One week ago today, my 14yr old cat was put to sleep. Velvet was an amazing cat. She was the type of cat that even non-cat people adored. She purred almost constantly, loved to be held and to ride on the shoulder of anyone who would give her the opportunity. She would pet people with her paw for attention. She would play catch and fetch with balled up receipts. Lately, she was happiest sitting between Jonathan and I on our date nights.
I knew her symptoms were serious when I brought her to the vet that morning. Earlier in the year she had been treated for hyperthyroidism and had finally started gaining weight again, however she wouldn’t take the thyroid medicine Wednesday evening. What I did not know is that she couldn’t swallow because her chest cavity was filling with fluid due to heart failure. The fluid was squeezing her trachea making it impossible to swallow. She seemed so normal the day before.
Then I was faced with a choice from the vet: try lasics which may work for a couple days until her heart stops or euthanize to prevent her from suffocating on the fluid in her chest. Since she wasn’t swallowing pills, I made the painful choice to euthanize Velvet. Having had pneumonia in the past, I can only imagine how terrible it must be to suffocate on the fluid in your chest.
I carried Velvet around the vet’s office on my shoulder. She purred as I cried. My poor sweet cat. I refused to let the vet take her out of my site. I followed them to the operating room and gently stroked her ears while they shaved her leg to insert the catheter. Over and over I said, “It’s OK.” in the softest voice I could even though nothing was ok. First the vet injected the sedative and I held Velvet in my arms until she fell asleep. Licking my arm was her final sentient act. I stroked her head gently as the vet injected the euthanasia drug. I put her paw in my hand just before she stopped breathing.
For the past week I’ve cried for her at least once a day. Velvet was with me longer than any person had chosen to stay with me. She always came to me when I was crying. She always greeted guests at the door.
For a few days I felt guilty for choosing to euthanize her. Could lasics have worked? At least for a couple more days? Selfish thoughts. How could I pill a cat with lasics when she won’t take pills because she can’t swallow? If I were a cat, would I want to be constantly pilled for my last few days on earth only to suffocate anyway? No. I would want my person to be with me. I would want my person to comfort me and love me and tell me softly everything will be ok. So that’s what I did. Even though it is not ok.