusalem today).
The bowl still held a litre. I could have sworn I saw him drinking but it seems he just leans over the bowl and goes through the motions of drinking. Before that, he had been drinking about 250 ml of water a day, but I'd stopped measuring his water intake.

Now I am beginning to think he really does want to die and I can't understand why. Apart from his age, he's not been having any health problems. He's slowed down a bit but he was still playful and enjoyed being petted and having his tummy rubbed. For the last few days, though, he's shown no interest in that either, though he still came and snuggled up next to me last night for a while. True, he's alone for long periods throughout the day, now that he no longer has Pixie to keep him company. But it's 9 and a half months since she's been gone. Is it possible that it's only now that it has really begun to sink in that she's not coming back? Did I make a terrible mistake in not getting another furbaby to keep him company? Is it too late now? 
How can I make my sweet baby want to live?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Desperately Seeking Answers

Greetings everyone - Possum's Mummy here (by Possum's kind purr-mission, of course). 

That title should read - "Questions I'm Afraid to Ask".
For a while now, Possum has been going off his food. First he refused to eat his dry foods, then he started going off his moist dietary food, then even Fancy Feast could scarcely tempt him and for the past couple of days, he has, to all intents and purposes, stopped eating. 

I took him to the vet today. I didn't get any real answers. Apart from taking his temperature (normal, apparently), the vet didn't do any more tests. He said that if I wanted, he could do blood tests every week, but his tone implied that there was no point. In fact, he prefaced his remarks with "How old is he? Seventeen?", then looked me in the eye and said: "You know it has to come to an end some day."

But what does that mean? He doesn't know (and consequently, neither do I) why Possum's urine is like clear water. It's not a good sign, he says, but it could be caused by several things. He hasn't done tests except for the blood test three weeks ago. He seems to imply that at Possum's age (seventeen and a quarter) there isn't much point in putting him through the trauma of all sorts of tests, and asks: "And if there is something - then what?"
He also seems to think/imply that Possum's advanced age is explanation enough.

I asked him, when a cat is suffering from no malady other than old age, what can I expect, but he has no answer because he doesn't see otherwise healthy cats of such advanced years. He reminds me again and again that Possum is above the average lifespan even of "stay-at-home" cats. I point out that I have friends on the internet with cats of 18, 19, and even 20, that I have heard of cats living even to the age of 21. He replies that this is very rare - that even 17 is rare.

So I want to ask my fellow cat lovers - is what is happening to Possum merely the natural progression of age? Is he, in fact, trying to tell me - "Mummy, I'm so very, very tired. It's time to let go."
Is he asking me to help him to the Bridge? It goes against the grain to put a furbaby to sleep simply because he is old. But could this be what he wants? Yet he hasn't stopped drinking his water - and quite a lot of it too.
I don't want this responsibility, of having to decide whether to end his earthly life for him. What I've always wished for him is what I would wish for myself and for all my loved ones - that when the time is right, the end comes with a kiss, in one's sleep.

Has anyone any answers?


Friday, October 5, 2012

Changing Seasons

Greetings, Fellow Felines (and CA-N-I-N-E-S and Humans too)!

Autumn is here - well, almost. You remember that a few days ago, I told you the sky was a funny colour and there was a smell of rain in the air? Well, that very evening, there was a thunderstorm and it rained and rained. And Mummy wasn't here, because she went for supper to her Daddy - and she told me afterwards that the rain started just as they were bringing out the dessert, so they had to leave the sukkah and go indoors. Meanwhile, I was all alone here, watching these great big flashes of light and listening to the loud, boomy noises and wishing Mummy was with Me. But I wasn't afraid, kitties. No, indeed! I was just worried about Mummy, not having Me there to protect her from the scary noises and bright, flashy lights. She must have been terribly frightened. Poor Mummy. But it was her fault, going off like that and leaving Me. She made up for it, though - sort of - by bringing Me a kitty bag. Not the Moroccan-style fish that her step-sister made (Mummy said it was very spicy, this time, not good for kitties), but beef, which she cut up into small pieces and mixed with my dietary food. She wasn't sure if beef is good for kitties, so she only gave me a little (at least, that was her excuse), but when it was mixed in with the C/D moist food, it flavoured the whole bowlful, so I was satisfied and graciously let her know I was pleased with her offering.

I said autumn was almost here. For the rest of the week, the weather was nice and sunny - at least in Jerusalem, where we live, although I saw, on the computer, pictures from the rest of the country and the weather in the north wasn't nearly so good. Mummy thinks we've got a good few days of summer left. The main thing, of course, is that she'll be on holiday till the middle of next week, so I'll be enjoying plenty of Loving.

Shabbat Shalom, everyone!

Possum the MagnifiCat