Yesterday was a very sad day in our household, y'all. (I feel the need to talk "southern" since I AM in the south.)
We had to put our beloved cat, Bitty, to sleep.
Let me back up a bit, and tell you the rest of the story.
I believe I mentioned that while we do have other pets, only my Yorkie comes with us to Florida. Our cat stays with a dear friend, Howie the cockatiel stays with my parents, and Derby the gigantic goldfish stays with my sister.
So, Bitty, our cat of 11 years, was staying over our friend's house. She LOVES it there. She is the only pet in the house, she doesn't have a pesky dog to deal with, and she is treated like a queen. I think she was secretly sad to come back to our house when we came home last year. Back to the house.....with the dog.
Anyway, she went to our friend's house, and my friend emailed me and said that she wasn't eating very much. We thought that she just needed to get adjusted to her new temporary home. She is an animal, and sometimes changes can be hard on them.
Then, she told me that she was starting to eat more, but she was not her normal piggish self. This cat was not small by any means. She weighed almost 10 lbs. For her not to eat much is very rare. She will usually sit by her bowl and "meow" for more food.
My friend contacted me a couple days ago, and said that she thought she had a hairball that she couldn't cough up. She was trying to, but she couldn't get it to come out. So, she put some Vaseline on her lips. I guess they will lick it off, and it will coat their digestive track and help lubricate it so the hairball can slide out more easily. I know.....Eeeewwww!
She said that since that didn't work, she went to the store and bought a special medicine made specifically to get rid of hairballs. She gave that to her, and although she was trying and trying to get it up, it just wouldn't come out.
She told me that she heard a noise that sounded like a man was in her house, and since she lives alone, this totally freaked her out! She then realized it was just Bitty, trying to hack up that darn hairball.
Yesterday, she told me that she was starting to get really worried about Bitty, as she was just lying in a ball, and not really moving around very much. There also hadn't been any poop in her litter box, which meant she wasn't eating.
So, we made arrangements for my parents to take her to the vet.
I started googling how to get rid of hairballs, and discovered that sometimes, hairballs can grow to the size of a baseball, and then the cat cannot get them out, and surgery is required to remove them. I fully expected that while this hairball situation could be serious, it could be fixed with surgery.
My parents took her to the vet, and then had the vet call me after she had checked Bitty out.
The vet told me that Bitty was in very bad shape, and that she did not think that she had a hairball. She was in liver failure, and her body was shutting down. Her temp was 10 degrees colder than a cat's should be. She could barely hear her heart because there was too much water around it.
She told me that we could spend thousands of dollars on testing, and trying to possibly treat her, but that she really thought we were dealing with a tumor in her chest. All the money that we would spend would simply prolong her life for a bit, but in the end, she would most likely not survive, and her quality of life would be very poor. With her being an "elderly" cat, and being so far gone already, her prognosis was not good.
Talk about a shock! I was expecting to hear that she had a hairball!
My daughters were already starting to cry as they heard me on the phone. The vet told me that she thought the best thing would be to euthanize her, and explained the process to me.
She kindly told me that by euthanizing her, they would just give her an overdose of a sedative. Since I have recently been sedated for my heart cath, I know what that is like. Only, instead of waking up, her heart would stop, and she would pass away.
We made the decision to euthanize her, and I proceeded to tell my girls, who had already heard some of what I was saying on the phone, and could see that I was crying.
I explained what the vet had told me, and how even though we were sad, it was best for Bitty, and that she was currently suffering. She deserved better than that.
I felt horrible having to make the decision to end her life when we weren't even with her. We would not get to say our last goodbyes. We couldn't pet her soft, silky fur one last time, and tell her how much we loved her, and how much we would miss her.
I suppose it was better this way. We didn't have to be there when she died. It would have broken our hearts even more.
She was our cat for 11 years. She was a stray that we found on our porch, in the middle of a blizzard. We had seen her and her cat friend around the neighborhood when the weather was warmer. Then, when it got cold, she camped out on her porch.
I was NOT a cat lover. I tolerated them, but that was all. I did not want a cat in my house. My middle daughter was 2 years old at the time. I felt sorry for the cat, who was just skin and bones, and brought her into our house. I figured that if she could hold her own with my 2 year old, she just might get to stay.
And she did.
She was so gentle and loving with the girls. She meowed her way into this dog lover's heart.
She was the best cat that a person could ever have. She didn't get on my counters (BIG pet peeve of mine!) she went potty only in her litter box (except that one time that Hubs closed the laundry room door and forgot to open it back up, so she went in my plant. Hey, a girl's gotta go somewhere!) and she took turns sleeping on my girls' beds. They adored her. We all did.
She wasn't overly social, and hated to be picked up, but she was loving in her own way.
Towards the end of her life at our house, she was starting to become more social with us. She would let me pick her up and cuddle her for a few minutes. She would risk "the dog" so that she could be by us. I think she knew that her time with us was growing short, and wanted to squeeze all the love she could into her last days.
She made our lives fuller, richer, and more lovable. And for that, we will always be grateful.
Goodbye, my Kitty Bitty Baby. We hope you know how much you meant to our family. Our house is going to feel emptier without you in it.