Tuesday, October 8, 2013

An Unexpected Farewell

This past Saturday began as I had planned. For the first time in weeks there was no long run ahead of me since my half marathon was on Sunday, but I was still up early to volunteer for a Junior League event. We packed up to head out of town for the race later that day and then Mr. Young dropped me off at the event and took our cat, Pip, to the vet.

Since we moved we slowly realized she was not acting like her normal self. Usually full of energy and sprinting around, for the past few weeks she had been lethargically laying around the house. In addition, the cat who used to binge eat no longer had much of an appetite and she was getting tinier by the minute.

There were a few things we thought we might hear from the vet: “Your cat has anxiety,” (and yes, they make Prozac for kitties) or maybe “Your cat has UTI,” (unfortunately she had also been using the bathroom in odd places) but we never expected “Your cat has feline leukemia.”

Mr. Young called me at my event to tell me the news and I immediately started sobbing. He quickly came to pick me up and we just sat there in silence for a few minutes. Little did I know feline leukemia is different than the human variety; it’s a virus that can be easily spread between cats. I took Pip out of her carrier and held her all the way home to get our other cat so she could be tested.

The short drive was filled with tears, what if’s, and the hardest decision we've ever had to make together. Unfortunately Pip was already so sick that she would have needed a blood transfusion before we could even give her medicine because she had become severely anemic. Even if we went through with this treatment path there was no guarantee of what would happen and it would maybe buy a few months. When we got home we grabbed our other cat and I also poured an entire bag of cat treats into Pip’s carrier.

After returning to the vet, the next hour ahead of us was an emotional roller coaster. We had a quick blood test run on our other cat and thankfully she doesn't have the virus and we were given some medicine for extra protection. With one weight lifted off our shoulders we then had to shift our minds back to the inevitable.

We signed papers and learned there are more options than we ever imagined of what you can do when your pet passes. While we waited for the doctor we held Pip in the afternoon sunshine near the window and told her all of the things we loved about her. The next twenty minutes felt like an eternity and as tough as it was we were glad that we could hold her and be the last thing that she saw. And then just like that she was gone.

Vet offices should really make you reconcile your bill prior to a service like this. It was no fun to go up front and fork over money for a bill equal to our monthly grocery budget, especially when we were leaving with one less cat than we brought in.

Not that there’s ever good timing to find out your pet is fatally ill, but seriously world—what shitty timing. We had to speed back to our house to drop off our other cat, and unfortunately leave the poor, confused, little thing at home by herself while we head out of town so I could grab my race materials before the expo closed.

The way that my mind works I was almost able to just put my grief on pause. After my year and a half journey to complete a half marathon I knew I needed to keep my spirits up for the next day. On the way back home from the race is when it hit me realizing that she wouldn't be there when we got home. And again going to bed and knowing she wouldn't be sleeping near my feet. 

We adopted Pip in July 2012 and although we had just a year and some change with her we've made a concerted effort to think positively about this whole situation. The Humane Society had taken her in as a feral cat, so we were able to give her a loving home she wouldn't have otherwise had. She had a best friend in our other cat, seriously y'all they would cuddle and lick each other all the time. She made us laugh with the funny ways that she would sit and her cute high pitched sneezes.

Pets definitely open up a special place in your heart, and I am so glad we had this little one in our life for as long as we did.


Lindsay said...

Oh, Anna, I'm so sorry for your loss. :( A few years ago, we had to put one of our family kitties down after finding out she had cancer - it was very sudden and a bit traumatic, like yours. We knew she wasn't acting like herself, but thought it was just old age - and then one evening she had a seizure and we ended up finding out about the cancer and having to put her down the same night. It was absolutely heartbreaking, and I really empathize with you. Pets are family, aren't they? Thinking of you & Mr. Young <3

Julia @ It's Always Ruetten said...

Oh my goodness. I am so sorry for your loss. I can't imagine the pain of losing one of my cats to something that has a vaccine available to prevent. I will keep kitty number two in my thoughts and hope the adjustment goes well. You were both great parents and gave Pip a wonderful last memory and comfort of knowing what "home" is. Keeping you all in my thoughts during this difficult time.