This week’s post is a tough one. I’m experiencing what many people experience when their pet’s life is drawing to a close. My own cat, Phoebe, has been in kidney failure for 3 years. She’s done quite well, all things considered, and I’ve had her 3 years longer than I expected to. More recently, she began to exhibit signs of a specific form of stomach cancer that occurs in cats that have had inflammatory bowel disease for a long time. Suffice to say that last Monday, I was facing down some extremely difficult decisions about how much testing and treatment it was fair to put her through. She’s 16 years old.
I opted to try some medical management to see how she did. We’ve had a much better week and her whole attitude and physical status are much, much better. I’m confident that I’ve bought her some time, though I know that ultimately, I’m going to lose the fight against the renal disease and/or the cancer.
What I decided was an utterly personal choice based on the knowledge of my own cat’s tolerances and preferences. The forms of medication, which medications, whether I’m breaking the ‘rules’ of how to give the drugs or not, etc. … It’s all a balance between what I can do as her vet and what I should do as her owner. Phoebe will be with me for as long as she feels good. When she doesn’t, my obligations are clear to me. I owe her no less and far more.
Let me just say plainly that I have always been empathetic to owners’ difficult decisions for end-of-life care. Now, my sympathies are even more deeply rooted, having had to face this on a personal level. I will never know what it’s like for -you-, because your life and your bond with your pet are things I can’t know personally. We -all- know the pain of decisions and loss.
Today, though, I’d like to celebrate shared lives. A part of who we are is shaped by our companions. They are family. We grow together, we grow old together, we help one another even in the most difficult of times.
The photo above was found on this Tumblr blog.
Please note that Tumblr is kind of the Wild Wild West of the internet these days. I can’t vouch for the content on the rest of that blog or any other.
Have a pet photo you’d like to share? Email Me!