Bye, Dear Friend
Being on the road with pets is always a challenge when it comes to vet care. However, when it gets beyond needed the care of a vet – saying goodbye – it’s even worse. You go through the emotions of the goodbye – someone who has been your companion for a very long time starts to deteriorate. Then you need to trust that your decision is the right one. For our girl Nala, we had made the decision. Right after Thanksgiving, she started to go outside the litter box. After the obligatory vet visit, we found out she was in kidney failure. We were told that given her age, with treatment, she could last two weeks or two years. She was still a kitty, we felt, that had some meowing to do so we gave her a chance to fight. Three days of 12 hours of fluids later, her numbers were looking really good.
She went back to eating, drinking and being a good girl in the box. But then…things started to deteriorate after about 4 weeks. She went on a hunger strike, she started peeing everywhere (even laying in it), and while her appetite came back we knew it was the beginning of the end. They gave her 2 weeks to 2 years and we got 4 weeks but it was worth every day more we had with her. Tests confirmed our fears. We knew it was a matter of time. Her personality was leaving, she lost her meow, and despite eating like a champ she did little else but sleep.
Even though we knew it was the right time, it killed us to make the decision. We had asked our vet about the procedure and they explained how they’d bring her in back and give her a catheter. Then they’d administer the first solution to make her drowsy and then the second which would put her to sleep. This sounded horrible to us. Nala wasn’t exactly a vet kitty (what cat is?) and bringing her in back – even for a second – just wasn’t right for her or us.
On the eve of the New Year’s day, we called Lap of Love which is a hospice and euthanasia mobile vet service available in 30 states. There, we found Dr. Toby (also known as Dr. Toby Goldman, DVM). We spent three hours with her. She even sought out Chris, prompting him to pet her…and then she peed uncontrollably. First on the seat, then on Ally (we think she was finally telling Ally what she thought of her). She couldn’t control herself at all. It killed us – she wanted to be pet, she wanted love, but her body just couldn’t do it anymore.
Lap of Love does both hospice and euthanasia so the key is to review the pet’s case and understand where they are in the process. It was clear that despite her wanting petting and food, it was time. With the fire roaring, Nala sleeping in “her spot”, surrounded by her favorite toys and the people who loved her, Dr. Toby talked us through the process. When we felt we were ready, the first drug was administered. Dr. Toby told us we were doing the right thing…something we knew, but something that is always reassuring to hear. He spoke with a pleasant and quiet voice to both us and Nala. He gave us 15 minutes or so with her being aware(ish) and we spent the time just being with her – speaking to her (telling her she was a pretty kitty and soothing her by saying her name slowly – something she loved hearing her name as “Naaaaaaalaaaaa”), petting her, reassuring her. She was ready. We were as ready as we could be. Then the final drug was administered. She was gone.
This is the eulogy we wrote on Facebook:
Today we lost a beautiful soul. It is with heavy hearts that we said goodbye to our Nala. She was a Siamese who had piercing blue eyes – probably the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. She was always the hostess and charmed everyone she met.
She was mischievous and a night owl; she never met a twist tie or Christmas ornament she didn’t want to destroy. She would often “catch” dog toys (the small squirrel was her favorite) and announce to all who would listen that she caught it all by herself. She was a graceful goofball and a gentle soul who acted as our grief counselor…and during this time of grief it makes us miss her even all the more.
She had 16 (almost 17) good years, but it still feels too soon. She came to us as a mischievous puffball kitten and left us as the most loyal friend. Rest in peace, Nala Girl. We will miss every single thing about you. May you cuddle up to Bailey and have a toy squirrel near you at all times.