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When to make "that" decision

(26 Posts)
TheLazyToad Sun 03-Jan-21 14:44:07

I have a beautiful, long-haired, old cat, she is nearly 15. She is going downhill at the moment, and I know that I am going to have to make “that” decision, but I don’t know at what point you make it.

She has had arthritis for a number of years, and been taking an anti-inflammatory medication. A few months ago, things got worse, so she was given a strong painkiller to have as well. A few weeks ago, she was bringing up really stinky vomit. I am used to the occasional bout of sickness (we’ve always had long-haired cats, it seems to be a standard problem), but the smell of this stuff is beyond foul. She has steadily lost weight over the last couple of years, always seen as normal for a cat of her age, but she is very thin now though, but it is hard to see as she is so long-haired.

The vet felt that the anti-inflammatory medication may have caused an ulcer-type problem, as she couldn’t feel any kind of blockage, and the cat didn’t react to being prodded about. She hasn’t been on any medication now for around a month. She gained a new lease of life, and was much more bouncy. She was also ravenous, and wanted to eat all the time. She has been very quiet for the last few days though, and definitely not her normal self.

The vet said that if the vomiting continued, we should look at doing blood tests for kidney, thyroid etc. She is still being sick around every 3 or 4 days and, although she still wants food, she hasn’t eaten properly for a couple of days. I will be phoning the vet tomorrow.

My dilemma is that I hate the idea of putting her through tests for something which may have no good outcome – is there a good outcome for a cat of this age if she has any of these conditions? I don’t want to put her through more and more invasive tests, but also worry that she may have something treatable.

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Topseyt Sun 03-Jan-21 14:57:12

Maybe a different painkiller could be tried that is less harsh on their digestive systems? Gabapentin? If suitable for cats. I’ve heard it might be less severe. Might be worth asking anyway. If you are currently using NSAIDS such as rimadyl or carprieve they are good painkillers but harsh on the digestive tract over time.

Good luck. I know how hard it is when they become very elderly and you know you are into borrowed time.

TheLazyToad Sun 03-Jan-21 15:22:50

She was on Metacam (the anti-inflammatory), and was taking Gabapentin too for the last few months. She has been off both for a month or so now, but maybe I will try the Gabapentin again to give her a bit of relief if she is struggling now.

And you are so right, it feels like she is on borrowed time - but it is how long you leave it for, or how much testing you should do that I struggle with sad

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Toddlerteaplease Sun 03-Jan-21 15:27:25

You will know. Honestly you just will.

TheLazyToad Sun 03-Jan-21 15:31:05

I think I already do - writing it down makes it more real. I just worry that making that decision may be wrong if she has something treatable. I know I have to be sensible as she's 15, she's never going to be back to perfect health.

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Toddlerteaplease Sun 03-Jan-21 15:49:10

Better a month too soon than a week to late.

Yarnivore Sun 03-Jan-21 16:04:03

I had to make the decision a few months ago, my old boy was 18 and a half, had lost a lot of weight, and recently switched from Loxicom to Onsior and a GI diet, which helped but he just never got his appetite back properly. I decided against testing as he wouldn't comply with a special diet and I didn't want to stress him out with more tablets. He then had one bad day when I thought this is it, but the next day was a good day, then by the weekend he was starting to have spells of looking uncomfortable and was finding toileting distressing. He was still being his usual lovable PITA self in many ways, but something had changed and I very much felt that I'd rather do it before he became properly ill, so I booked him in for 3 days time, with a plan to give him his favourite human foods for his last 2 dinners (roast chicken and fish from the chip shop!), which I did and he enjoyed. It was devastating, and I'm still a bit weepy now, he was a very special cat, but it was the right decision and I don't regret it at all.

CTR04197 Sun 03-Jan-21 16:23:54

I had to make the heartbreaking decision to have my beloved ginger cat put to sleep last February. Since I split up with my ex husband he lived with him but I saw him loads (the cat not the ex!).
One night around 11pm I got a call to say he'd come in dragging his back legs behind him, I called the emergency vet & I went round, I was a total mess, really thought he wouldn't make it, the vet gave him an injection & told us to take him to the surgery the next day, we think he had a stroke. Over the next 6 months he got worse, he went blind but the vet said he would cope fine, he got thinner & had tablets for his heart & began missing the litter tray. Every time we took him to the vets I got myself worked up days before convincing myself that he wouldn't be coming home. One morning my ex messaged to say he had got alot worse so I called the vet & told them I think its time we let him go, I was surprisingly calm & even while he was 'going' I was so calm, stroked him & talked to him, I just knew he had to go, it was the right time. I couldn't sign the paperwork though, I let my ex do it. I'd had him since he was a few months old & he was nearly 14, I'll never be able to have another ginger cat as I could never replace him, I miss him every day, he was a very special cat but it was his time & I knew it xx

TheLazyToad Sun 03-Jan-21 16:30:53

I've had to have other cats put to sleep before now, so I know how heart-breaking it is. It feels like I'm playing God, and I need to remind myself that it is a kind thing to do if she is suffering, and if there isn't a good outcome for anything else she may have. I will take the vet's advice tomorrow, and will ask the "what would you do yourself?" They've always been honest with me.

flowers to those of you who have shared your stories.

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Clarich007 Sun 03-Jan-21 19:06:11

Never easy is it Lazytoad ? I've been through this 5 times now and it doesn't get any easier.Toddlertea is right you just know, and in a way it's a strange sort of relief.You know although you are going to be heartbroken for a while, that you will never have to worry about them again or spend sleepless nights fretting.
In my case my cats have always looked deep into my eyes, almost as if they are saying please help me.I have always known when it was time.
Take care and good luck💐

TheLazyToad Sun 03-Jan-21 21:07:57

@Clarich007 You are right, I know you are right, but it's still so hard. I've had to do it twice before, but I am still at the "what if" stage. I've decided that I have to wait and see what the vet says tomorrow, but I know in my heart that this can't continue.

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Clarich007 Tue 05-Jan-21 13:09:54

How did you get on at the vets The lazy toad..?(.sorry i don't know how to tag your name).I have been thinking about you.Hope you're ok

MargeryMcLatchie Tue 05-Jan-21 14:25:37

Mine was diagnosed with both kidney and thyroid malfunction at 15, successfully medicated for both and still very much here and happy at almost 21.

TheLazyToad Wed 06-Jan-21 00:56:33

@MargeryMcLatchie - I've also had a cat with thyroid problems, which was managed successfully for a long time; and another cat with kidney problems who deteriorated quite quickly. I love that your cats are still doing well at such a fabulous age.

@Clarich007 - thank you for asking, but it wasn't a great outcome. She had blood tests on Monday, and the results came through in the evening, which showed a severe liver problem. The only options were more invasive procedures to determine exactly what the problem was. There wasn't going to be a happy ending, and there is no way I could put her through all that just for a diagnosis.

She was going downhill even more, was struggling to eat anything, and totally stopped cleaning herself, and was even more subdued. We made the decision not to continue, and she was put to sleep yesterday (Tuesday). We had a peaceful afternoon making a fuss of her, and cuddles with her made me realise how much thinner she was.

We are not allowed into consultations with the vet at the moment because of Covid, but they let me come in with her, and her passing was very quick and peaceful. I blubbered like a baby, of course, but I absolutely know that it was the right decision. The vet was just so kind, and carefully wrapped her up in our towel to bring her home. I feel such a deep sadness, but she had a very happy life and I have lovely memories.

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Clarich007 Wed 06-Jan-21 10:42:22

Oh I am so so sorry about your beautiful cat.You did the right thing, cats can hide pain really well.I'm glad it was a peaceful ending and that you could be with her.
Take care

TheLazyToad Wed 06-Jan-21 11:04:15

@Clarich007 - thank you

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Apileofballyhoo Wed 06-Jan-21 11:08:31

I'm sorry, Toad. flowers

Yarnivore Wed 06-Jan-21 12:40:05

So sorry Toad flowers

It doesn't matter how prepared we are, or how much we know it's the right decision, it's still utterly heartbreaking ❤️

TheLazyToad Wed 06-Jan-21 17:49:56

@Apileofballyhoo and @Yarnivore - thank you

Today has actually been much easier because the relief that no more hard decisions have to be made now. I do feel incredibly sad, but it's manageable. I have made so much more fuss of my other cat.

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JamieLeesCurtains Wed 06-Jan-21 22:19:31

I'm so sorry, @TheLazyToad.

I'm on MN a lot at the moment to mask my hurt at having to make this decision for our beloved younger cat last week. It feels so dreadful, even though it was absolutely the right thing to do. She was nearly 16, very similar problems to yours. She was loved and cared for. Eventually, it's time to let go flowers

Apileofballyhoo Wed 06-Jan-21 23:31:38

Yes, it can be a relief when there's no more suffering and indecision. It doesn't take away from the sadness though.

Cleverpolly3 Wed 06-Jan-21 23:41:06

So sad but you know - and she did too - that you were doing the best and right thing

It still is very painful even when we know it’s time to say goodbye so sending a hug

TheLazyToad Thu 07-Jan-21 00:57:04

I think evenings are going to be my worst time, as she always slept on my lap before I went to bed. I will remember that as a happy time though.

Thanks to everyone who understands EXACTLY how this feels.

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Topseyt Thu 07-Jan-21 03:41:03

I'm very sorry it couldn't be a different outcome, but you know it was the final kindness.

I know the sense of relief you mean from my own experience. Relief that they are no longer suffering and at being able to make the right, but difficult decision at the right time.

Be kind to yourself now too.

TheLazyToad Thu 07-Jan-21 16:14:28

@Topseyt - thank you. It is hard, but yes, it was the right decision.

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