Every night she likes to come down after the kids are in bed. She waits. When the doors are closed and we're reading books, she sneaks downstairs and is waiting for us. She'll sit on our lap, on the couch, sometimes just sitting in the middle of the family room floor. She just likes to be with us and the time she lost hiding during the day, she makes up at night.
Did I mention I got her when I was 17? This means she's 16. Yes, that's how old I am. Now I'm not a vet or anything but I'm also not stupid and I know how old cats live to be (I am capable of Googling things). She is so little, only 6 pounds, if she were to get sick she doesn't have any meat on her bones to keep her going. I worry about how I will handle telling the kids that their cat, no my cat, is gone. Of course, if I think about it too much I get all teary eyed and start to cry.
So this post is simply about how much I love my cat. That's all. She's not a playful cat, she hides from just about everyone and slinks around the house so much that when she stands up and walks like a normal cat, she seems to have grown 3". If you want to find her it's almost a guarantee that you will find her in my bedroom either sleeping on the bed, on the floor under the bed, or in the closet. But she's my cat. She's beautiful and as I type this she is sleeping on the couch behind me. Purring.
I originally wrote this on 9/16, I didn't post it because I didn't figure anyone really would want to read it. I wrote it for myself and have since realized that I want everyone to read it. Besides which, it's my blog and I can write about whatever I want!
Two weeks ago things changed with Riesen. We noticed she looked thinner and she seemed to be slinking around lower than usual. I weighed her and she weighed a whopping 5 lbs 1 oz. I haven't taken her to the vet in forever and was concerned about bringing her. She is so scared I didn't want to stress her out even more. She was still eating, just not keeping the weight on.
The vet told us to give her wet food, either for seniors or for kittens since they both have a higher fat content and to give her plenty of treats.
Off to the pet store I went to buy a variety of canned cat food and more treats. The treats she had has a lower fat content than others and we were looking to fatten her up. With food and treats in hand we went home to give her this new (disgusting smelling) cuisine. Well she did not want to eat it mixed with her dry but she ate it plain but then she wasn't.
She slowly stopped eating as much of her food and wasn't touching the dry food at all. Can after can we'd open and she would only lick at the gravy. We took her to the vet in hope that she had only a tooth abscess, they would yank the tooth and she would be fine. Deep inside I knew this wasn't the case, but the glimmer of hope was still there.
The extremely mean vet told me that she was in the final stage of renal failure and was anemic and if I had brought her in sooner she may have been ok. He said she was in pain, dehydrated, and did I want to put her down right then and there? At this point I was sobbing, I told him no, asked him to give her some fluids, and said I would bring her home for now.
When I picked the kids up after the visit, Sunshine figured it out immediately. She asked if the vet told us that Riesen had to die. How do you respond to that? I couldn't lie but it broke my heart to tell her yes. We both cried as I told her she was very old, very sick and it was almost her time to die.
I brought her home and we kept her with us for the weekend. She stopped eating altogether, and was only drinking water when it was coming from the faucet. She slept in her bed in our closet and uncharacteristically let the kids hold her. We took picture after picture of her and every night we made sure we said good night to her and every morning we said good morning. We made sure we reminded the kids that she was sick and it was important to remember her good morning and good nights.
Hubby and I had decided that Monday would be the day. If God didn't take her sooner, we were going to help and make her pain go away. At night she came down as always and laid on my lap. She didn't perch on my lap, but laid down and rested her weight on me. Laying her head on my hand or arm, she only moved to switch positions.
We had decided Monday since the kids would be in school. We would take her then and tell her she passed during the day. I had already told them that she died while they were gone that I was going to bring her to the vet. Sunday night Hubby and I told them to say good-bye to her, we said we weren't sure she would make it through the night.
The kids saying good-bye was awful. Sunshine didn't want to leave the closet where Riesen had been sleeping most of the day. She laid there while Sunshine gently stroked her telling her how much she loved her and what a wonderful cat she was. She told me she never wanted another cat, she just wanted to keep Riesen.
While we were putting the kids to bed, Riesen went downstairs to wait for Hubby and me, just like always. She sat in the family room, watching us. As I had every night, I fed her. I gave her a fresh can of cat food that she no longer even sniffed at and let the faucet run while she drank more water. Then I picked her up and we sat and watched TV. We sat and watched TV for 3 hours, long after I would normally stay up watching but she stayed there on my lap the whole time, letting me pet her, while I thought about 17 years of love and how she now had less than half a day left. At midnight she finally got up when the couch was bumped into.
Hubby, Riesen and I went up to bed and, again, she sat and watched and waited. I brought her into bed because she was having a hard time making the big jump, and she slept with us for one last night. She slept perched on me and by my stomach, something she hasn't done in years, she stayed with me all night long. When she would normally have jumped down in the morning, she was still there, sleeping by my feet. I wanted to stay in bed and never move, I didn't want the day to begin, I wanted to feel the weight of her against or on me for as long as possible.
The kids of course saw her and were extremely happy that their good-bye wasn't really a good-bye. I made sure Sunshine gave her extra hugs and kisses though. At this point I think she didn't believe me. I think she really thought that she would still be there when she came home and the next morning when she woke up.
The worst part of making the decision to put your animal to sleep is deciding when. When do you go to the vet? 8:30? 9:00? 9:30? Which time is the right time? Then when you get there, when do you say now is the time? After 5 minutes of holding and cuddling? 10 minutes? There will never be enough time because you want the time to last forever. You never want to say good-bye, you never want to let your pet go. That selfish part of me was saying that maybe she wasn't so bad because, look! she's wandering around sniffing at things! Never mind that she hasn't eaten or pooped in a week or that her eyes are no longer bright and shiny. I was scared to weigh her because I didn't want to know what the scale would read, why bother?
She was dying and it was going to happen, it was merely a matter of when. The next day? In 3 days? How long can a 5 lb cat go without eating? Probably not very long. I knew she had to be hurting, how could she not? Starving, dehydrated, and in pain is not a life or a death I would want to endure, how could I expect this of her.
We saw a different vet at the office, (complained about the first, this vet apologized and apparently that vet is known to be a jackass, but is the owner of the clinic), and we waited. They let us in the side door. The door that no one wants to go in and let us go into the room that no one else wants to visit. They let us sit in there as long as we wanted before anyone did anything and let us get ready. We cried and said our good-bye and held her, cuddled her, kissed her. When she wanted to look around, we let her down to wander the room for a minute, I couldn't get the thought out of my head that these are her last minutes as well, even if she doesn't know it. We cried and when they came in to put in the catheter, we cried even more.
The absolute worse feeling in the world is looking at your animal and knowing that they trust you, thinking that you are going to take care of them and you knowing what is about to happen. I sat there with my cat as the anesthesia almost immediately took effect. She laid on my hand and, as they described, pretty much "went to sleep". But it wasn't sleep, and it wasn't how she ever fell asleep, and I couldn't change my mind. I wanted to scream NO, I'VE CHANGED MY MIND! Please, please don't do this. I cried and apologized to her. I apologized for not taking better care of her, I apologized for betraying her trust when she needed it most, I apologized for ending her life. I questioned God and my beliefs. I questioned what was going to happen. I didn't care that she was 17 and sick, she wasn't supposed to die this way. This wasn't humane! I betrayed her!
We stayed long after, petting her and taking in every hair and spot on her. When she died she rested her body on my whole hand. I kept my hand there, remembering the weight of her and pretending the warmth that I was feeling was real. I knew once I removed my hand, I couldn't put it back under, lifting her body up was not an option for me. I didn't want to feel her limp like that. We cried some more but neither of us wanted to leave. To leave meant leaving for good. Leaving her and never seeing her again. Before we left, we wrapped her in the blanket they had her on, gave her one last kiss, and left our Riesen forever.
The kids handled it fairly well. I think Sunshine was surprised since she was still there this morning after I said she might not make it the night before. She kept saying she wished she could have just one more good-bye and to pet her just one more time. I kept telling both of us that "just one more" is never enough and we would always be asking for "just one more". I told her she had that one more good-bye that morning but I know it wasn't enough. Because, one more will never be enough.
Riesen: April 1996 - March 18, 2013