Questions About My Cat’s Recent Passing That Continue to Plague Me :-(

michaelm101

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I sent a text with questions to my vet’s phone, but have not yet received word.
I will be making an appointment to see him this week, but would like some feedback/input.

Mia aka Booboo, my 3-week rescue feral from a storm drenched sewer, now my 17-year old companion, had been diagnosed with kidney and kidney disease and a thyroid condition in early 2019.

She was hospitalized in February of this year and was on fluids for six consecutive days. She made a recovery, but stopped eating her prescribed kidney food, which was presented to her in several different flavors and textures. The vet advised me to let her eat what she likes, regardless of being prescribed “kidney” formula.

Her appetite had been slowly dwindling for about the last two weeks, and last week she became lethargic and began sleeping on the floor in places where she typically never sleeps. We saw the vet where she was administered fluids the entire day and submitted for blood analysis to examine kidney function. The following day was a bad day. I was unable to locate her for hours and eventually found her underneath the sofa. She was laying on her side with her left paw hyperextended with paw in a supinated position. I moved her to her regular sleeping spot and her leg remained hyperextended. However, Within a few hours it appeared to be back to normal.

As directed, we returned for the same fluid administration the following morning and were advised to return the next morning. The vet said her kidneys weren't failing, but it was not looking good. When we returned from the vet that evening, she was wearing a catheter on her left leg and it was all downhill from there.

She was unable to get out of her carrier, stuck laying on her right side. I carefully lifted her out of the top flap and set her on the floor. She remained in the right side laying position as she attempted to use her left paw to get into the prone position. Even after laying her on a yoga pad, it was physically impossible seeing that her left leg was incapacitated by the catheter and accompanying bandages. She kept trying and it was draining her already weak body. I got her up, but again, she just fell right back over on her right side. A healthy Bengal Tiger would not have been able to get up with this incapacitation.

I called the vet, explained and was instructed to remove the catheter. I spent considerable time on this, was successful and able to stop the bleeding. I told the vet that after removal, the paw continued to be hyper-extended and supinated and was instructed to administer warm compresses to the leg. I was told there was a 4-6 hour wait time at the local emergency clinic, so I contacted my vet with this information and he instructed to administer water, “as much as you can,” orally via one of the small,1ml capacity injection syringes that I would use for administering her meds.

I have routinely administered her meds in the prone or sitting position. She was now stuck on her right side, extremely weak and exhausted, and I asked the vet for any special instructions. He advised doing the administration very slowly or the fluids could go into the lungs.

After slowly emptying one syringe through the teeth, I would rest a minute or two and in a period of about 10 minutes I had injected four syringes (4ml) total.

I went to another area about 10 feet away to answer my telephone and at this point I heard Mia gasping. I ran towards her as quickly as I could and put her skinny and frail body into the prone position between my knees with my hands on her shoulders. She kept gasping.

I did not know what to do and quite honestly it was the most helpless feeling I’ve ever had in my entire life. I literally felt her life ending in my hands. Exactly two gasps later she was unresponsive.

I had read about CPR and resuscitation in cats and dogs, but her body was simply too frail and skinny to make any attempts. I would have caused physical harm/damage. Within minutes, my precious Booboo stopped breathing.

I’ve been living with this scene rolling through my brain ever since and it brings tears to my eyes.

The following is part of the text I sent to my vet::

1) There was definitely something different with Mia’s left front leg and paw after I discovered her under the couch after searching for her for hours on Tuesday; hyper extension of the left leg and supination of the left paw.

2) Catheter on or catheter off, she was unable to get into the prone position, hence unable to locomote or even move out of the "lying on her side" position for that matter.

3) I had always administered medication, etc. in the sitting or prone position

4) Due to the paw incapacitation, I was forced to administer the fluids while she was on her side. I did this very slowly, as advised. I also put her head under a slight pillow to raise it just a bit.

QUESTIONS:

1) Did water get into the lungs? And could this have been prevented considering her position and weak condition?

2) Was there anything that I could have done to save her during the gasping event.

3) What would Mia’s quality of life have been like two or thee weeks from now?

Thanks very much for reading.
 

fionasmom

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I am extremely sorry for your loss of Mia and for the manner in which she passed. I agree with you that cat CPR would not have helped and that she was in no condition to receive it. It does not sound, to me, as if there was anything that you did or did not do which directly impacted her final moments.

As for the kidney food, my cat vet always says that a cat has to eat, first of all, even if it is not prescription food. Do you think that Mia was having a seizure of some kind or that her blood pressure had gone up dramatically....neither of which you would have been able to control or predict?

As for aspiration, given the extreme care that you were giving Mia with the fluids, despite her position, I don't believe that it could have caused an immediate reaction. Under usual circumstances, the symptoms of aspiration do not occur for about an hour, at least, maybe longer. Even if, and this was completely not under your control, she aspirated some small amount of fluid I think that it would have followed the course of lung congestion, coughing, fever, and weakness. An instantaneous reaction seems like an almost impossible likelihood.

You were doing everything that could have saved her, if that were a possibility. Her quality of life was probably not going to improve at her age and with her conditions.

"Weren't failing, but not looking good" is not all that exact, but if my cat vet said that to me it would be code for "I don't want to tell you that this is bad". I do not mean that your vet was not being honest, but possibly trying to soften this for you as it also seems as if you were given a lot of support and distanced instructions as to how to try to handle this.

I don't know that this is where you are going with Mia's loss, but if you are in any danger of taking question 1 and 2 and somehow assuming accountability for her passing, don't go there. You gave Mia, a kitten who would have probably died in a storm drain, wonderful and very long life.

My non medical opinion is that this was the result of end stage kidney disease. The last week of Mia's life her little body began to fail but she was able to leave this planet with you holding her and her final moments were knowing that you were there for her and were taking care of her.
 
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michaelm101

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I am extremely sorry for your loss of Mia and for the manner in which she passed. I agree with you that cat CPR would not have helped and that she was in no condition to receive it. It does not sound, to me, as if there was anything that you did or did not do which directly impacted her final moments.

As for the kidney food, my cat vet always says that a cat has to eat, first of all, even if it is not prescription food. Do you think that Mia was having a seizure of some kind or that her blood pressure had gone up dramatically....neither of which you would have been able to control or predict?

As for aspiration, given the extreme care that you were giving Mia with the fluids, despite her position, I don't believe that it could have caused an immediate reaction. Under usual circumstances, the symptoms of aspiration do not occur for about an hour, at least, maybe longer. Even if, and this was completely not under your control, she aspirated some small amount of fluid I think that it would have followed the course of lung congestion, coughing, fever, and weakness. An instantaneous reaction seems like an almost impossible likelihood.

You were doing everything that could have saved her, if that were a possibility. Her quality of life was probably not going to improve at her age and with her conditions.

"Weren't failing, but not looking good" is not all that exact, but if my cat vet said that to me it would be code for "I don't want to tell you that this is bad". I do not mean that your vet was not being honest, but possibly trying to soften this for you as it also seems as if you were given a lot of support and distanced instructions as to how to try to handle this.

I don't know that this is where you are going with Mia's loss, but if you are in any danger of taking question 1 and 2 and somehow assuming accountability for her passing, don't go there. You gave Mia, a kitten who would have probably died in a storm drain, wonderful and very long life.

My non medical opinion is that this was the result of end stage kidney disease. The last week of Mia's life her little body began to fail but she was able to leave this planet with you holding her and her final moments were knowing that you were there for her and were taking care of her.
Thanks very much for this. It was very comforting...
 

silent meowlook

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Hi. I wonder if she didn’t throw a clot to the front leg.
What you have to realize is that you didn’t cause this. You are not to blame. Nobody knows what could be in the future. There is no point in trying to get answers to painful questions that won’t change anything. The truth is, nobody knows.
I am so sorry!
 

SwissMiss

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Mia was such a cutie! I'm so sorry you lost your precious girl. You did everything you could and I hope you come to believe that her passing was in no way your fault.
 
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michaelm101

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Hi. I wonder if she didn’t throw a clot to the front leg.
What you have to realize is that you didn’t cause this. You are not to blame. Nobody knows what could be in the future. There is no point in trying to get answers to painful questions that won’t change anything. The truth is, nobody knows.
I am so sorry!
Thank you silentmeowlook. As a note, the "silent meow" was one of Mia's characteristic traits - simply adorable! Further, I've owned many cats and I've never experienced a cat with a catalog of vocal sounds as vast as my sweet late Booboo kitten. Her baby rescue sister is searching for big sister everyday to no avail and it makes me sad...
 

silent meowlook

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It’s heartbreaking to see the kitty grieve. When I had to have Rusty euthanized, the last place Cheetah saw him was the carrier. She would go inside the empty carrier and cry or just sit there waiting for him. She would walk the halls crying for him.
 
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michaelm101

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It’s heartbreaking to see the kitty grieve. When I had to have Rusty euthanized, the last place Cheetah saw him was the carrier. She would go inside the empty carrier and cry or just sit there waiting for him. She would walk the halls crying for him.
Yes, it's truly heartbreaking. Years back I fostered and eventually adopted two siblings. They were indoor/outdoor cats and when the sister (Tweethart) passed, brother Tommy would get atop the patio roof every evening just before sunset to scan the backyard looking for her. It went on for about two weeks and was just so sad to see. Incidentally, Tommy was Mia's stepfather whom she simply adored when she was a tiny feral rescue. She would be either on top of him, or inches away 24-7. Tommy was most patient with her and really a super buddy of a cat. Mia has joined him in kitty cat Heaven!

Tommy also had kidney disease and had to be euthanized. He did live for about an extra 5 months when we had the vet tech come to the house to do sub Qs 3X per week. I kid you not, every single time he'd receive his treatment, the evening would come and I would have a gift of a rodent on my doormat.
mia tommy.JPG
 
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michaelm101

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I just received the text message from our veterinarian that has given me some peace:

"I don’t think you did anything wrong. It was possibly a cardiac arrest. Hyperthyroidism causes a great amount of strain to the cardiac muscles. These patients have a continuous very-high heart rate..."
 

Furballsmom

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Her baby rescue sister is searching for big sister everyday to no avail and it makes me sad...
I haven't had much chance to be here on TCS lately, but I saw your posts and had to reply to this - try cat music; there's classical harp music, RelaxMyCat, also MusicForCats andthere are other sources, on spotify et al.

Also, try a purr toy and additionally a heartbeat toy - these are most often utilized for kittens but your baby will likely benefit. Granted, time is the main thing but these things I've mentioned can help make the transition a little less rough for this sweetie.

Hang in there, your vet sounds wonderful.
 
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michaelm101

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I haven't had much chance to be here on TCS lately, but I saw your posts and had to reply to this - try cat music; there's classical harp music, RelaxMyCat, also MusicForCats andthere are other sources, on spotify et al.

Also, try a purr toy and additionally a heartbeat toy - these are most often utilized for kittens but your baby will likely benefit. Granted, time is the main thing but these things I've mentioned can help make the transition a little less rough for this sweetie.

Hang in there, your vet sounds wonderful.
Thank you. My vet is wonderful and a true gift to the field and the animal kingdom. About the music, I will give it a go- Both Mia and Bella aka The Babycat (now 7yrs old) love music. Babycat prefers classical, while Booboo preferred Jazz. I'm gonna try the classical harp stuff for starters...
 
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