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Cat PTS yesterday - not really coping

(36 Posts)
nolongersurprised Sat 15-Feb-20 00:51:45


We had 3 cats including two five year old males from the same litter. The biggest and we thought healthiest one, called Chester, was PTS yesterday after suffering what the vet thought was probably a saddle embolus (large blood clot affecting blood supply to the legs). Apparently the most common cause of this on cats is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy which is fairly insidious and hard to spot until the cat is really sick or there’s a complication. Cancer is another possibility.

It’s all been fairly shit - he went missing on Monday and didn’t come back till Thursday with limp, infected legs, painful legs although there was some blood supply. The first vet thought it may have been trauma secondary to being hit by a car - although she wasn’t sure - with secondary infection and he was transferred to the local cat ICU and given loads of antibiotics, pain relief and fluids and medication to support his blood pressure. There was no spinal injury, no fractures and no other injuries. He made it through the night and there was a plan to amputate the worst leg. We knew he was sick but also felt he had a chance. I actually went in overnight to say goodbye but then he picked up again so I think that gave me false hope.

In the morning we consulted with the vet ICU specialist who said the pattern of infection of both legs was symmetrical, there was no sign of trauma and it was entirely consistent with a thromboembolic event. I am a doctor and I agreed based on how dusky and floppy his legs were when I first saw him. She also said that he was struggling with the sepsis and while theoretically he might pull through this illness with an amputation of the worst leg there was a good chance it would happen again in a few months. He was pretty sedated with the fentanyl infusion and overall comfortable but still in pain when his legs were moved. His blood pressure wasn’t great and he hadn’t passed urine. It was an easy decision to have him PTS and he passed with me telling him how much we all loved him (other cats and the 4 kids).

We have decided to get an autopsy because if it was HCM because then we’ll get his brother checked out with a cat Echo and he can go on prophylactic medication to reduce clots, though hopefully he doesn’t have it.

I’m just really struggling. The kids are devastated but OK because they knew he might die from the onset.

I’m not coping with 2 parts of it though. The first is that he would have been in so much pain when the clot happened. The vet said cats go away to hide when things like this happen and I’m grateful he came back so we could make him comfortable but it breaks me to think of him hurting by himself.

The second thing I’m struggling with is that we noticed a few weeks ago that he wasn’t eating as much and I wish we’d taken him to get checked out, although he didn’t have a heart murmur and hasn’t lost weight and was still energetic. Realistically I know he would’ve examined normally and there would have been no need to refer for an echo but I’m stuck in that “what could we have done earlier” thought pattern. We just joked that he was probably getting fed across the road because he used to hang out there.

Sorry this is so long. I’m surprised by my grief, I’ve had other cats PTS before but they were old and this was so sudden.

Presumably this is just normal grief and it will pass? We’re getting him cremated and the kids are choosing the best picture of him to put on the decorative box.

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TenShortStories Sat 15-Feb-20 01:02:47

You don't sound like you have anything to feel bad about, it's just the 'normal' awfulness of knowing how much suffering someone you loved went through flowers

There's not much you could have done to change the outcome if it wouldn't have been picked up when he was off his food. And like you say, the fact that he came back for comfort is really quite special, it could so easily have been different.

Will you bury the box? Could you have a commemorative bush for the garden?

I think it sounds like you are doing a wonderful job of showing your kids how loved and cherished a family pet can be.

nolongersurprised Sat 15-Feb-20 01:35:10

There's not much you could have done to change the outcome if it wouldn't have been picked up when he was off his food.

Thank you for your kind words. He looked healthy, I remember looking at him carefully when he wasn’t as enthusiastic as usual waiting for his food but deciding that he didn’t look sick. He was actually at the cattery at the vets last month and they always get them reviewed if there are concerns but no one was worried. Even when he was so sick with sepsis (due to infection caused by the bad blood supply to his back legs) his blood tests didn’t pick up anything that looked like a chronic illness.

Even if we didn’t get an autopsy we’d have cremated him anyway as the weather is wild and there have been floods recently. There are nice urns and little decorative boxes but I don’t know if we’ll keep on a book shelf of bury yet.

This picture was from last week, he doesn’t look skinny!

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Gingerkittykat Sat 15-Feb-20 01:47:12

I'm sorry for your loss and agree you couldn't have done differently. If we took our cats to the vets every time they were a bit finicky with food then we would be there constantly.

Take the time to grieve your boy and be kind to yourself.

HeIenaDove Sat 15-Feb-20 02:04:01

Im so so sorry for your loss. What a sweet handsome boy thanks

nolongersurprised Sat 15-Feb-20 02:30:58

Thank you both!

It didn’t help that I had to decide to have him PTS then go to work, all on literally no sleep because I’d been so worried the night before. I tried to cancel my day but I’d specially asked some people to come in to talk about worrying results and it seemed unfair to drag that out over the weekend. I then had to be present for the kids to answer all the questions.

Today I’m only doing pleasant activities with the kids and ignoring the actual cleaning. It’s so sad, feels like he was taken in the prime of his life.

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Toddlerteaplease Sat 15-Feb-20 02:42:11

I agree with the others, there is nothing you could have done differently. He sounds like he had a wonderful life with you. It does get easier.

Shinesweetfreedom Sat 15-Feb-20 02:47:50

That sounds like total shit.
Sorry I have no useful words,I know in the same situation I would be on the floor.
As another poster said,be kind to yourself.
I am sorry for your loss.

PixieRabbit Sat 15-Feb-20 02:54:06

Oh I’m so sorry. You sound like a wonderful cat-mum.

I want to cuddle him, what a handsome boy.

nolongersurprised Sat 15-Feb-20 03:03:54

*That sounds like total shit.
Sorry I have no useful words,I know in the same situation I would be on the floor.*

I keep thinking of him coming out of hiding and bravely making his way home, I doubt he could have used his back legs so it must have been really hard and painful. I don’t mind as much that he went through that effort but still died because his pain was under good control on the fentanyl infusion, and, judging from his pupils he was as high as a kite.

I know it will get better but I’m sobbing like a baby.

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inspo Sat 15-Feb-20 03:13:04

It's no surprise he made his way home no matter how difficult, he was obviously a very loved cat! Take comfort in the fact you did all you could and you would have felt so safe and secure and pain free at the end

inspo Sat 15-Feb-20 03:16:07

Sorry I meant to say he would have felt safe- small child is keeping me awake, I never post in the night just read but your thread really moved me thanks

nolongersurprised Sat 15-Feb-20 03:21:29

That’s ok, inspo, that’s how I interpreted it!

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HeronLanyon Sat 15-Feb-20 04:30:46

Just wanted to say what a wonderful ‘owner’ (we don’t ever really own them!) you sound. Agree you really have nothing to second guess or feel you should have done differently - you’ll know it’s almost unavoidable to do this ‘what if’ ‘if only’ thinking. I’ve done it myself in similar circs for adored cat who had to be PTS at a young age.
Really just wanted to send support. It really tough because we love them so much. flowers

Toomanygerbils Sat 15-Feb-20 04:35:48

I’m so sorry for your loss, I went through the what ifs when my dog was put to sleep. He didn’t go missing but I started overanalysing his diet and activity. Eventually though I did come to terms with it and can now look back on what a happy life he had. It just shows what a caring pet owner you are op, and how lucky he was to have you in his life x

nolongersurprised Sat 15-Feb-20 06:53:48

Thank you heron and gerbils. The messages are helping. I’m sorry you’ve had to have pets PTS as well.

I just wish he hadn’t hidden after the event. It sounds like the prognosis isn’t great even if cats come in early after their thromboembolic event but at least then he wouldn’t have been sore. But I realise it’s silly wanting a cat not to do instinctive cat behaviour.

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NumbersStation Sat 15-Feb-20 07:01:08

I was a dog mam and I torture myself with the what ifs years on. Like you, my head knows fine I couldn’t possibly have known how ill she was (literally fine one day and gone the next). I cannot manage to convince my heart.

You did all you could and he came home to where he was loved, precious boy.

Thinking of you and your family flowers

Fluffycloudland77 Sat 15-Feb-20 07:02:10

I lost mine too early and you do replay everything over and over at first. You just love them so much and expect them to have long lives.

The grief is very powerful. It takes a long time to come to terms with it. I hope his brother is hcm free.

Hamsterian Sat 15-Feb-20 07:02:15

Poor kitty, but you did everything you could. It sounds like you managed to curtail his suffering as much as possible. It all happened very quickly, you must be in shock. He is now in kitty heaven 💕💕

HeronLanyon Sat 15-Feb-20 07:03:29

Exactly. Although really tough for you he was doing what he needed to do and also how lovely he came home.
My lovely boy who went far too young - (congenital organ failure) also went missing during the week running up to when we had organised vet to come to the house to put him to sleep. It really was awful. But he too came home - I can’t even express how relieved we were and how I loved him so much for doing that. We too were able to hold him and say goodbye when he was being pts. Truth is their instinct to hide away is them doing what they need to do and just has to be respected if that is how it turns out.
Oh dear crying for my lovely boy - decades ago - and other beloved cats who went at a ‘better age’.
My Lovely old parents have both died over the last couple of years. Obviously it’s different loss but sometimes not so different.
Take care. It’s sad and tough but you’ll be ok. You loved and looked after him - that’s what matters.

wonkytonkwoman Sat 15-Feb-20 07:11:21

I'm sorry for your loss @nolongersurprised, he such a handsome boy and looks very contented in the photo, not at all poorly so it's not surprising you had no idea.

My Dcat was dx with HCM November last year after she went into heart failure very suddenly, although I'd thought she was sleeping more than usual in the few days beforehand. I'd always thought her weight was because she was soo fussy and other Dcat used to bully her around the food bowls.

She's still here but tbh I take it a day at a time because it's too late for prohylactice meds, and although she's put a bit of weight on she really does sleep pretty much all the time.

We get so attached to them, don't we? Which makes their loss just as painful as any other.

BirdieFriendBadge Sat 15-Feb-20 07:24:44

I'm so sorry for your loss.

It's very clear to see you are a wonderful person and have done the very best for your boy in a horrible situation.

It's heartbreaking when you know they've been in pain alone. Same happened to an old cat of mine who disappeared for 2 days and managed to drag herself back home having been hit by a car and legs broken. (She was PTS too)

But it's incredible that they find that strength.

The pain hurts really bad. Especially when it's before their time. But it will get easier, and I think getting his brother checked out is a great idea.

Big love to you and your family.

nettie434 Sat 15-Feb-20 07:37:20

I am very sorry for your loss nolongersurprised. He looks so comfortable and happy on the bed. You and your family must have looked after him so well for him to have been so determined to get home. Fingers crossed that his brother does not have the condition. If, unfortunately, he does then at least he will be monitored and have treatment.

nolongersurprised Sat 15-Feb-20 07:47:01

Thank you all so much. It means a lot. It’s evening here and DH is cooking while I drink wine and cry so it’s all good. The children seem ok - appropriate questions about why I “didn’t give him a chance” which I was able to answer and they’re back to talking about their day-to-day life stuff which is good.

We just loved him, it’s so sad. I’m pleased DH convinced me to have an autopsy. The ICU vet tentatively mentioned it - apparently nearly everyone says no - and my initial reaction was not to but if it’s HCM we’ll get his brother scanned just in case so I’m pleased we have.

It’s true that it’s all been so fast and there’s been so many decision readjustments as he’s changed and as the diagnosis has been clearer. We’ve gone from thinking it was one bad leg from trauma and infection but we’d amputate and he’d be ok, to him trying to die from septic shock and me driving in at midnight to say goodbye to him , then pulling through and a plan for risky surgery (as cardiovascularly unstable) to learning that two legs were infected after possible trauma so should be PTS to definitely NOT trauma but a clot with infectious sequelae and probably underlying serious condition so should be PTS. I have been involved in similar scenarios with humans so I know that clinical pictures can change quickly but it’s such an emotional rollercoaster.

All the vets were awesome and empathetic and competent. I wish the specialist ICU vet who knew it was a clot was involved from the onset but by definition she is only involved with critically unwell animals, after referral from regular vets. We haven’t paid her bill yet so I’m sure it’ll reflect her expertise! I didn’t know until today just how sub-specialised vets can get, here’s hoping we don’t need to meet the animal cardiologist for Chester’s brother. He’s well though, pestering for food from 4pm.

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nolongersurprised Sat 15-Feb-20 09:36:04

My Dcat was dx with HCM November last year after she went into heart failure very suddenly, although I'd thought she was sleeping more than usual in the few days beforehand. I'd always thought her weight was because she was soo fussy and other Dcat used to bully her around the food bowls.

It seems like it’s such an insidious condition. I can’t believe I didn’t know how common it was in cats. I hope your cat remains relatively well.

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