I didn’t realize that a few hours after I wrote my last post I would be sharing in the heartbreak of losing a family member.
In my house, animals are part of the family. I am one of those people that talk to their dog like he is going to answer me back. Sometimes, because his personality is so big, I think he is on the cusp of opening his mouth and actually carrying on a conversation. My little cat, Sadie, has her own version of conversations by answering back with little bursts of meows and purrs when you speak to her. My other cat, Bibs, would roll over on his back to prove to you who exactly was a “pretty boy.”
No one can convince me that animals do not have personality and spirit.
Bibs, the cat, could probably have been considered a “senior” cat. I don’t know, I don’t really like putting those terms because I had a cat that lived for 22 years. Bibs was only 10. He was more of a middle aged cat. I like that better.
His last morning started off with him refusing to come out of an unusual place, and when he did come out, it was with a lot of protest. I drove him and my mom to the emergency vet. I hate going places like that. I am sure that not all emergency vets are how this place was, but you could tell that they did not want to be there. I totally get that, but you are in a career that is to service people that are scared for their pets. It isn’t very calming when you can see in someone’s face that they would rather be at home instead of pressing on your cat’s stomach to see if he has a blockage.
Guess what…I don’t want to be here either, ma’am.
Bibs had been throwing up since the night before. Nothing was thought of it because sometimes he ate too fast. But he did it again in the morning and it was no longer food, it was frothy and brownish.
The vet thought he may have a blockage in his kidney or something. I don’t remember now. What I do remember is her squeezing the fuck out of his stomach then almost dropping him on the floor to see how he was walking. I zenned out a little bit and practiced good breathing techniques so I would not cuss out this bitch for manhandling my cat.
Tests were ran. They came back with abnormal counts on cells that made the vet think he may have stomach cancer. They gave him fluids and said that before any decisions were made, we should wait until Monday and get an ultrasound at our normal vet’s office.
I was happy to get out of there. I felt like us coming in was a burden to their day. Please, don’t let me interrupt your day of doing your job.
Bibs was brought home, and stayed with me the rest of the afternoon into the evening. He slept all day without really moving. When he did finally stand up, it was to pee into the box he was sleeping in (thanks, sir) and then try and climb on my bed. I helped him up there because I didn’t want him to stress out. He still seemed in a little pain, but he didn’t seem bad off. Then his purrs seemed to turn into little growls.
I like to be informed, even if it is overly informed. I like to be prepared and know what is going on. So while I was keeping a close eye on Bibs, my other eye was on internet searches for symptoms of a dying animal. Some of his symptoms matched what was happening. Some of the same symptoms matched those of just a sick cat. But I read more articles and experiences on dying animals than what I ever wanted to before.
My mom came home from a church thing she had organized, and she took Bibs with her. I tried to get her to lay down and rest because we had both been up since about 5 am that morning, but she refused. She wanted to keep an eye on her baby.
I needed to lay down because I was exhausted.
I’m a worrier.
I was not only worried about Bibs, but about my mom, too. I don’t like seeing my mom in pain or sad, I don’t like seeing her hurting. And we had already started the day thinking that Bibs was going to be put to sleep. She now had a little hope in her. But I still worried.
I laid down around 4 am. She woke me back up around 45 minutes later. She was freaking out, and I didn’t know why. I got up and went to the other side of the house. I saw why she was freaking out.
In just a matter of minutes, Bibs went from being kind of okay to actively dying.
That process was so fast.
I’ve been in the presence of death before. I’ve been there when death has started and when it has been completed. This was very fast, even for me. I was devastated, but I held my shit together. This may have been my cat first, but he quickly became Momma’s cat, and her baby was dying. So I held it together for her. I had to.
I asked her several times if she wanted to go back to the emergency vet. She said no, and we both agreed that because this transitioned so fast, he probably wouldn’t make it anyways. We were right. Also, she didn’t want to have this very heartbreaking and personal moment in a place that its people seemed so cold.
I understood and I sat behind her while she laid on the floor next to Bibs. He was warm, covered in a blanket with my mom’s hands petting him, reminding him how much she loved him. My heart broke for her. I didn’t have time for it to break for myself.
I watched Bibs’ eyes go to a stare that told me whatever was still happening, it was no longer him. He wasn’t there anymore. This was just the body finishing the process. I ran through all of the information I had read earlier, checking off things in my head that was happening.
Then for some reason, I said out loud something I read. In all of my little bit of research, no matter what the cat had died from, everyone mentioned that they had either found their cat in a weird position or watched them have several violent seizures just before they took their last breath. I felt the need to prepare her for that. Maybe I even said it out loud to prepare myself. Either way, I am glad I said it. About two minutes after I mentioned the seizures, they started happening.
I am glad I prepared my mom for that. It was horrible enough to watch, already knowing what would happen. I can only imagine what it would have been like if I hadn’t mentioned it.
The whole night, that was the time I had to walk away and had a slight panic attack.
Not because of what was happening. I couldn’t stop that. I wanted to, God, I really did. If I had my way, all the animals would stay alive forever and be happy and healthy. But no, I couldn’t stop what was happening.
My panic attack came from the fact that I would have done anything in that moment for my mom not to have to watch that happen. I had these weird second long moments of thought of how could I make her not have to see that right now. Could I knock her out? Could I run and cover her eyes for her? Could a hole open up and swallow her until it was over? Anything…I would have done anything. And I was panicking because I could do nothing to help her. Nothing at all.
The only thing I could think of doing was to repeat, “I am so sorry you have to watch this,” over and over.
Then after a few minutes, Bibs took his last breath and was gone.
Momma wept, oh how she wept. She stayed beside him for a long time. I waited until she was ready to go outside and prepare a spot for him.
It’s weird when you lose a pet. You know that they do not live as long as us, but you invite them into your lives anyways. You invite them there for the fun and love, knowing but still never prepared for the moments when you know it is over. After they are gone, you have to change routines. Instead of putting down food for two cats, it is now one. But the first few days, you still accidentally put down two plates. You still hurry and make sure the door is closed all the way because you don’t want the cat to slip out behind you. You wait for that familiar thump of a cat jumping on the back of the chair. You wait for the nip of sharp teeth on your hand or arm because you aren’t paying him enough attention.
Momma has gotten better over the past week. She still slips up sometimes and gets tears in her eyes because she has asked if Bibs was locked in the other room on accident, or because she has called the other cat by his name. But she is better, not as sad.
The circle of life goes on and on.