I think my kitty is fading....

gibby2015May 24, 2011

I think my oldest cat might be going into his final decline. He's getting close to 17 I think - he was an adult shelter cat so that's an estimate. I got him when he was about four.

He's had a lot of health issues over the last 6-8 years. He had three eye surgeries for entropion and an ulcerated cornea. That's still kind of a chronic thing as his eye seems to be sinking into his head. Then he's had IBD for quite a few years - reasonably well managed with diet but he has taken a fair amount of prednisolone since he was diagnosed and I know that's been hard on him. Then he was diagnosed with hyper-T a few years ago and has done very well with medication. However he's been getting quite frail, losing weight and just eats a little at a time. This started even before his last vet visit when all his lab results were good.

I kind of think he is moving toward his last hurrah. He's been through so much. I don't want to put him through a lot of trauma and heroics to keep him going. I'd like him to just have a nice, peaceful life - whatever kind of food he likes and sleeping wherever he likes best.

I've had one cat die peacefully on her own and two that had the Kevorkian treatment. I wish he'd just go peacefully on his own when he's ready but I suppose that won't be the case.

Here's a picture of him in his younger days. It's so sad to see him in decline now.

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what a sweet picture! i'm so sorry he is reaching the end. i know how you are feeling, having been down this road more times than i care to count. when it comes to euthanasia, i have always said i would rather do it one day too early than one day too late. i think we owe it to our pets to let them leave this world with dignity. (((hugs))) to you. your little guy has lived a long life with a LOT of love!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 6:24AM
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He is so beautiful........and being a marmalade tabby makes him even more so. I'm sorry, Gibby......it's hard to see them fade. I have also faced that with my older cats. A few of our ancient cats seemed to turn into the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland......not much more than a poof of fur and the smile.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 9:54AM
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Aww, what a sweetie ... but you've given him a wonderful life and love ...

Last Thanksgiving I had my first cat pass in her sleep, it was so peaceful .. all my other cats I've had to make the decision ... and the hardest part is figuring out when you think they've had enough. Hopefully, he'll let you know.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 12:43PM
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After losing my dear little Lily last week, I give you my sympathy. It's hard to know what to do but we had plans to take her to the vet the next day, but thankfully she died in her sleep in her favorite room in the house. Either way, it's a heart breaking time. I cry every day for her and think that just one week ago she was her mischievous little impish self..running and eating and being a cat.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 3:34PM
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Thank you all for your kind words of empathy. The old guy continues to carry on but it sure looks like it's hard. He has now started hanging out in a box in our pantry where our CRF cat used to spend a lot of time in his final months. That's kind of weird.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 11:29AM
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What a beautiful boy, and he looks so contented in the picture! As I own a 17-year-old with CRF and a nearly 20-year-old cat, my heart goes out to you.

Is it possible that age has blunted your little guy's senses of smell and taste? If so, one thing I find will get my cats interested in their food is to mix in some bonito flakes and sprinkle a bit more on top. Bonito flakes are shaved dried fish flakes that the Japanese use to make soups. They are usually called "katsuo-bushi" (but the label may well be all in Japanese) and come in small plastic envelopes. I just cut off a corner to shake some out and seal it up again with scotch tape.

I hope you will have some more good time with your boy.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 1:17PM
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The old guys is hanging in. I tried a bunch of different kinds of food for him and he seems to like all the varieties of Wellness grain free. So he eats but still just a little at a time and he is very thin. He hulks around and jumps on the couch and goes up and down stairs and purrs so that's all good. It's just hard to see him so thin and hulking around - hopefully he's not in pain.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 1:44PM
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Thin, hulking around, hiding...

I'd get him to the vet, or at least call the vet;
hiding in a protected area like a pantry indicates pain, weakness, and/or an awareness of vulnerability, & weight loss & limited mobility would concern me.

Cats don't show their pain;
to exhibit pain is to exhibit vulnerability/weakness & to invite predators.

I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 3:50PM
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My cat is fading too. I'm so glad to see this thread and read what everyone has done for their old cats.

My neutered male is 22 and although he still eats, he is so bony and looks skinny. His back legs are not working right, kind of wobbly...he can't really use them. He might have a bit of dementia too.

The biggest problem for me is his not using the litterbox like he used to. Never had a problem in his younger days, but I'm thinking his back legs can't support him now.

I've wanted him to pass in his sleep, but then what do I do with the body? I've wondered if he is in pain, he doesn't cry. And I've thought maybe it's time to euthanize him, but haven't been able to do it with him still purring and so emotionally attached to me.

I'm taking him into the vet next week, I'd heard cats don't show pain and was wondering how much pain he is in.

Making that big decision is so tough, how can the cats let you know it's time?


    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 4:25PM
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hollie_z9, sometimes it's clear when it's time and sometimes not. Your vet should be able to able to help you with that decision. One of our cats had been battling fibrosarcoma, and we knew the cancer had spread. When we brought her to the vet because she was having trouble going (to the bathroom), the vet looked at her and said it was time. Sometimes it takes an outside, objective person to see what we can't.

I wish you peace during this difficult time...

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 11:26AM
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spedigrees z4VT

I'm sorry to hear your old kitty is nearing the end, gibby and hollie and others with old timers. I use a guideline that if an old pet is still enjoying parts of his life and is not in acute pain, then it's best to let him enjoy his retirement. If he is still purring and enjoys your company, then I would not consider it time to let him go. One thing that gave my old cats in their 20s much comfort was an electric heating pad for a bed. Like your cat, they were thin and bony near the end and the heat source helped them a lot.

I have an old pony (35 yrs) in a similar final decline and I commiserate with what you're going through. Some days she seems to get a new lease on life and other times I wonder if perhaps I should be making final arrangements w/ the vet.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 2:56PM
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sylvia - he's not really hiding - not like my CRF cat did. He's been in that box a couple times but he often lays around in the wide open. He lays on his side and he's so think - I call him the waif. And by hulking - I mean his weird posture and gait. Right now I don't see any reason to take him to the vet again - he was just there not too long ago and all his lab work was normal and everything else we talked about were signs of aging and potential side effects of his meds. I think he's just declining and it's something we are going to have to accept. I think he's had a pretty long life considering all the ailments he's had.

I just think it is so sad to see them age like this - as it is sad to see that happen to people. I know it isn't my cat's time yet but hopefully I'll know when it is. I knew with my last cat when he could not long use the litter box. I felt like I could see in his face that he didn't want to go on in such an undignified manner.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 12:16AM
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Gibby, I can commiserate. Our oldest is going to be 18 next March (fingers and toes and everything else crossed). He has kidney problems for which he takes coq10 and vitamins (no symptoms except his water consumption though, he does not vomit or seem fatigued), is thin and seems to just graze on food.

I've tried scores of canned foods to tempt him, and the one he seems to inhale and which has actually put a bit of weight back on him are the Weruva food pouches. Maybe try those on your guy, might help to perk him up.

I agree it's very sad to see them aging and frail. Just a few years ago, he was a sturdy, middle-aged cat, and now he's our little old man. But he still enjoys life, he has his heat blanket, his favorite food, loves his treats and loves to be cuddled and to give kisses. Hopefully, he'll be comfortable for lots longer, and I hope the same for your kitty.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 9:36AM
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Hi Petra - ya, our little old man - we say that too. I think he seems even more frail next to my other two great big healthy cats. It's screen porch season now and he goes out there right away in the morning and parks himself in the sun for the day so that makes me feel better - and hopefully him too.

I'll see about that food next time I buy some. I bought some kind of pouches that he didn't like but I don't think that's what it was.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 7:01PM
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Just got back from the vet for my 22 year old cat. She said he is experiencing pain in his back and hips, his back legs are "hocked"...not straight.

She said 22 is a VERY old age for a cat and to consider what is best for my family. Since he has pee'd so much on carpet, and I have to do so much to clean up after him (and I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome so not much energy)....she thought it would be fine to euthanize him now because it will only be downhill from here.

I burst into tears in her office, my husband, and mother both died this year and I think those emotions are coming out in the potential loss of my cat.

If I do this, I really want to drop him off and not see him die, after all, I was the one who found my husband dead and there was no great joy in that.


    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 7:28PM
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spedigrees z4VT

Hollie, I'm very sorry for the losses you've suffered over the past year. Very very sorry. :-(

The way I have dealt with my old pets' euthanasias is to request that the vet administer a large enough dose of sedative that my old timer is completely unconscious. I say my good-byes at this time and leave before the vet gives the final shot because I can't bear to see my pet not breathing. This way I can be with my pet during his last moments of consciousness so he is not left alone, but I need not witness his actual death. My husband has opted to stay with our pets and told me that they had absolutely no reaction to the final shot, but simply stopped breathing, so I am confident that they did not suffer at all.

This might be an option for you, since it sounds like you take the same view I do, more or less. If not and you feel you must let him end his life with the doctors and clinic staff, you should still be at peace, knowing that you have given him a long and comfortable life.

Again I'm very sorry for all you recent losses, as well as the pending situation with your senior kitty.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 1:51PM
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Spedigrees, thanks for your experience with the sedative, I know I could not watch the death. Too many lately.

I'm babying him this last weekend. So often he seems like my same cat as always. I'd feel different if he had something horribly wrong.

Anyway, it's very hard to think of letting him go.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 8:43PM
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hollie - so sorry to hear about your cat - and the other losses you have experienced. Your cat has lived a very long life. My cats that have died have only been 16, 19 and 20. I know what you mean about the difficulty when they are just getting older vs. having something horribly wrong. It's very hard.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 12:25AM
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I'm so sorry, Hollie;
chronic fatigue affects every system in your body including your brain & your immune system, & stress increases its effects;
the less stress you can put on yourself, physically & emotionally, the better.

You've done extraordinarily well for your beloved kitty, &, for both of you, it's better for him to have a peaceful exit now rather than later-
for you because you simply cannot afford to expend your precious energy reserves, for him because he's very very old & giving him an easy "out" is the kind thing to do, *before* his life becomes miserable.

I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 1:01PM
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Thanks everybody, this is such a hard decision to make, even though the vet said it is time. She said there is no need to run tests, he probably has UTI, has a rapid heartbeat, his hind legs and back are very painful to him.

Like someone here said, sometimes it takes an outside observer to give an opinion. My stepson always loved this cat and when he saw him yesterday was shocked at how frail and bad he looked. When he saw him walking from behind, it was clear to him and became clear to me that he will soon be dragging his hind legs behind him. He said, it is time.

You can't help but remember them when younger. I have a window sill here that he would sit in all day and night, watching and smelling. He can no longer get up there and when I put him up he seems to take no enjoyment in it anymore.

So tomorrow is the day. I've changed my mind and will go with him for the initial sedative shot, he's never minded going to the vet. I think I have to sign a lot of papers, so I can't really send someone else.

This little ball of fur loves me like nobody has ever loved me. He always seeks out my body and curls up to me, I must seem a huge creature to him.

These animals, they break your heart.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 5:10PM
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I forgot to ask, Gabby, how is your old cat doing and what are your plans for him?


    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 5:21PM
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hollie - my kitty that's getting old and frail is only about 17. He was a stray so we're not exactly sure. I'm just trying to make sure he is comfortable and that he enjoys life as much as possible; i.e. food he likes, getting out on the porch and getting lots of TLC. He takes a couple meds for his various ailments so we carry on with that as well. Fortunately he's a very good pill taker so no problem there. Just continuing on as long as he's able to do the basic functions and seems to be enjoying life.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 1:58PM
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spedigrees z4VT

I'm so sorry Hollie. I've always found that it is hard to notice how our own pets' health has deteriorated or if they have lost a lot of weight, because we are with them everyday and the changes are so gradual.

I always request a larger dose of the sedative than the vet normally gives, so that my pets are completely asleep. I think it is less stressful for owner and pet alike.

I'm so sorry for your impending loss, but just remember your cat's love for you is something that will never die. You earned it and it is yours, even when your kitty is no longer with you.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 2:56PM
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hollie, i am so very sorry. i hope you are at peace today with your decision, it most certainly is the right one for your dear kitty.

i can so relate to your losses. i lost my own husband 3-1/2 years ago and not long after, lost both of our corgis. losing gary was unbelievably agonizing. losing both dogs was like losing a part of him all over again.

someone once said this to me and i would like to pass it on to you...death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.

((((hugs)))) to you, dear.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 7:00PM
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It's never easy.... Losing a a pet is the worst part of the best part of our lives.

You have my utmost sympathy during this sad and difficult time.


    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 7:06PM
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hollie - so very sorry that the time has come for your kitty. It's such a hard thing to have to go through but the price we have to pay for all the enjoyment we have with our little fur balls. Though your kitty will no longer be with you, you will have many fond memories of your time together.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 10:22PM
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remember Queen Elizabeth's speech to the US after 9/11?

She said grief is the price we pay for love.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 2:40PM
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Thanks so much for all your sympathetic replies, really, they help me so much and make so much sense. And a particular shout out to sylvia for being one of the few people who know what Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is like.

I took my cat to the vet with a friend to be put down, but I emotionally couldn't do it so ended up boarding the cat with all the euthanasia papers signed. I am away for a week since my house is being termite tented, I finally got up the guts today to call them and tell them to put him down. I've been moping around all day and so sad. I wanted to be with him when they gave him the sedative but I'm just not strong enough, I would have whisked him off the table, I could not bring myself to watch.

But it was the right decision, the vet (the third I spoke with who saw my cat) once again said he probably has lots of things wrong with him, he just hasn't been tested. For sure his kidneys are shutting down.

So you guys on this site have been so understanding, it is very hard. All my other recent deaths have made me emotionally weak, I guess. I am far from peace with the decision but the vets convinced me that he would have 1-6 months to live. I'd rather do it now than watch him go further downhill or find his dead body. Also better for my dog who was very attached to him.

So thank you from the bottom of my heart.


    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 10:58PM
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Hollie - I've been thinking about you. I'm glad you checked back in. In time your heart will heal. When my last kitty passed I wrote a story about his life on a blog that a few close friends read. It made me feel better to kind of memorialize him with a picture and the story. I still go back and read it sometimes - the memories of him now warm my heart though it was so very sad when he died.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 11:55PM
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hollie_z9, please know that many hearts are with you during this sad, sad time.....


    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 8:04AM
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I began beating myself up badly for putting my cat down too early. I missed him so much and he was still eating, still had common sense and clear eyes, still moving about although with some pain. I had to call my shrink about trying to forgive myself for a terrible mistake I'd made.

Then a lady with years in cat rescue told me I'd absolutely done the right thing. She said cats are so fastidious about covering up their pee and poop, she said my cat knew he was not functioning right and was humiliated and ashamed he could not do the litter box any more or even walk to the litter box (too far, used carpet). She said lots of things including the illnesses and pain he probably had leading to this problem and since he was over 22 years old.

After listening to her I finally was able to let myself off the hook about this and now remember Archie as the wonderful soul he was, a love that will always be with me.

These decisions are so very difficult. Someone posted that it's better to do it too early than too late, maybe that is what I did. Someone else told me to look for a sign...the night before, he lovingly looked at me and put his paw on my arm in love. My shrink thought that was the sign he was ready to go.

He was a cat in a million.


    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 9:17PM
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Hollie.......I'm so sorry for everything you've been through.

I know it's difficult, but please accept that you did the right thing. It sounds as though your cat definitely gave you a sign, or 'the look', and thankfully you gave him the help he needed.

Don't dwell on the vets comments about your cat living another 1-6 months. It makes me uncomfortable when they guess at the time an animal has left since I've always found them to be wrong. It has happened with some of my pets and recently with my DIL's dog that was diagnosed with some type of cancer. They gave him 1-3 months yet he went downhill within 5 days.
Think positive thoughts about your kitty and give your dog lots of extra hugs.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 12:08AM
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Hollie, so sorry for what you've been going through. When it was time for one of my cats to go I felt as your rescue friend describes. My kitty could no longer function in his usual meticulous and fastidious way and when he looked at me I was sure he felt humiliated and did not want to continue on in such an undignified way. I felt like he was looking at me wondering why I would make him continue on like this. Maybe your Archie was feeling the same way. In the end I felt like I let him go in a peaceful and dignified way and that it was what he wanted. It sounds like you may also be coming to this belief. It's really hard to got through this but in time your heart will heal.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 12:51AM
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