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Dammit all to hell and gone

AKA RIP: Tillie

I'm shocked and oh, so sorry to be sharing the news that I had Tillie euthanized this afternoon.

Just 6 months ago, I announced the death of Tillie's daughter, Jinx, and posted this picture of them together. And, yes, just this past Friday, I posted about Tillie's health, and problems therewith.

Over the weekend, Tillie seemed to be responding well to the big doses of hairball remedy that the vet prescribed after her feline leukemia and FIV tests came back negative. She was eating -- not a lot, but clearly, actually eating. Food was making it through her digestive track and coming out the other end...still not perfect, but clearly better. Monday evening, she threw up a hairball. A small hairball, but, hey, progress. I thought we were onto something.

Then she disappeared somewhere here in the house and my heart sank. I searched high and low, and high and low a couple more times, eventually finding her under the bed in the little bedroom shortly before noon today. She was all the way in the furthest corner beyond where we're storing the frescos Gavi made in her art materials class this year.

Tillie was alive and clearly able to see and respond to me. She walked out on her own after I started pulling the bed out as that was the only possible way to get to her.

But she was in bad shape. It looked like something neurological had happened. She was not walking right; her back legs seems partially paralyzed. She also seemed dazed and out of it. I called the vet, described what was going on and got an appointment as soon as Dr. Johnson was due in. Then I sat with her on my chest, first on the sofa, then out on the deck. I tried offering her a variety of food and liquid, but didn't force any of it when she clearly turned away from everything on her own.

She was processing enough to walk away when I brought the cat carrier up from the basement. But she wasn't in shape to run and I picked her up before she could get behind the sofa. She was quiet during the entire ride to Sturbridge. That wasn't normal and I was relieved when she let loose a couple of loud complaints as we walked inside.

They had a towel on the exam table. That's never been there before, not even when I took Jinx in and they got a towel to wrap her in afterwards. That should have told me that I'd already told them enough to know how the appointment was likely to end, but I kept hoping for something other than what I heard.

It was an informed guess rather than a certainty, but the vet strongly thinks it was FIP. That's the same fatal illness he thought Jinx had. It's tremendously hard to diagnose. Most of their symptoms were so strikingly different that I wasn't thinking along those lines at all. When Jinx died, I asked if there was any risk to Tillie and he said "no"...but the reality based on what the he said today and what I've read since I got home seems somewhat more complicated than that.

There are aspects to the diagnosis that don't make sense to me, but there are other aspects that clearly fit. And there's contradictory online info from reliable sources. Oh, joy.

Dr. Johnson said there clearly wasn't a bowel obstruction, which was the main thing that might have been fixed. There were a lot of other things she clearly didn't have based on his exam today as well as the tests we did over the last couple of weeks. She didn't have a stroke; I wondered about that, but both the vet and the tech said no.

I asked about five different ways, but there wasn't any known or determinable treatment path that could have reasonably been thought to lead to a healthy cat. I asked about possibly giving her some fluids, since she was somewhat dehydrated. But the vet said she was only mildly dehydrated, that she wasn't dehydrated enough for giving her fluids to have given her significant comfort or improvement. And it wouldn't change anything.

While I've always thought of myself as not being a person who pays thousands of dollars on tests and surgery for a pet, I found myself struggling with that today. If it had been a bowel obstruction, I probably would have put Tillie through surgery to correct that. I would have at least carefully considered it.

But once I'd talked with the vet, there wasn't really anything other than the path we took. The only truly conclusive tests would have been done in an autopsy, and while he mentioned other things we could do, he didn't recommend any of them and spoke against putting her through a lot when it didn't look like any of the answers would turn up anything other than further pointers to a fatal disease. I didn't ask for an autopsy. Knowing for certain wouldn't have improved anything.

I am thankful that her last weeks were filled with Susan and Gavi's company,that those weeks were filled with my spending much more time in the living room than usual, and that she had the joy of company this past weekend, too -- she was very much a people-person cat. She clearly wanted to be with us all right up until she signaled she was done by disappearing. Much as her seeming to be responding to the hairball remedy made her subsequent disappearance and condition this noon all the more shocking, I'm glad she had those days of extra tasty food, of willingly licking new flavors of hairball remedy off the tube instead of the indignity of having it smeared on her paws, etc. etc.

But I really wasn't ready for us to be here, now, so shockingly fast. FIP reportedly can show up in cats of any age, but it's most common in cats under 2 or 3...or over 14. Jinx was 8; Tillie was 9.5 or thereabouts. She showed up on Daddy's porch as a very young, pregnant cat. My sister lured her into his heart with tuna and love.

She was such a sweet, good cat. Susie helped make her Daddy's, then she was mine. Tillie loved it here. And now she's gone.

I hate this. I hate the reality, I hate having to announce it, I hate it all.


( 66 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jun. 12th, 2014 02:41 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry to hear of her loss.
Jun. 12th, 2014 02:48 am (UTC)
Thank you.
Jun. 12th, 2014 02:42 am (UTC)
I'm sorry for your loss.
Jun. 12th, 2014 02:48 am (UTC)
Thank you.
Jun. 12th, 2014 02:52 am (UTC)
That horrible, horrible feeling, that if you had just done something else--yeah, I know that one up close and personal. But you did exactly what you should have done: you gave Tilly a loving human for as long as she had.

I'm so, so sorry, though. Because it still hurts, damn it.
Jun. 12th, 2014 04:17 am (UTC)
Yes, this. Thank you.

My sense of that "if only I'd done something else" feeling is that it's our way of trying to exert control over situations that are often well beyond our control or influence. That's not to say there haven't been times in my life that if I'd done something else than what I did, there most likely would have been a different and probably better outcome -- there clearly have been. I don't think this is one of those times.

Then again, most of what I'm thinking tonight isn't particularly rational. That paragraph might have been, but the thought that I would never again restrict calories or put an overweight cat on a diet certainly isn't.

I like my sister's thought. She wrote: "I think by now Tillie has found Dad...and is begging for fresh caught fish! I just can't imagine it otherwise...."
Jun. 12th, 2014 03:06 am (UTC)
Geri, I'm truly sorry this had to happen to you and Tillie. I know how it hurts; I went through a similar set of vet visits and a goodbye to my catfriend of 9 years, Pejou, in February of this year. The only thing I can offer you is to remember that Tillie loved you and you loved her -- and this final act on your part was the last act of love you had to offer her. You are and were a good mom.

Hold onto your memories of good time spent with Tillie. Her presence was a gift to you that can't be rescinded.
Jun. 12th, 2014 04:21 am (UTC)
Thank you. I'm so sorry you had to say good by to Pejou.

You're absolutely right that Tillie's presence here at Toad Woods these past 33.5 months was a gift to me. A gift I have no desire whatsoever to live without, dammit.
Jun. 12th, 2014 03:09 am (UTC)
I am so sorry. It's dreadful when the choices narrow to unthinkable and unbearable. She had a good life with you. What a gift that was for her after her hardships. Better to have loved and lost....
Jun. 12th, 2014 04:27 am (UTC)
Exactly: the choices narrowed to unthinkable and unbearable. Yet somehow we think and bear our way through, in anguish all the way.

I'm so sick of all the loss. Never of the love, the comfort, the amusement, or the joy, but OMG, the loss....
Jun. 12th, 2014 03:20 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry. You gave her a good life with you, and at the end, you gave her the relief she needed.
Jun. 12th, 2014 04:27 am (UTC)
Thank you.
Jun. 12th, 2014 03:22 am (UTC)
I'm sorry.
Jun. 12th, 2014 04:28 am (UTC)
Thank you.
Jun. 12th, 2014 03:25 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry. I'm glad I was able to meet Tillie and Jinx during our visit to you. You were a good cat mom.
Jun. 12th, 2014 04:28 am (UTC)
Thank you. I'm glad you met them both and hope your travels bring you back this way again.
Jun. 12th, 2014 03:42 am (UTC)
Geri, I am very sorry for your loss.
Jun. 12th, 2014 04:29 am (UTC)
Thank you.
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 12th, 2014 04:33 am (UTC)
Thank you. It's never easy, and it's foolish to compare, but this loss is...

It's bad. It's really, really bad. I think I know some of the reasons why, and it's not even all that important that I do, much as it's in my nature to wonder, think, and analyze.

Ah, the ways we cope, the ways we get through the purely awful....
Jun. 12th, 2014 03:58 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry. *hugs*
Jun. 12th, 2014 04:34 am (UTC)
Thank you. And thank you so much for coming and being here with Tillie and Jinx during their first, utterly alien days at Toad Woods.
Jun. 12th, 2014 04:30 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry. It does sound as if you did everything you could for Tillie.
Jun. 12th, 2014 04:41 am (UTC)
Thank you. I think so, too, on the doing what I could front. Much as I want to make up other stories, other scenarios where doing something different would have meant she was here with me tonight in good health, I don't think there's anything beyond pure fantasy and wishful thinking to base those stories on.
Jun. 12th, 2014 04:33 am (UTC)
Sounds like you did what you could. I'm very sorry for your loss and glad you had Tillie (and Jinx) as long as you did.

Whether it was FIP or not, FIP fucking sucks and can just go away now. There are reportedly some newer tougher strains of FIP (or at least of coronavirus) in the wild these days. (I lost my cat Ivarr to FIP a couple of weeks ago, he would've been four years old tomorrow.)
Jun. 12th, 2014 05:02 am (UTC)
Oh, Laurel! I'm so sorry about Ivarr! Arrgh, arrgh, arrgh.

Thank you for your sympathy. You and Kevin have mine. Yes, FIP fucking sucks.
Jun. 12th, 2014 05:23 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry for your loss. I always find it so difficult to accept...
Jun. 12th, 2014 06:49 am (UTC)
Thank you. Yeah, I'm finding that acceptance thing quite beyond me so far. Early days, and All That Jazz....
Jun. 12th, 2014 05:25 am (UTC)
Alas and alack and all.

When our Pandora was ailing, for quite a long time, the vet told us that we'd know from her behavior when it was actually time. And we did. It sounds like this happened for you with Tillie. So all things are mortal, and cats alas more than humans; but take comfort that you did the right thing for her.
Jun. 12th, 2014 07:02 am (UTC)
Thank you.
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