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Saturday, December 22, 2007  

A Christmas Downer

Strat isn't going to make it to Christmas.

The fur hadn't even grown back from his ass-tumor surgery when we started noticing that he was still losing weight. I brought him into the vet on Monday. Dr. P. groped Strat's belly, then brought him into the back for some x-rays. I waited in reception until Dr. P. came and got me, saying the scan showed "significant findings." Significant findings means "bad."

In the same room in which Turtle died two months before, he showed my the x-ray picture of what looked to me like a huge tumor in Strat's belly. The pictures also showed a "loss of detail" on either side, which probably meant one thing: Cancer. All through him.

Apparently this happens sometimes. You take out a big tumor, having done your best to make sure that there isn't any cancer anywhere else in the body first before you go to the trouble and trauma of surgery. It doesn't look like it's spread, at least not anywhere large enough to show up. But then the primary tumor is removed, and all the other cancer cells throughout the body see their big chance.

Dr. P. said there was some possibility that it was an abscess instead of a tumor, but we'd need an ultrasound to be sure. The problem is that with the holidays, we couldn't get him in for one until the first week of January. They gave him some fluids subcutaneously because he was completely dehydrated, and told me to cut his insulin dosage in half because his blood sugar was in the sixties.

That night, we started explaining to M. Small what was going to happen soon. "But we need him," M. Small protested.

The vet said that if the ultrasound became more urgent, they could maybe refer us to the U next week. Yesterday, we realized we weren't going to be able to wait that long. He's going downhill fast. He's not eating or drinking or walking; he just hangs out near the kitchen doorway for as long as we let him, refusing to take soft food or tuna or cold cuts or even catnip. I brought Strat in again yesterday, and Dr. P. said the tumor seemed bigger than it had on Monday. It's what you call "aggressive."

They injected him with some fluids to keep him from totally dehydrating, and promised to show me how to do it at home today, just so we could maybe keep him alive through the holidays.

This morning, when Trash and I together couldn't get him to take more than a few sips of water, we realized it was going to be a long, sad week. After today, the vet is closed until Wednesday. In Strat's condition, a lot can happen between now and then. None of it good.

Trash talked to her brother today, and he made an interesting point: do we really want to prolong Strat's suffering for four more days, just so we can say goodbye on Boxing Day? Talk about nuclear post-holiday letdown.

So it's happening today, while we -- and especially M. Small -- still have something to look forward to. By the time you read this, he'll probably be gone already.

We knew when we opted for the surgery that there was a chance he wouldn't last long, so this isn't a shock like with Orca. And we don't want to postpone the inevitable like we did with Turtle. Every cat is different, and every goodbye is different.

Strat's seventeen. He's lived with us in three homes, longer than we've been married. Before he came, we were just a couple. He made us a family.

It's going to be an emptier house this Christmas.

posted by M. Giant 9:23 AM 33 comments


My thoughts are with you guys - it's terrible that this happens at all, but especially this time of year.

Our thirteen year old diabetic dog died a few weeks ago. It seems to leave a larger hole when you spend so much time caring for them to keep them healthy.

Big hugs to everyone - I'll light an extra candle this evening.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 22, 2007 at 10:06 AM  

hey guys - this is tami. I'm so sorry to read about strat. Lora, I know you were hoping to make it thru the holidays. As hard as it was, you made the right decision though. Take care,

By Blogger Tamig, at December 22, 2007 at 10:08 AM  

You're doing the right thing for Strat. It's never easy, but it's the merciful thing to do. You're all in our thoughts.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 22, 2007 at 11:24 AM  

Aw, M. Family, I'm so sorry to hear this. However, as others have said, you are doing the right thing for Strat.

We'll be thinking of you and squeezing our own cats in sympathy.

By Blogger Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic, at December 22, 2007 at 11:33 AM  

You did the right thing. It's so hard to lose one of them, but he's not suffering any more.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 22, 2007 at 12:00 PM  

We'll be thinking of you. Hugs and love from another cat household to yours.

By Blogger naginata, at December 22, 2007 at 12:11 PM  

This has been a rough year for you, and although you know you've done the right things, I know that doesn't make it any easier. I am SO sorry for your loss.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 22, 2007 at 12:22 PM  

M. Family, I am so sorry you had to do this, to make this decision for your longtime family member. Strat was loved, this is known. Our thought are with you, and I am again, so sorry for your loss.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 22, 2007 at 2:06 PM  

Oh, I am so sorry to hear this...it's hard to lose a pet. You gave Strat a long, happy and loving life, and like others have said, it's the right thing to do for someone you love.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 22, 2007 at 4:35 PM  

I'm so very sorry for your loss; the M. family will be in my thoughts.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 22, 2007 at 4:55 PM  

Oh dear, oh damn it. I am so sorry. My heart aches for you all. I know nothing will help, but you had him to love for a wonderful long time, even though it's never enough. Peace.

By Blogger KmLawrence, at December 22, 2007 at 4:56 PM  

Oh man, I am so, so, so sorry to hear this news. (((hugs))) to you all. Thoughts and prayers are with you. :(

By Blogger Heather, at December 22, 2007 at 5:02 PM  

I'm delurking to offer my condolences to the family during such a nasty, awful time.

By Blogger Christina, at December 22, 2007 at 5:06 PM  

I'm so sorry to hear this - it's been a rough year for you guys. However, I think you're doing the right thing. Strat's had a good long life with you guys - my thoughts and prayers are with you as he moves on.

By Blogger Dawnie, at December 22, 2007 at 6:32 PM  

Oh, guys. This random stranger is very sorry for you and your kitty. I hope the rest of the holidays are better.

(And, you know, hi. Love your journal, cute kid, etc.)

By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 22, 2007 at 9:00 PM  

I'm so sorry. I lost my Maine Coon cat in July -- he developed major liver problems and also stopped eating and drinking. I spent a lot of money and did a lot of home care (sub-Q fluids, enemas, force-feeding) trying to keep him alive, but it didn't work and finally the vet and I agreed that it was time to let him go. It's always such a hard thing to do, even when you know it's right. I'm sorry you have to go through this during the holidays.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 22, 2007 at 10:19 PM  

God, I'm so sorry. I know how much something like this hurts, having lost two of my own. But you did absolutely the right thing to bring Start in Saturday. It was the last, kindest thing you could do for him.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 23, 2007 at 12:53 PM  

I'm so very sorry for your loss. M.Small has had some hard life lessons this year, poor little guy.

You did the right thing for Strat and I am sure he appreciates it. He'll be watching over you on Christmas, happy that his family has some joy.

By Blogger Bunny, at December 23, 2007 at 5:42 PM  

Oh dear. I am sooo sorry. But you're doing the right thing. It is a hard thing, but it is the right thing. My 18 yo cat passed away this summer under similar circumstances, so I know how difficult it is to say goodbye to a friend who's been with you that long. Take care of yourselves and remember the good times.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 23, 2007 at 9:44 PM  

I'm so sorry about Strat. 17 years is a long, full life for a cat, and given his medical condition, there are not many families that would have provided him what he needed. He was lucky to have you (and I'm sure you felt lucky to have him.). Take care.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 24, 2007 at 6:29 AM  

I feel your pain. I had to put my boy down 3 weeks ago, finding out that he wasn't constipated but actually had a giant tumor in his belly. It was the hardest thing to do. We bawled all day long and that night the bed felt HUGE and empty. You never realize how much space a cat takes up until he isn't there anymore. I am so sorry for your loss. I didn't get as long with my big (16 lbs!) white boy as you did, but those 11 years were wonderful and I will cherish them always.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 24, 2007 at 10:24 AM  

I'm so sorry about Strat, my heart goes out to you - horrible thing to lose a family member like that. Sounds like he lived a wonderful, long life being so lovingly taken care of.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 24, 2007 at 10:48 AM  

I'm so sorry, you guys. I've been off the grid for days, and didn't see this until now. Big hugs to the little guy, and I hope to see you all soon. Much love!

By Blogger Linda, at December 25, 2007 at 9:33 AM  

I'm really sorry about Strat. That's terrible news.

By Blogger Unknown, at December 25, 2007 at 6:27 PM  

I'm sorry. I know he was a good kitty.

By Blogger Deanna, at December 26, 2007 at 9:06 AM  

I'm so sorry. We have two ailing older cats, and we're starting to have to think about endings, too. It's so hard. I'm so sorry for you all.

By Blogger Tammy, at December 26, 2007 at 11:34 PM  

so sorry for the loss. i feel the sadness too.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 27, 2007 at 12:39 AM  

{{{{{{HUGS}}}}}}} to all of you!!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 27, 2007 at 4:17 AM  

I'm so very, very sorry.

By Blogger Renee from GA, at December 27, 2007 at 5:36 PM  

I'm so sorry, M. Family. I would offer to lend you Little Joe, but then you'd have a sprained back on top of everything else. Take good care.

By Blogger Sarah D. Bunting, at December 27, 2007 at 6:01 PM  

I'm so sorry. That really sux.

By Blogger Teslagrl, at December 28, 2007 at 11:54 AM  

De-lurking to say how very sorry I am for all of your losses this year... your writing about them has helped me through the loss of my 22!yo childhood cat earlier this year, however... so, thank you so much for sharing. I firmly believe in cat heaven, with lots of treats and toys and catnip... and all our kids are there. Wishing M.Fam the best...

By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 29, 2007 at 7:45 PM  

I'm so sorry. You were lucky to have Strat for this long.

By Blogger Cori, at January 8, 2008 at 10:10 AM  

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