My Beloved Boy, Hemingway

urbancalgirl

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{I posted most of this in another forum and a kind reader suggested I post here, too.}

It's been an overwhelming few days. After spending a total of 10 hours over 2 days at the ER vet, we had to make the heartbreaking decision to euthanize our beloved Hemingway, who wasn't even 10 years old. He stopped eating and drinking on Sunday and by Tuesday night, we had to put him down.

Xrays showed his kidneys were 1/3 the size they should be. They were extremely small and also full of kidney stones. Xrays also showed that he was severely constipated. (He was an indoor/outdoor cat and did not use a litterbox, so I had no idea he wasn't pooping).

Looking back through the notes I kept on previous vet visits, and the notes I would occasionally keep on his behavior, I see that this actually was not as sudden as it felt. Just two weeks ago he stopped eating and drinking and was lethargic. I was getting read to take him to the vet then, but then started eating again. The same thing happened in January, December, October, and August.

The vet said our next steps were to do an ultrasound and see if there was any other kind of blockage. If so, that would result in surgery, which would be in the thousands of dollars, and require him to remain indoors for weeks (he hated being locked inside and always got so depressed. The longest we ever managed to keep him in was a week. Also, we have no garage or spare room where we could put him to recover. So, anytime he had to stay inside, he howled all night, keeping us up and the baby up).

If there was no blockage, we could hospitalize him for a few days with IV fluids. She said it might perk him up and with a diet change, it might give him a few months or a year, but that the kidney disease would eventually take him. I had a long, talk with the very kind vet. My concern was that we were going to head down a rabbit hole of tests that would likely lead to painful, expensive treatments. Hemingway was very difficult to handle, especially when stressed or sick, and it would always take several vet techs to do anything to him. The vet said that it would be nearly impossible for me to administer sub-Q fluids at home by myself (my husband works long hours and I'm home alone with a toddler for 15 hours a day). Indeed, whenever my husband and I attempted in the past to give him pills or medications, it was a stressful nightmare for him and us. The vet pointed out that we also needed to consider the quality of life for my family. I appreciated that. When I was a child, I watched my mother go through the anxiety and stress and guilt of giving our cat injections and medications for nearly two years when he was diagnosed with kidney disease.

It breaks my heart that finances were a factor, but it's true. We'd already spent $500 on the first visit, and close to $2,000 on previous visits in the last 6 months. As a middle-class family in an area of the country with one of the highest costs of living, continued expensive treatments weren't feasible for us.

I read something while waiting in the vet's office that said it's better to euthanize a day too soon than an hour too late. This gives me some comfort in the midst of my guilt. I do wish we had been able to take him home and have the euthanasia done there, but we couldn't get a vet to come out until almost 24 hours later. I didn't want him to suffer any more and I didn't want to subject him to any more stress from being handled by the techs.

I will second-guess our decision for the rest of my life. The very kind, compassionate vet said she thought it was the responsible, loving decision, so that gives me some comfort, too. She could have pressured me to continue with the expensive treatments, but she did not. I take the most comfort from knowing that we pampered him while we had him. He was my best friend during 2 years of painful, emotional in-vitro fertilization treatments. He brought us so much joy and I hope that he loved us, too.

If you'd like to hear more about the story of how we got him (we adopted him from a neighbor only 3 years ago) and what he meant to us, here's a link to a blog post I wrote about him 3 years ago.
I May Not Have a Human Baby, But I Have a Fur Baby! | Amateur Nester

(please note that some work and school firewalls may flag my blog as p*rn because it talks about my struggles with fertility and uses the clinically correct words to describe some reproductive processes... I can assure you there is nothing inappropriate there)

Thanks for reading about my beautiful boy. My sympathies to anyone else who is going through this.
 

zed xyzed

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I read your touching heartfelt post. The picture of Hemingway sleeping with your husband brought a tear to my eye. I am so sorry your sweet boy moved on to his next journey so soon. He was such a beautiful kitty, I hope you find comfort in knowing that you gave him a loving home. Run free sweet boy and be free of pain
 

di and bob

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The quality of life for your sweet boy was such that it most likely would never get better, he would have been existing, not living. Don't ever regret a decision based on love, of ending pain, you could not let your little one suffer.
He came into your life for a reason, to provide you with love and caring, to walk beside you on your life's journey for a while, and now will follow you as you go on into the future. The bond you formed will hold you together, he is a part of your soul, bound there by love. He would never want you to continue your journey and live in sadness and darkness, he would want you to go on and to bring sunshine and laughter once more into your heart, as you would want for him if you were the first to go. All he asks is for you to remember him, to hold him in that special place you created for him in your heart, and to honor his name by passing on the legacy of love he entrusted to you.
Please know I cry for you and the pain you are going through, I'll keep you all in my thoughts and prayers, he was a sweet boy and deserves to be remembered and grieved for. Thank you for your moving tribute........RIP sweet Hemingway, you will never be forgotten and will be held in a loving heart for eternity. Please send what comfort you can to those who miss you so terribly much, sleep tight, sweet Prince!
 

meelasmom

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I am so sorry for your struggles and pain with you baby boy. I may not have advice since I am still heavily grieving for my baby girl I lost recently. Please know so many of us here understand your grief and pain.

Hemingway is no longer suffering, but you are and in time you will smile at all his memories and not surprisingly a few tears may escape with sadness of loss. He had a huge impact on your life. It will get easier but you will never forget him or the pain you suffer. I am sure where ever he is, he is watching down on you right now.

You were very lucky you and he had each other as long as you did. Several of us didn't get all those years with ours.

I will pray to God to ease your pain for him to take good care of Hemingway and my sweet baby Meela.
 

Aliciacat7

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Hello,

I can totally relate and had to put my older cat, beloved good friend and family member, Sidney to sleep. He wasn't feeling well and I knew he would be suffering. I cried for 2 days, I could not stop crying because I feel so guilty and miss him so much. Everyone has assured me that I made the right choice for Sidney, he was older (we are not exactly sure because the cat shelter told me that he was younger than he was when we adopted him).

I am a widow of 12 years and this kitty, our beloved Sidney, (Sid) helped us to heal, especially my now 16-year-old son really bonded with him. We only had him for 5 years, what a blessing he was. I cannot take the pain of having the empty space in my home, it is killing me. I am a Mental Health Counselor and now understand this pain, almost worse than when my husband passed. I feel like I hurt my cat, but it was the right choice.

I am leaving soon to adopt two adorable and precious 8 month year old kitties who are brothers. Sidney would want this. Even though it has only been two days, I cannot take this broken heart and have so much love to give and a good home for kitties. Our area is overwhelmed with cats and these two brothers are amazing. I know Sidney is looking down and happy, I wish I felt his spirit...I did the first day a little but really do not feel his spirit. I hope one day to see him again because he was such a wise old soul and everyone loved him.

I know guilt is wrong, but it is part of the healing process of grief, a natural emotion. My friends have told me to get another pet, as well as the vet to help the healing process. I am sending all of you hugs, too. This is so difficult. No one will ever replace Sidney, but I cannot feel this emotional because I do not want to get sick myself. I know guilt is natural, but I am thankful that I did not have to watch him suffer or not lead a good quality of life at home. My kitty would have hated to have a cone, he was hiding, in pain, and isolating himself. He looked at me like,"I'm okay Mom" because he did not want to worry, but I knew he was tired. We lived in a beautiful area, where he made friends with the family puppy, had friends (he is an indoor car) and then we moved back to our area, he seemed depressed and almost broken-hearted because he missed the puppy and family so much.

So, I feel a tremendous sense of guilt because I feel like I took him away from what he loved, but this is where my son is happy. Life is so hard sometimes.....now I can stay in our town permanently and raise these two brothers and also vow to give my cat not tap water. I will make a few changes to take the BEST care of these two kitties in honor of my beloved Sidney.

Thank you all for being such dedicated cat lovers. Bless all of you, Alicia
 

KMom

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My heart goes out to you urbancalgirl. Hemingway obviously knew how much you lived him, and he clearly loved you.

I empathize with you completely. As I type, I am sitting on the floor with our back patio door open, watching our 16 year-old beloved family member Tyger as he enjoys what may be his last days due to a host of health issues for which his long-term prognosis is not good. We are trying to make him as comfortable as possible and will see how he does over the weekend. Our biggest concern is his quality of life and that he not suffer pain. Like Hemingway, he does not tolerate vet visits well, so putting him through a lot of testing, poking and prodding just does not seem like a way to spend his remaining days since there is no cure for his condition, and his kidneys are not able to handle potential treatments. We just can't in good conscience put his little body through all of that.

Again, my heart goes out to you and I hope that even though you will always have a part of him with you, you find peace in knowing that you made a compassionate decision out of love.
 

Mia6

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Hello,

I can totally relate and had to put my older cat, beloved good friend and family member, Sidney to sleep. He wasn't feeling well and I knew he would be suffering. I cried for 2 days, I could not stop crying because I feel so guilty and miss him so much. Everyone has assured me that I made the right choice for Sidney, he was older (we are not exactly sure because the cat shelter told me that he was younger than he was when we adopted him).

I am a widow of 12 years and this kitty, our beloved Sidney, (Sid) helped us to heal, especially my now 16-year-old son really bonded with him. We only had him for 5 years, what a blessing he was. I cannot take the pain of having the empty space in my home, it is killing me. I am a Mental Health Counselor and now understand this pain, almost worse than when my husband passed. I feel like I hurt my cat, but it was the right choice.

I am leaving soon to adopt two adorable and precious 8 month year old kitties who are brothers. Sidney would want this. Even though it has only been two days, I cannot take this broken heart and have so much love to give and a good home for kitties. Our area is overwhelmed with cats and these two brothers are amazing. I know Sidney is looking down and happy, I wish I felt his spirit...I did the first day a little but really do not feel his spirit. I hope one day to see him again because he was such a wise old soul and everyone loved him.

I know guilt is wrong, but it is part of the healing process of grief, a natural emotion. My friends have told me to get another pet, as well as the vet to help the healing process. I am sending all of you hugs, too. This is so difficult. No one will ever replace Sidney, but I cannot feel this emotional because I do not want to get sick myself. I know guilt is natural, but I am thankful that I did not have to watch him suffer or not lead a good quality of life at home. My kitty would have hated to have a cone, he was hiding, in pain, and isolating himself. He looked at me like,"I'm okay Mom" because he did not want to worry, but I knew he was tired. We lived in a beautiful area, where he made friends with the family puppy, had friends (he is an indoor car) and then we moved back to our area, he seemed depressed and almost broken-hearted because he missed the puppy and family so much.

So, I feel a tremendous sense of guilt because I feel like I took him away from what he loved, but this is where my son is happy. Life is so hard sometimes.....now I can stay in our town permanently and raise these two brothers and also vow to give my cat not tap water. I will make a few changes to take the BEST care of these two kitties in honor of my beloved Sidney.

Thank you all for being such dedicated cat lovers. Bless all of you, Alicia
 

Mia6

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Alicia,

I am so sorry about Sidney. I am sure he will approve of the new kitties.

Hugs,

Mia
 

fantisticat

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I share my deep empathy for your sad journey, and sympathy at your loss. Beloved is a beautiful and appropriate word for our dear, lost cats. Thank you for sharing the gorgeous photo - and I hope you will know that you made all the right choices. There are no perfect choices. There are the right ones for each moment. Wishing you and yours the best.
 
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urbancalgirl

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Thank you all so much for your very kind words. The internet has lots of ugly sides to it, but the empathy and compassion here is a true example of the good that it can do.

I appreciate each of you who took the time to write, and my heart is with any of you who have also lost your cats. Hugs to all.
 

les26

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I am very sad and sorry to read of your loss, but you did all the right things. Sebastian also was very constipated right before he passed, the blood tests all said his kidneys were okay but I'm sure they weren't if he was that constipated. And please don't feel guilt over not running those expensive tests, it may have been even more stress on him and if it was his time to go he didn't need that. No matter how long we have them isn't long enough to us, but you packed a lifetime of love in those short years, and he is not suffering now, he is fine and healthy again....

May your heart heal a bit each day, God Bless......:alright:
 
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