Monday, December 07, 2009

Radio silence

This past week has been a scary roller-coaster ride of emotions, primarily when it comes to the cat. She went in for a vet visit on Wednesday and her kidneys were smaller and she'd gained a little weight, which seemed like promising signs. The labs came back on Thursday and the tiny bit of hope we had was dashed to pieces, as they told us that her kidney function has declined significantly (again). (We did manage to get rid of her e.coli infection, so that's something I suppose). She didn't eat much on Thursday or Friday and was lethargic and disoriented, so we had some friends over for dinner to say goodbye to her, since what we were doing, pallative-care wise, seemed not to be doing much for her anymore. She did eat a little bit of rotisserie chicken on Friday, but we didn't have high hopes that she'd ever do much getting out of the little nest she made for herself on the couch.

On Saturday we talked about our options, and made some plans for her end-of-life care that would have put Loki at Dan's parents' house, us in the car driving to California, and Petra in the ground this Thursday. We watched with tears in our eyes as Loki bathed her and kept her warm in her little couch nest. Sunday we saw Dan's parents and asked if we could bury her at their house, and then we went to the same Christmas tree farm as last year and found our Charlie Brown tree. When we got home, Petra seemed more energetic and far less disoriented than she had in days. She actually looked and acted like herself again, going so far as to do her trick for kitty treats eight times in a row last night, eating and drinking, using the litter box, and stretching out on the throw rug in the kitchen. She even begged for some chicken from my dinner plate as I was sitting next to her couch nest while eating last night, something she'd never done before.

The only thing we can think of is that she's rallying a bit thanks to several days of prednisalone treatment, a steroid we're giving her to help control her kidney inflammation. It won't make her better in the long-term but I guess in the short-term it's helping her feel a little better. The form of cancer she has is very aggressive and cats don't tend to live very long; she's already outlived the 4-6 weeks generally cited.

So now we don't know what to do. We want her to have as much good quality of life as we can. We know now for sure that it's renal lymphoma so she doesn't have very much longer at all, and we're (for the most part) at peace with that. But how do you know when is the right time to say goodbye?


Leah said...

My cat Min (1988-1997) had renal failure, and instead of being brave and letting her die at a good time, I let her just waste away for weeks and weeks, getting worse and worse, and I totally regret it. I don't know when is the best time for such a thing, but I do know that in Min's case I didn't do right by her to let it happen the way it did.

One of the good memories from those last days, though, was letting her sit on my lap and eat chicken from my plate at dinner.

I'll be thinking of you guys.

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

These decisions are never easy, but I suspect you and Dan will make the right one for the both of you.

Hang in there. I am sorry you are going through this right now.

Anonymous said...

I think you'll know when it is time. My first cat got very old and her health started generally (but rapidly) declining - one day after refusing to eat or walk, she looked at me and let out this little cry, and I just knew. She was ready. She wanted to rest.

I'm so sorry, my friend. I know this is tough.

Average Jane said...

That's such a hard decision, but I think you'll know when the time comes. We had a cat with rapidly-growing liver cancer and chose to keep her around a little while after her diagnosis, but it was quite easy to see when she was ready to go.

So sorry you're having to go through this.

Anonymous said...

That is such a hard decision to make, but like others have said, I am sure you will know the right time. I don't have personal experience with this, but one of my housemates recently had to go through it with her 16 year old cat that she had since he was a kitten. I will be thinking about you guys during the next few weeks!

Hillary said...

I'm sorry you guys are going through this. It's a sad decision to make but I think that you will know when it's time.

Simon said...

Man, what a drag. I'm really sorry you're going through this. Hang in there.

Cilicious said...

Usually, you just know.
But I think it is harder with cats.
With Pounce, she was 20 years old and had renal failure, but it was not her thinness and inappropriate pooping that made me realize.
It was her negative personality change.
I am really sorry for Petra and you two.