Yesterday, on a bright day in early spring, I let Kano—my little ray of sunshine—go. I was ready last Friday, but the vet was hesitant, so I waited. Kano was probably ready a month ago, after his last major event—which was probably a stroke.
The past four weeks have been a whirlwind of cleaning poop from Kano’s behind, cleaning his bedding, cleaning the floor in his room, following him after his many trips to the litter box to make sure his rear was clear, drugs, drugs and more drugs. There were numerous trips to the vet. The only issue with them was that my vet of choice—who Kano had been with since he was a kitten—is now semi-retired, so is in the office only on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I tried to time our visits around that, but it didn’t always work out.
To reduce Kano’s stress—as well as reduce my cost—the vet taught me to give intramuscular and subcutaneous injections, and to administer a subcutaneous fluid drip. The final week, Kano got fluids every night.Kano’s major problem was arthritis. It progressively worsened over the last two winters. The worse it got, the less time he spent up and about. The less he moved, the worse it got. When you explain these things to cats, they only watch your lips move and purr. He also had chronic kidney issues and developed a heart murmur. Murmurs are purrs without the rumbling.
I don’t regret any of my actions—regret is such a bad state of mind. If I were to do it again with prior knowledge, I would have ended it last Friday, if not right after Kano’s stroke last month. I could see the signs. Beyond spending nearly all of his time sleeping, Kano quit eating. That might have come because he could not stand well enough to brace while defecating. He would strain, then his back legs—where his arthritis was the worst—collapsed and he would struggle to get back on his feet. He just gave up and walked away. Then, he would be back in the box a few minutes later to try again. I definitely would call it off before the day of enemas at the vet (last Saturday), but I didn’t.
My husband, Shinko, went through some similar things near the end of his life. I am thankful he tried to hard to stay with me, but the last week, he could no longer make decisions for himself. I was glad, after a couple of hospital stays a few months earlier, that he asked me not to send him to hospice. He was home, where he belonged. I did my best. That final week started with what I believe was a stroke. He was unstable on his feet and confused. He became like a child, willing to do what I asked. For him, if I could have made a choice, I would have let him go Saturday morning, when he lay down for the last time and quickly became catatonic, then rigid, then cold—except for his torso, his cheeks and the palm of his hand, which I frequently held. He was done. I knew it, and felt helpless to help him. I actually had the means—hospice gave me morphine at some point. I was afraid, so I followed all the rules. I won’t make that mistake again.
After I got home from the vet, with only Kake—my other cat, who went with me even if he didn’t understand what was going on—I began cleaning up. It gave me something to do besides cry. I gathered all the soiled bedding to wash. I collected all the boxes-cum-steps that led to the window seats for the past half year. I removed the litter box from the powder room next to the kitchen—it will be nice to contain the litter to Kake’s upstairs bedroom again. It was a beautiful spring day in Seattle, so I opened all the windows. It’s a good thing to do when someone passes—and light a little incense. And sing.
Last evening, I received a surprise box from my friend, Carla. I didn’t even hear her sneak up the front steps and leave the gift. I was on the phone with my Mom—the only person I talked to last night—when I got a text that said, “Look on your front porch.” The box was filled with silly little items, and with love. I laughed. I immediately set up the tiny Zen garden, complete with sand, meditation chimes and incense. It was perfect.
Going to bed—which had become a long, involved process of giving pills and fluids to Kano—was as simple as saying, “Kake, let’s go to bed.” This morning was equally disorienting.
Now, I feel sadness and calm.
I am filled with gratitude for all of my friends and family for their support during the loss of Kano. A special thank you to Dr Rowse, Maddie, and everyone else at Ballard Animal Hospital.
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