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toonie
We all have different opinions about our cats and each one of us also experiences unique situations for each one of our cats. People should judge themselves, and help others, not judge others for making different but well considered decisions. Life is tough enough. Hoping this vet's article will help put things in perspective.
Happy Easter everyone and know that life goes on, each day is a new day and a new opportunity.



Guilt is a four-letter-word (and other musings after an unexpected diabetic death) ::
Yesterday was a rough one. I euthanized three cats (due to FeLV, FIV and a case of complicated diabetes). That’s more than usual. Though all were tearful, morale-crushing events, the last of these held out a silver lining for us to marvel at long after the end of this depressing day.

Meesy was a beautiful, undemanding, even-tempered Siamese girl only a decade old. She’d been losing weight over the past few weeks and diabetes had been diagnosed. In spite of the standard diabetic cat protocol, Meesy had suddenly begun to decline rapidly this week. She was no longer responding to the medications and she’d suddenly become seriously weak and dehydrated.

We’d hospitalized her for fluid administration and blood sugar monitoring, hoping to transfer her to an internal medicine specialist in the morning, but her condition had rapidly deteriorated overnight. Once a Siamese with a brash, tuneless voice, Meesy’s cries were now faint, plaintive and pitiful. She was too weak even to swallow food.

Meesy’s owners are pragmatic academic types. They’d been devouring the feline diabetes community website I’d recommended (felinediabetes.com) and had become well versed in the issues surrounding this complex illness. They knew what they’d be up against and their demanding family, work and travel schedule had already weighed heavily on them when deciding how Meesy’s care would be undertaken.

In most cases like this, a family looks at their resources (time, schedules and finances) and often decides not to take on the care of a diabetic. They understand that psychological devotion to their pet and her care is not enough. Their life, work and family schedules must also change—sometimes too dramatically for a family to undertake without life-altering stress.

That’s why guilt is often a huge variable in this equation. Hard-working, heavily-traveling families can’t always change their complex lives on a dime to begin treating a very sick cat, much as they dearly love her—not when the vagaries of a disease process render her care extra-unpredictable. And here’s where guilt wins out and families often reach beyond their means to stem the tide of their loved-one’s decline.

Meesy’s case was by-the-book on the guilt thing. The family tried to reach beyond their limits to start the insulin carefully. But her case was not responding to their ministrations as planned, ad now they’d decided to euthanize her.

Tearfully, they came to the hospital and sat by her cage-side in her final moments. Fatefully, though, they could not bring themselves to have the thoroughly good cry they came for. The stray kitten in the cage next door kept reaching out and grabbing hold of their sweaters with her outstretched paws.

In the end, Meesy crossed the Rainbow Bridge and Turkey Sandwich (yes, that’s her name) found her way to a new home. Predictably, however, guilt trailed the owners out the door:

“Do you think we’re bad people for leaving one cat behind and taking another?”

My take? Guilt is a four-letter word. It’s a social human construct which has no place in a veterinary hospital under any cir%%stances where adoption is the end result. I, too, adopted my Sophie Sue not twelve hours after my former Frenchie exited this world. Sometimes connections just happen and we’d be stupid humans to ignore them based on silly impediments like self-flagellating guilt.

Sure, I can understand the pain of loss and the guilt that attends euthanasia in so many cases. But in my book, rescuing a kitten from the daily boredom and confinement of an animal hospital automatically frees you of this self-imposed torment.

http://www.dolittler.com/index.cfm/2008/2/...diabetes.feline
xrayspex
Toonie my freind...you know only too well my take on guilt. You have successfully demonstrated that guilt is about us and not about the creature. I am still unbelieveably frightened of that monster. I remember after Chase died how sick it made me. I seem to read into this post that a family had to make a heavy hearted decision and were chastised by folks for making it. Maybe for deciding to end the suffering rather than chronic care. People make decisions like this for a variety of heartfelt reasons and if someone came here because they had to make that decision then they needed our help. It angers me to think that they were "beat over the head" with the guilt shovel by someone who in their own opinion thought "they could have done more". I was moved by the question that the owners posed, “Do you think we’re bad people for leaving one cat behind and taking another?” I was angry untill I reached that part of the post and then I began to cry.

I would do just that. I would have a furry creature back in my life in no time at all. While there are probably countless others that disagree due to a variety of "human maladies" such as greiving for a specific amount of time before commiting yourself to another furkid or some other ridiculous notion, I would give another furkid a home at the first opportunity. You are totally aware I lost Abigail one year ago.You responded to my post in kind (THANK YOU wub.gif ) but the point I wish to make is even during the grieving process we had other furbabies come into our lives, Thats what some of us here are born to do...look after that which cannot look after themselves, and live for doing it.

If you spend all that you have and do what you have to do to save your furbaby from crossing the bridge that is well and good. That is what we are here for. But if you use that story to compound the guilt of another because of a decision they made that collides with yours...you have diminished yourself in my eyes and have destroyed any credibility you may have built up that you are "caring" as a human...you have worsened the grief of another...what you have done is "inhumane".
gillian
Toonie,

That makes very interesting reading, and I can relate somewhat ...

8 days before Bono passed away, I'd rescued a kitten from drowning - Darcey.

When I recued Darcey, I had no idea Bono was going to die in a matter of days. But I did know he wasn't keeping as well as he should. He'd been in congestive heart failure for 6 months, but I felt with the medication I was administrating, that surely he'd come through this bad spell.

But he didn't ... And when he died, the animals I had were as distressed as I was. I was unable to sleep, eat property, the guilt was eating me alive ... And I remember coming home from the vets, after seeing Bono's little body, and then sitting on my sofa looking at my remaining animals with tears running down my face, wondering how on Earth I was going to cope.

My Jack Russell, Coveu, quickly became depressed, missing the companionship of his beloved friend, Bono, and sensing the sadness in the home from myself and from my fiancé, he was down for weeks ... He'd normally slept in the kitchen with Bono, and I allowed him to come up to my bed with me to sleep at night for a week or so after Bono died. I've never seen a dog so depressed as Coveu had been. But in a way it was good to have someone to grieve with, as my fiancé seemed to recover from Bono's passing almost immediately.

My adult cat, Sasha, had decided to huff with me for bringing a kitten into her home, and so although not the most affectionate of felines to begin with, she refused to even look at me.

And my kitten, Darcey, an 8-week-old, still living indoors (till she was strong enough to go outdoors) insisted on play fighting, scratching, hiding, crawling up the curtains, getting up to mischief I'd normally laugh at, but which only aggitated me as I was so absorbed in my grief. I resented her presence in my home for those agonising weeks after Bono died. I immediately regretted adopting the kitten; I felt guilty that I had spent the final week of my beloved Bono's life spending time with her, when I could have been spending more time, such precious time, with my beloved Bono. For some weeks I considered rehoming her ... I didn't want her at all ... And it took some time for me to begin to love her as I do now.

Only 2 weeks later, it was my birthday and my fiancé bought me Nieko, a Cavalier King Charles puppy; he was the same breed as Bono, he had the same colouring as Bono, and even some of the same markings as Bono, and I swear sometimes when Nieko was cuddled in my arms, and I looked down at the little round marking on the top of his head (the same marking Bono had) I felt like I was holding Bono again ... Nieko was good for me in that way. And although I did feel somewhat guilty for adopting a new pup so quickly after Bono's death, especially one who looked so much like Bono, I felt it was good for me. In that way, I suppose I was selfish. As Coveu didn't see it that way, and for a few weeks, he snapped and growled at the new puppy, making the situation even more difficult. Of course it wasn't his fault. He was missing Bono, who he didn't understand what had happened to, and suddenly there was a new puppy and kitten in the house ...

Now 16 months on and Nieko and Coveu are brilliant friends, although not as close as Bono and Coveu had been. And Sasha and Darcey tolerate each other.

There was more upheaval for the animals, when I became pregnant, and introduced my son - Joey - into our home, but now the dogs seem to like the baby, and the cats tolerate him.

Tomorrow would have been Bono's 10th birthday. And I miss him dearly.

I suppose the purpose for me writing this is to give my point of view on introducing new animals so quickly, that it is not neccessarily something we should feel guilty about, although we do. That it is perhaps a sign of hope for the future ...

Having a home full of animals is great therapy for me, as I continue to grieve for Bono. But the guilt will always be there ...
toonie
Thank you both for your most considerate replies. Your capacity for compassion is a credit to your kind. Gillian, I can understand your guilt, although you did everything you could for Bono. I think Bono knew you so well, he could quietly understand what you were doing and with all the care that you had always given him, with the way that you were assisting him for his heart problems, instinct is so strong , he knew, he was the one you loved most, I am sure that Bono knew this. But guilt is part of grief, you and many others here who did all correctly all for their baby feel guilt anyways.. I never thought our house would see another cat after I lost my two...it just hurt too much but then a year after I had lost my two, this older ailing barn cat got the idea that if he followed me and looked pathetic enough my heart would melt and it did. Through him I found comfort, when I see him putting on some weight I know that he wouldn't have made it through this winter without a warm house and his own supply of food, with his health issues, I could only take him in because no other cats lived here. Our pets are family, those family ties are obvious to each member, whether mouse or man. When one leaves the family grouping, there is so much sadness felt by all. This part of it is rather interesting because I have barn cats and I don't see this kind of grieving when one of theirs dies, not even much from mothers who lose kittens. So what may be happening there is that the family-adopted animals , through the extraordinary situation they are in, are sort of humanized to such a degree that their emotions develop further, it is by being loved that we learn to love, perhaps this love and care that we give, treating and caring for our animals for all their lives changes their own capacity to love, opens their hearts to more and this would also explain the terrible grief that they go through when the family chain is broken. Grieve they do. I know a lady who had 2 cats, the mother (20 yrs old)and the daughter(18) they lived throughout their lives hating each other, when the mother died at 20 the daughter grieved so much that she let herself die within a few months. Same for others here on board, I remember Moose Mom's kids, the same thing happened one cat died and the other gave up on life. My own soulmate cat, went through the same kind of grief for his brother that I later went through for him, I do fear that he would have been sad all the rest of his life because he was so dependent on his brother for company and he disdained other cats.
Our capacity to love and to feel compassion is a direct result of the love and compassion that others have shown us. As Gibran said, our hearts are a well, made deep by the grief but deep enough to be filled with as much love as well. Take care all and know that life will treat you in kind.
Furkidlets' Mom
QUOTE (xrayspex @ Mar 23 2008, 07:23 AM)
While there are probably countless others that disagree due to a variety of "human maladies" such as greiving for a specific amount of time before commiting yourself to another furkid or some other ridiculous notion, I would give another furkid a home at the first opportunity....Thats what some of us here are born to do...look after that which cannot look after themselves, and live for doing it.

John,

I just have to say that I guess that assessment includes me. Funny...I never believed, despite any attempts by others to impose that guilt trip on me, that the way I'd chosen for myself was "ridiculous" at all, but just a part of self-care during my mourning, as well as a pretty solid and well-thought-out plan for my present and future survival. I guess, in some people's minds, caregiving to the larger community of needy animals just isn't 'good enough' nor serves any part of the bigger picture.

Nor, it seems, do some people here consider it proper that the death of a furbaby, specifically a cat, can be felt to be just as bad as the death of a human child, as someone else here recently suggested. Nice. So I'm "striking out" on both counts....at least in some people's minds, if not my own.

And yet, I stand by my personal convictions for myself, and BY myself if necessary.
gillian
Furkidlets' Mom,

I think it is true that we all deal with the loss of our furbabies in different ways. Some of us (which includes myself and John) feel ready to open our hearts to new furbabies fairly soon after the death.

When Bono died, within days I was aching for a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel ... I have no idea why other than I wanted a furbaby as close to Bono as I could find. Of course, what I really wanted was Bono back ...

But I felt so guilty. I hadn't even received his ashes and I was thinking of another dog. I felt selfish ... But in hindsight I don't think I was ... It was just my way of getting by ... I think it was my way of coping!

But I didn't have the heart to go out and buy another puppy ... I couldn't bear to do anything which I feared might disrespect Bono in some way ...

But 2 weeks on, and Nieko was actually a surprise gift for me for my birthday. With Nieko being so similar to Bono, he was good for me as I grieved. When I felt like my heart was going through Hell, Nieko would make me smile in his puppy ways. He'd let me cuddle him close while I cried for Bono. And in a way, he was hope for me, that I could move on, and that I was still needed just as much as I was needed with Bono.

I don't feel guilty for adopting him any more, as I know Bono would have loved him ... and I would have had his blessing.

As for Darcey, she'd be dead if it weren't for me, and if I had rehomed her, she'd have been a very lucky cat if she had been placed in a home as good as mine. I made the right decision for Darcey in keeping her.

Your way of coping is different ... You need time, space ... That's to be respected. But I feel that when the time comes that you do decide to adopt a furbaby that it will be the best decision you'll make. It will make you happy ... and your happiness will mean a lot to your 2 furbabies who have now passed on ...

Regardless, your decision to wait until you feel ready is not "ridiculous". It is your way of coping ...

Take care. x
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