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Goodbye Kyoko

This isn't very well-written, but I decided to put it down largely to work through and let go of some of it.

So, as some may know, I had to put my cat Kyoko to sleep last Saturday morning. It was really really hard for me. I'd been pretty depressed for a while since she'd been in poor health off and on for a couple months. It was a hard decision to make. Even now, a couple days later, the sadness is very raw.
I had to have her stay at my mom's since I moved from my old apartment to in with my dad, but he is allergic to cats. Kyoko had hyperthyroidism, which we diagnosed and started treating last fall just after I moved, but she wasn't taking well to the Methimazole Transdermal medicine (when we'd get close to a proper dose she'd get sick, ie vomiting and not eating.) Basically the thyroid mutates(?) and releases hormones that tell the body to always be in overdrive, kind of like a very high metabolism. Coming into it, we didn't know it was going to be such a hard thing to treat. We thought you give them meds to get the thyroid under control and then could do radiation treatment to take care of the problem, but it wasn't working well. We tried the Hills thyroid food too without success. We even tried some kind of herbal "Thyroid Gold" drops with no help either.
We battled many times of her being ill to the point of not knowing what to do, but somehow she'd manage to spring back and be ok for another couple weeks or so, but it was never enough to think seriously about the radiation treatment. She never regained close to her normal weight, maybe half at best, and went through being little more than skin and bone several times. I'd visit her every morning before work to give her an extra meal and try to get her to eat a little more (since mom went to work a lot earlier than I did). I'd visit her several evenings too. I could see days when she'd sit off in a corner and not seem to be feeling well, and other days she'd be up and about and sitting on our laps. Hyperthyroidism really takes a toll on the body- her heart rate was always up, her pupils wide, and it accelerates the function of the rest of the body. She would always be hungry and thirsty (when she was feeling well enough to want to eat.) Sometimes she would be agitated or antsy. Eventually she was getting dehydrated despite the water she was drinking, and we started going to the vet to get her subcutaneous fluids every week (basically giving her an IV of fluid under the skin.) Then twice a week and we had to learn how to do it at home. Then every other day. Her kidneys seemed to be getting worse and worse, just pushing out all her fluids. She was battling with diarrhea with what little she ate. She wouldn't eat most foods. She wasn't grooming much, and didn't purr much anymore.
We could have maybe pushed more, gone through more rounds of medications for eating and nausea, force fed her, and pushed more fluids, but it seemed like the battle was near an end. She wasn't going to get better. Maybe she would feel a little better the next week if we tried really hard, but maybe not. At what point is it not fair to keep putting her through this? I already know what I felt had to be done, but I weighed and weighed and didn't want to make the decision out loud. I didn't want to declare my time with her over.
All the maybes run through your mind. Maybe if I'd caught it earlier, it wouldn't have gotten as bad. Maybe if I'd known more at first, if we'd somehow treated it more aggressively, it would have been better. Maybe if I'd known about the radiation treatment earlier and pushed for it more seriously we could have considered it. Maybe if I was living with her, I could have kept up with her better, and she would have been happier. But the reality is how things are.

It got to the point that fluids weren't really lasting more than a day even though we gave her quite a bit- her body would sponge them up and spit them back out. She was licking at food, but not really eating it, though she acted hungry. She was having trouble making it to the litterbox sometimes. She had little to no weight left in her, and was walking around like an old woman, weakly and sometimes unsteadily. I know her body would push on, but I just didn't want to see her suffering anymore. I didn't want to see her get worse. She couldn't tell me how she was feeling, but everything about her behavior said not great. So I told mom to make her an appointment. I figured it was best to choose when was good to spend final time with her than have the choice taken from us later.
I spent Thurs night and all of Friday with her. She laid near me or on my lap most of the day. We fed her her favorite tuna. We just quietly spent the day together. I knew this day would come a while ago, but it didn't make it any easier.
I slept on the couch to be out with her that night. Saturday morning she woke me up sitting on my chest to say she was hungry. I dozed a little longer and she sat next to me. We gave her more tuna and love. We looked at her quietly until it couldn't be delayed any longer, and then drove to the vet- my mom came with me. Kyoko was quiet in the carrier in the car. When we arrived, I didn't notice at first since I was already crying, but we found something was up- they had been robbed the night before of all their controlled drugs, so they were still finishing up taking inventory. A little part of me thought "well maybe we'll just have to go home and do it another day". But the euthanasia stuff was not taken.
Somehow it seemed too easy after that. The vet gave her a sedative to help her relax. She laid there weakly, not really able to move, as we petted her. Then an injection to stop her heart. I stroked her as her chest rose and fell, feeling the gentle beat of her heart through her body. But then I couldn't feel it anymore and her chest gave a last little shudder. I could see that her life was gone. The vet left us alone for a little while. I stroked her a few more times just to get one last memory of the touch of her fur. I cried so much. I didn't feel like staying with the body long- it was empty, it wasn't her anymore, I didn't want to keep looking at her discarded shell. The vet wrapped her up and placed her in a box for us to bury.
I took the box and we brought her home. My mom's boyfriend already dug us a deep hole in the backyard, around where mom's cat Socks was buried a few years ago. We slipped a few of her favorite toys in the box, and then I placed her in and we covered her up, and placed some flowers. I havn't been back there yet though I should soon.
Seeing her die was hard. Its hard not to have that burned into your mind. I think in the long run it'll help though- I know she's gone. I saw her go. I'll less expect to see her trotting up to the door or coming around the corner though I know her ghost memory will linger.
I just wanted to get away after that. I'm kind of a private person, I don't like crying in front of other people. I don't like feeling like a spectacle to murmurs of "it'll be ok". There's nothing anyone can do to change what happened.

I originally got Kyoko from a shelter during my second year of college, when I was first living in an apartment (I lived in a dorm the first year.) She was around a year old or so when I got her, which would have been around 2000. She was such a beautiful calico, and made a quiet "mrrrt?". I had resolved to get a non-kitten for various reasons, and she was perfect. She was always such an amazingly friendly and loving cat, and I had her with me most of the time after, even through several moves (let me tell you FL to NJ via full car with a cat wasn't the most pleasant thing.)
We were always close, she loved to be around whatever was going on, or on my lap. She was there when I'd get home, and just always around to cheer me up. She was this warm furry presence making my life better. So many days of memories.
I really feel like I've lost a best friend. I had looked forward to eventually moving into another place and having her with me again, but now she's gone.

I've been crying so much. I feel relief that she's not going through this anymore, but I miss her so much. I cry every day to think she's not there to visit and hold anymore. I don't care if she's "in a better place" or in "kitty heaven." I'm sad she's not here, but I'm glad she's not in pain anymore. Death is something we will all face eventually. I would have felt worse if she died naturally, because with her problems it wouldn't have been a pleasant way to go. Not everyone is going to go peacefully in their sleep so we must face the choice.


I just have to say, if you notice the signs of hyperthyroidism in your cat, get them checked out right away. Its becoming increasingly common. You'll usually see increased hunger/eating and drinking but weight loss, and likely increased litterbox use, particularly peeing, but symptoms aren't always the same. If untreated your cat will just waste away. The radiation treatment is expensive but generally works, and in the long run is cheaper and easier than the medication since the meds will need to be used for the rest of the cat's life.
Research doesn't seem clear to the cause, though it may have to do with something in canned fish cat foods and fish in general (pollution levels?).
I also found this group to be incredibly helpful (they are friendly and highly active)- http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/feline-hyperT/
There is also a good amount of information around the internet to tell you more about the illness and treatment.

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Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
tuftears
Apr. 10th, 2013 05:38 am (UTC)
Awww. :(
thedarkmaterial
Apr. 10th, 2013 09:32 am (UTC)
Oh, I am so, so sorry. I'm all weepy from reading it because I understand. My Pie-kitty is like Kyoko, she can't bear to be apart from me, and I worry about what would happen to her if something happened to me.

I figured it was best to choose when was good to spend final time with her than have the choice taken from us later.

There is really something to be said for this. With horses, sometimes what kills them comes on so quickly that there's no warning even if it's an older horse and you know it's probably going to be soon anyway. I've already talked to the barn's owner to make sure she knows if it's at all possible, I want to be with the pony when his time comes (if I was his owner, that would be obvious, but his owners-on-paper are somewhere else and he's just my happy place), and hopefully that'll happen even if it's, "The vet's on his way, you need to get here as fast as you can," but optimally, we'd get lucky and he'd be one of those horses that just goes slowly and you make the appointment a few days before, and you know. I just...don't know that that's likely at all, because of the way they're built and fall apart. :/
selina_fox
Apr. 10th, 2013 10:20 am (UTC)
I've been following your journey on Twitter and my thoughts have been with you. I know what it's like to bond with a cat, any time they leave us is too soon.

I'm attempting to switch my cats over to a raw diet, with varying degrees of success, because I'm hoping to give them a better chance of good health in their older years. I believe commercial cat foods have a lot to answer for.

It has been many years since I lost my Zammie cat to a murdering cat-trapper and I'm still not over it. Some of them just touch our lives that deeply and bless our memories forever.

Hugs to you...
amanda_now
Apr. 10th, 2013 06:56 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry. My first cat Colby, my best friend of 10 years, died after sudden illness last March. I know how hard this is. It doesn't seem to be better but it's easier to deal with. You gave her a wonderful life and did everything you could for her to help her be healthy and well. I struggle to forgive myself because I feel like I should have done more. I don't know if you feel the same way but you should know that you deserve to give yourself forgiveness.

This is a poem that helped me when Colby died. I never really liked the rainbow bridge story because I don't believe in an afterlife, as much as I wish it was true. I think we live on by becoming part of the Earth. Anyway I found this poem online and felt it meshed with that belief. I hope it comforts you.

"Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die."
fieryphoenix
Apr. 11th, 2013 07:30 pm (UTC)
Reading this brought tears to my eyes. I'm so sorry.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )