- Jan 8, 2016
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Not sure exactly how these posts normally work. I'm just going to journal about the end I think.
This was the first animal I've had who's death I've been present for (I had a mouse die last year, but other than that I've had no pets die in my adult life.)
Wendy was not a good eater for the last year of her life, but she started slowing down more over Christmas and then it came to a few bites a day 2 weeks ago, plus a lot more falling over and not trying to get up. At her vet appointment 10 days ago, the vet didn't need to do more than listen to her heart, and told me the end was coming within the week, so we euthanized her that day. My vet also told me it was probably for the best that she wasn't eating, because at that point food would have made her feel worse. She did assure me that she wasn't in any kind of pain other than her usual arthritis.
I stayed with her and I'm so glad I did. The first anesthetic shot must have gone straight through her skin because it didn't take, so we sat there for a while snuggled up and purring in front of a space heater. The vet gave her a second dose and then she drifted off, and we got her paw prints which I just painted today the color of her collar. I'm not a hugely sentimental person, but that ceramic circle is really comforting.
I'm going to go into detail because I like to know lots and lots of details at all times, but skip this next paragraph if you'd rather not know much about euthanasia: The next injection was to stop the brain, heart, and lungs, in that order, according to the vet. Her brain was immediate, and a minute or two later the vet checked her heart, and it had stopped. What really astounded me was that her lungs kept expanding for 5-10 more minutes after that. It really kind of messed with my idea of death-that the brain and heart can stop, but there are still cells in the body that don't know that yet and keep performing their function. It was kind of nice, in a way, to see that her death didn't have a firm moment where she was suddenly gone, but instead it felt like she was gradually fading away and it was very peaceful.
I'm so appreciative for how easy the vet made everything. (I love my vet so much. If I ever move far away, that will be the one part of my city that I'll seriously regret leaving.)
I only got Wendy 2 years ago, almost to the day. She was estimated to be 17 1/2 years old this winter, though no one really knows. She came to the shelter after being found on the streets in the middle of Michigan winter, flea ridden, missing a lot of fur, and had never even been spayed. They cleaned her up, took out some teeth, and I adopted her. Shortly after we diagnosed her hyperthyroidism, which we had the radioiodine treatment for and she calmed down a lot and lived a pretty peaceful life, mostly on her heated bed, until her systems failed her. She was clearly such a tough kitty who at 4 1/2 pounds, was fueled by a strength much larger than her size. I trust that she knew what she wanted, and if she had wanted to hang on longer, she would have, but she knew it was her time. I don't think there could have been a better way for something like this to happen.
One of my favorite memories: My apartment's heat went out so my landlord supplied us with a space heater and we had a very cozy night together!
She was starting to feel the anesthesia so her ears were having trouble staying up, but she was still purring away to the end.