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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 11:26 AM Thread Starter
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when to let go

hi all
I have a 16 year old domestic orange tabby named Nacho. He has been my cuddle bunny for years. he is not like most cats, that are aloof and disinterested in humans, he has always been sort of obsessed with me. He follows me from room to room, has to always lay on my lap or legs, and my husband says he howls for me when I am not home. So, you can see, we are very very close.
A week ago, Nacho howled in pain, and stopped eating. (he is usually a chow hound that wakes me up to eat at 5am). It was on a sunday morning, so we took him to an emergency vet hospital, not our regular vet. They kept him in the hospital for three days. He was dehydrated although he was drinking massive amounts of water, and huge amounts of urine was being produced. the vet suspected diabetes, but did not give him insulin right away to see if the sugar levels came down. he was over 800..it came down the same day to about 200, so they said no diabetes, just stress related. His kidney levels were high, maybe kidney disease, the levels came down the same day, so no severe if it was. He was constipated, so they gave him enemas to empty him out. He has two different blood work ups and an xray to rule out cancer, mass or fluid in his stomach. All blood work was fine, no mass, no cancer, no fluid. All good news, right? they sent him home with me with just an appetite stimulant since he was barely eating, and an anti acid for his stomach. that's it. they said they cant see any other reason except he is old.
Well, he came home so weak, he cannot barely walk. He was worse coming home. they had IVs, catheters, and needles everywhere on him and he was black under his neck with bruising they said from a line going in there. shaved his stomach, his arms. He is barely moving around, he walks about two feet and then has to rest. he is drinking water, and going in the litter box a small amount of urine, but no BM in a week. He won't eat at all, and is very lathargic. He does purr when we pet him and he seems interested in us as he tries to follow me from the rooms some times, the rest of the time, he hides behind my desk. He is so weak and his eyes do not look right. kind of dialated all the time.
The biggest part of me says no more Drs, no more needles, no more IVs and small cages, and catheters and pain, just stay home and rest until it is his time to go. The vet says he is not in pain or we would know it.
I have people telling me it's time to let him go and put him to sleep. I just can't say the words to end his life. not when he is not suffering, and happy just to lay next to me right now. I want him to die happy, not alone in a cage.
How do I know I am doing the right thing? how do I know for sure he is not suffering? he is going downhill daily, but how long can he hang on this way? If it is his time to go, I understand that, but I dont want to end it just because he is old. how do you let go? how do I know it is time?
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 12:59 PM
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Have you tried force-feeding him? (wet food in a syringe-like a nursing syringe)? If he's not eating, that's the reason he's not pooping. The lethargy doesn't sound good - could be anemia or kidney disease. Have you talked to your regular vet? I assume you asked the ER vet to forward all the info on his treatment and diagnosis to your regular vet.

Frankly, if he's that lethargic, it is probably time. I am sorry.

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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 01:42 PM
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I'm so sorry you and Nacho are going through this. It's a gut-wrencher, that's for sure. In my limited experience I've erred on the side of earlier euth than later, but it's obviously a decision each pet owner has to make for themselves. Just know there are a lot of people on here who have gone through something very similar (in my case, my 3-year old cat who had epilepsy), and we're interested to hear how this goes.

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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 01:52 PM Thread Starter
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I went online and read many articles about letting him die "peacefully" at home. they all say the same thing...there is no such thing as peacefully at home. he most likely is suffering and not showing it to us. Once I realized this, I called the vet and I am taking him in this afternoon. we will see what they say once again. I do not want him to slowly suffer because I think he is happier at home. he looks so pitiful, he is quiet and does not groom himself at all. his chin stays soaking wet with water from when he drinks, and he has urine around his rear and does not wash himself any more.. I think he may feel so bad, but it trying to be brave for us. I do not want to prolong his pain and suffering. I can't stop crying and this is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. my kids are grown and gone. he became my closest buddy, and now it is time to let him go.. why does love hurt so much.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 02:56 PM
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Awful for you - I wish I knew what to say that hasn't already been said.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 09:47 PM
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I'm sorry I know how difficult this must be for you.

How was Nacho prior to the last week? From what you describe, it sounds like this was kind of a sudden thing.
If he was doing pretty well before, I'd say do what you can to get him through this rough patch. He might look awful right now, but it doesn't mean he can't get better. If he's not eating, that's certainly contributing to the lethargy and probably making him feel worse. I think the first step would be to get food in him however you can. He can't start getting better unless his body has the energy to do so.

Syringe feed if you need to. Try tempting him to eat in other ways. Pick foods he really likes (I would go with canned only if you're able especially since he was dehydrated.) Fancy feast has a reputation as "kitty crack" and has gotten many cats to eat that haven't eaten anything else. The cheap canned foods are more tempting to some cats as well. Try cooked shredded chicken, or warming up his food with a bit of hot water or a few seconds in the microwave to make it smell more. (Also good for hydration.) Some cats won't eat if they can't smell the food. You could even try making a soup with warm water to see if he'll lap it up instead. Also, many pet stores sell a product called Nutri-Cal which resembles a hairball remedy but is actually a high calorie supplement for pets who are not eating enough.
Does the vet think he might still be dehydrated? That would make him feel worse as well.

For me and my pets, it is time when the bad days start to outnumber the good, when life has become a chore, when they don't enjoy the things they used to enjoy, or when they are in pain that is not going to get better. It's a terribly difficult decision, and sometimes we hang on for our sake rather than our pets because it is so difficult to say goodbye. Your heart will tell you when it's time, though, and when that time comes, you can do one last kind thing for him by letting him go peacefully without suffering.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 11:29 PM
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"I have people telling me it's time to let him go and put him to sleep. I just can't say the words to end his life. not when he is not suffering, and happy just to lay next to me right now. I want him to die happy, not alone in a cage. "

I'm not advising you to put him down, but I just wanted to let you know that this isn't exactly how it goes, at least not in my experience. Unfortunately I've put several down in the last year...my mom's very old and sick dog, our 15 year old cat and our 8 year old cat Tinners who had severe pancreatitis. In each case (at different vets' offices) we were allowed to be with them at the end. They put us in an exam room. They gave us time to say goodbye. When we were ready, they administered 1 injection (a heavy duty sedative). Several minutes later they came back to administer the second injection, the one that would actually stop the heart. Since the animals were already sedated, the actual death was very calm--no struggling and no fear. In each case I held or sat beside the animals the whole time. The vets took things slow and let me have as much time as I needed. As horrible as losing my babies was, it was as gentle and peaceful a passing as I could have asked for.

Perhaps call your vet and ask them what their procedures are, so that you would know what to expect, if you decide that the time is right to go that route.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 11:33 PM
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I hope for the best for Nacho, its a difficult time for both of you! Stay strong!!
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 04:14 AM
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When I decided in consultation with the vet that Trixie had to be PTS, I had the vet come to the house. Maybe you could consider the same thing.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-16-2012, 04:46 PM Thread Starter
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I am writing this to let everyone know that my Nacho is now at the Rainbow Bridge.
We took him into our vet once again, she told us that he was about 2 days from being in a coma and gone.. she suspected that he had a very rare disease for cats, Cushing's disease. because he was so old, and frail, it would take quite some time to bring him out of the drop he was in...dehydrated, and sugar levels up, so he would have to be hospitalized once again, just to try to save him before we even deal with the disease. It could take a long time, plus there was no guarantee that he would still make it. the disease would be life long and very complicated for him. since he was suffering so much, I had promised him no more Drs, no more IVs, no more needles, hospitals. I wanted him to rest and find peace. He was so weak that he barely moved as we held him. The dr administered the shot in his leg as my husband held him. He was gone in seconds. No more pain, no more suffering.
He lived 16 wonderful years with me and I am a better person because of his love. He was so special to me, I can't stop the intense pain. but I know, it was best for him and we did the right thing so his suffering could stop. I loved him so so very much.
RIP my Nacho.
thank you everyone for listening.
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