Monday, January 09, 2006

Grandma's Kitty

I have an appointment scheduled for tomorrow morning at 11:15am to have my cat euthanized. This cat was my grandmother's cat - the grandmother who died last March. The grandmother whom was obsessed with animals.

Orange Kitty (that's what my grandmother named her) is now 22 years old. She has been in renal failure for the past nine months. We'd been managing the renal failure fairly well up until the last ten days or so. I've been giving her fluids (lactated ringers to be specific for medical folk) with a needle under her skin ("subcutaneously" for medical folk). We started doing this every other day last April, but increased it to nearly daily for the past two months or so).

This has been a very difficult decision for me. It's so different being on the other side of this decision making. Orange Kitty used to respond so well to the fluids. I made jokes that it was kind of like watering her like a lawn. Shortly after the fluids would go in, her fur would look much healthier. She would also bounce around like a kitten. The fluids worked better than cat nip for her energy level.

But then the past ten days, she has had trouble walking. She has fallen numerous times. I am always so frightened after she has fallen, that she may have hurt herself. She seems stiffer and readjusts her position in a way that suggests she may be in pain. We've given her a hot pad to lay on and that seems to help some. But now she can no longer walk very far and has been urinating on herself. Cats are so obsessive about cleanliness; I can't imagine she is happy all covered in urine. No matter what I use to clean her, she still smells of cat pee. She hasn't been eating anything substantial for ten days now. I've enticed her to a paper-thin fish flake every now and then, but that's it. The last time she ate anything more substantial, she began vomiting continuously.

A part of me thinks I have waited too long - that she has been suffering for too long and that is inhumane. Another part of me thinks I should wait until she dies naturally. I had no idea how difficult this decision would be. I wish I had a "palliative care" option for Orange Kitty. I wish we could get her symptoms under enough control that I felt comfortable letting her die naturally.

I am sad that Orange Kitty's death is inevitable.

I am afraid Orange Kitty's death might trigger more grief over the loss of my grandmother last year.

I blame myself for Orange Kitty's death, even though I know it was inevitable (the cat is 22 years old!)

I am mad at myself for adopting Orange Kitty when my grandmother died, because now I am having to grieve again.

I feel guilty for feeling a sense of relief in Orange Kitty's impending death - the relief from the waiting and the relief from the emotional difficulties I had giving her the fluids. (She hated getting the fluids and cried out every time I did it, so I felt like I was torturing her. I could never be a vet).

I am worried that my friends will run from me, because I am grieving yet AGAIN.

I worry that I am not grieving the "right way" and this will draw attention to my deficits as a palliative care nurse.

I am frustrated that I am not stronger and thus am not grieving more gracefully - again a fear that people will run from the awkwardness of my grief.

I am relieved that I have an appointment scheduled to have Orange Kitty euthanized at home. I have been making phone calls for 5 days now to 4 different vets trying to arrange for a home euthanasia.

I'm sad that Orange Kitty didn't die naturally - before she got to the point I felt it was inhumane to keep her alive.

I have mixed feelings about the fact that Orange Kitty is having a good day today. I'm relieved for her happiness, but frustrated for myself as I now question my decision of scheduling the euthanasia.

I am frustrated that I have to lay a blanket on my lap before holding Orange Kitty, otherwise all of my clothes wreak of cat pee. It feels like an emotional barrier as well as a physical one.

I am angry that my Mom accused me of being inhumane when I told her Orange Kitty was dying. She said I should have put her to sleep a long time ago. I am resentful that my Mom didn't offer sympathy and support instead, which is what I needed.

I am relieved that I have had the opportunity to lovingly hold Orange Kitty in my lap, despite the blanket between us, and to give her affection in her last days.

I feel guilty because I'm writing this post, instead of just sitting and being present with my cat who is dying.

I am sad that I must say goodbye to Orange Kitty, who has been so affectionate and charming, the confident queen bee of the house, even in her frail years. I will miss her warmth in my lap, her soft fur under my fingers, her enthusiasm for treats, the annoying way she sucked at my earlobes and licked my face, the unique way she moved with her double-jointed legs, how passively she argued with me about her fluids - making lots of noise but minimal wrestling, and her cute but scruffy face marked with two small growths from her renal disease. And I will miss her because she was my grandmother's cat - a physical being whom I could hold and love as a reminder of my dear Bobby.

May Orange Kitty feel well-loved during these last 22 hours of her life and may her spirit be reunited with Bobby's.

1 comment:

terry said...

I must let go of Tinkerbelle soon, I fear. May she meet Orange Kitty one day in a meadow filled with lovely hiding places, warm sunshine, and the sounds of birds all around.