For those who have met Sugar

I don’t often blog about strictly personal things here. Even when it may seem that I’m blogging about myself, my goal is normally to use my life as a lens to examine issues larger than any of my merely personal concerns. But occasionally, this has led me to blog about my cat Sugar, as when I wrote about the ethology of the purr, the Nose of Peace, the mirror test and coping with anticipated grief.

But this blog has developed a community of regulars, too, some of whom have met and been charmed by Sugar while being houseguests at my place. It is therefore my sad duty to report that she has entered the rapid end-stage of senescent decline often seen in cats. After days of not eating and signs of chronic pain, she has been diagnosed with hepatic cysts, acute nephritis and renal failure. She’s now on a catheter at the vet’s; they’re hoping to restart her kidneys and treat the nephritis with antibiotics. But in the best case, our vet doesn’t think she has more than six months left, and that much may require heroic measures including daily subcutaneous fluid injections. He has not recommended euthanasia, but if her kidneys don’t reboot within a day or three that will be coming. He hasn’t said, but I don’t think he likes her odds of surviving this crisis.

None of this is surprising Cathy or myself very much. Signs of senile decay – hyperesthesia, night yowling – have been accumulating over the last six months. We’re both realists who have responded by learning as much about cat geriatrics as web searches will turn up, which is quite a lot. I already had renal failure pegged as the most likely thing to take Sugar out; usually it’s either that or heart failure in very old cats. And Sugar is very old, 18 or 19 depending on her exact age when we inherited her. We’d been hoping for another year, but it is now very unlikely we will get that.

It will probably not surprise those of you who have met Sugar to hear that she didn’t at any time take out her pain on her humans. While she showed some tendency to half-conceal herself in places she didn’t normally lurk after becoming overtly ill, she still purred at being touched. If she were a human, I’d have said she was being brave and stoical.

The house feels empty without Sugar in it. Knowing she’s hooked up to a catheter, in pain, and fighting for her life is difficult for us. We may very soon have to make a hard decision about whether prolonging her life is the kindest thing we can do, and that weighs on us. Cathy looks a bit shell-shocked, and I don’t blame her. We both love Sugar, but caring for her has an extra layer of meaning for Cathy because it fulfilled her mother’s deathbed request. Emotionally, for her, I think this is like a replay of watching the end stage of her mother’s terminal cancer.

I’m not superstitious enough to believe supportive thoughts from others can help our cat survive, but I invite all our friends to think of Sugar kindly and hope for her survival because it is a tribute her life has deserved. She’s been a wonderful cat, unfailingly well-mannered and affectionate to us and friendly to our guests – the visible soul of our home for seventeen years. She’s brightened the lives of at least a couple of dozen other humans as well; at least twice I’ve seen cat-deprived friends on the verge of happy tears because Sugar was so unaffectedly nice to them.

We’re trying to keep ourselves reminded that seventeen years is a very long run for a cat, she’s had an extremely happy life, and that we have no grounds for complaint or bitterness because it’s nearing a natural and inevitable end. We know we’ve done right by her and have no regrets. Still, this isn’t easy, and not likely to get any easier before it ends.

UPDATE: Friday afternoon: the vet reports that Sugar is eating again and tolerating the IV drip pretty well. The risk of prompt death seems to be receding. We’ll know more by Monday.

UPDATE2: Saturday afternoon. Vet says Sugar is eating canned food and behaving normally. This probably means the nephritis is knocked out and her kidneys are functioning again. He sounds a little amazed.

UPDATE3: Sunday afternoon. Sugar is now moving around enough that the vet’s people have to work a bit to keep the fluid-drip line from kinking. They do not regard this as a bad thing.

UPDATE4: Monday afternoon. Sugar is coming home. Alive, with her kidneys restarted, and as well as can be expected given the long-term tend of kidney-function decline (she’s a tough little creature!). We’re not going to do sub-cu fluids, as the vet says they might be helpful but are not yet necessary; we’ll re-evaluate in two weeks when she gets her antibiotic booster shot. Thanks everyone for the supportive comments.

63 thoughts on “For those who have met Sugar

  1. I haven’t met her, but I’m sorry to hear that. My Condolences.

  2. Imagine if Sugar had left you an offspring, which had some of her personality. Reproduction is an integral part of immortality.

  3. >Imagine if Sugar had left you an offspring, which had some of her personality. Reproduction is an integral part of immortality.

    I’m going to ask the vet if there’s any realistic way to preserve a genetic sample. As far as I know nobody is cloning cats yet, but it’s not implausible in the near term.

  4. Eric, I am deeply sorry to hear that Sugar’s illness has progressed this far.

  5. >Eric, I am deeply sorry to hear that Sugar’s illness has progressed this far.

    In retrospect, I think you were actually here for the beginning of the end when you were visiting over the July 4th weekend. That was when the signs of senescent decay started to accelerate seriously.

    I’m glad you got to meet Sugar while she was still healthy. She liked you.

  6. I still contend that Sugar was the reward for some exceptionally kind, but not terribly devout, Buddhist.

    There aren’t many pleasanter spins of the wheel reincarnation that beat being a housecat for you and Cathy.

  7. Eric, having been through this with several cats myself, you and Cathy have my deepest admiration and sympathy. Sugar is very fortunate to have humans who are both extremely caring and extremely realistic.

    Btw, I have to wonder if the appearance of the following Lazarus Long quote at the top of the page when I clicked on this post was not just a coincidence:

    > When the need arises – and it does – you must be able to shoot your own dog. Don’t farm it out – that doesn’t make it nicer, it makes it worse.

  8. I never got to meet Sugar, but she’s always been the famous cat from the DRAG.NET presentation you and Rob Landley did years ago. http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/dragnet/dragnet.html

    My wife and I are owned by two kitties, both in Sugar’s age range. We can imagine how you must feel. You are right to focus on the good times you had together. All the best to you, Cathy, and Sugar.

  9. I often wonder about companion animals like cats and dogs. The great ones are content to just enjoy the life they have been granted, enjoy their companion humans and other animals should they have them. Enjoy their food, and in the case of cats, enjoy the sunshine on their backs, enjoy that half sleep that cats always do. Enjoy chasing a feather, or a reflection, or do that weird click sound that cats make at the bird on the window sill, and prepare to pounce, with their butt stuck up in the air.

    These animals, for whatever reason, have mastered the art of being content. The passage of time is inexorable, and the end comes to us all eventually. How much of our time is wasted in empty concerns when we could simply learn to be content?

    Humans have higher level cognitive functions than cats for sure. A sunbeam isn’t enough for us. But surely there is a lesson for us in a cat. We can pursue our goals, change the world, make our mark. But, in the peace and quiet of our own homes, in the circle of our friends, in the turmoil of our own mind, learn from a cat. Chase a feather. Purr with the one you love. Enjoy the sunshine.

    Both you and Cathy have my sympathy during this difficult time.

  10. I lost my cat Dizzy to renal failure years back Dizzy was only seven. The vet commented that the problem with renal failure in cats was that by the time they showed symptoms, it was too late. I got the same prediction of 6 months to live. The vet said I might prolong things by forcing massive amounts of fluid into Dizyy to provide the flushing of toxins the kidneys no longer provided, but he didn’t think that would be a very good life for the cat or me and recommended euthanasia. I agreed.

    I still miss the little fellow, but I’d make the same decision if confronted with it again.

    I suspect you’ll be confronted with the same choice, and make the same decision. The saving grace for the pair of you is that 17 or 18 *is* a very good run for a cat. Sugar would be departing soon regardless, and renal failure just happened to be the cause.

    Sugar will change from a cherished presence to a cherished memory, unstained by any failure or omission on your parts.

    I’m sorry I never had the opportunity to meet Sugar. She sounds like a treasure, and will leave a gap it will be hard to fill.

  11. >I suspect you’ll be confronted with the same choice, and make the same decision.

    I consider that the most likely scenario, yes.

  12. I’ve never been to your house that Sugar wasn’t there. I no longer remember whether she recognized me on the second visit, but I’m certain she recognized me on my last several. She was always happy to see me, and not just because she knew she’d get the attention rightfully due the true mistress of the house. The number of people who greet me with that level of happiness every time is nonzero, but it’s damned small.

    The house will be an emptier place without her.

  13. I’m going to ask the vet if there’s any realistic way to preserve a genetic sample. As far as I know nobody is cloning cats yet, but it’s not implausible in the near term.

    At least one firm (Genetic Savings & Clone) has done trial runs of commercial cat cloning. Careful, though: apparently cat fur coloration is highly environment-sensitive, so cloned cats will not even look exactly like their genetic parents.

  14. Eric, it’s sad to hear this. I went through a similar set of circumstances with my cat, Rocky, just recently. Like Sugar, Rocky adopted my ex-wife and I after her brother couldn’t (or wouldn’t) keep him. He was fat and gregarious and loved his people. At home he was most content buzzing happily away on my chest with bonus points if he could block my access to my laptop.

    On the weekends I’d take him with me to the dropzone where I teach skydiving. He’d spend the 90 minute drive sitting on my lap with his paws perched on the window sill. Once there he ingratiated himself with the other skydivers. It always made me laugh to watch some of my friends, former and current Special Forces Operators and all around scary individuals, turn in to big softies when they played with him.

    Sadly, his age and renal failure eventually caught up with him and he died in my arms. He’s been cremated and we’ll be dumping his ashes in the sky above the DZ soon. After hanging out and befriending so many skydivers I think he deserves at least one jump.

    It still hurts to remember my big fat guy but that’s because the animals that adopt us are truly some of the best friends we’ll ever have.

  15. Pingback: Daily Pundit » When Beloved Pets Pass On….ESR and Sugar

  16. I’m sorry to hear about Sugar. One or more cats have been part of our household continually since the 70s. Average lifetimes for humans and cats being what they are I’ve experienced their kitten-to-death cycle several times. The end is always painful, all the way around, no exceptions. My sympathy.

  17. While she showed some tendency to half-conceal herself in places she didn’t normally lurk after becoming overtly ill, she still purred at being touched.

    The hiding thing is her pre-shutdown instinct kicking in. Sugar knows her time has come.

    Ashley was much the same in her last few weeks of life. Refreshingly, the last time I saw her she looked directly at me with her yellow eyes and gave a little purr-trill, her standard greeting for friendly humans. Just like she used to do since kittenhood. This despite being quite out to lunch and nearly blind.

  18. >apparently cat fur coloration is highly environment-sensitive, so cloned cats will not even look exactly like their genetic parents.

    That’s unimportant. It’s Sugar’s personality that matters to us, not her markings (she’s always been a pretty cat, but in a girl-next-door way that had more to do with good health and the way she carried herself than anything else). We know a clone wouldn’t be exactly like the original, but also have reason to believe she was genetically predisposed towards having a sweet and human-friendly affect.

    Anyway, it appears that Genetic Savings & Clone closed in 2006.

  19. You have my sympathy. I’ve lost four dogs. The last one was my mother’s. He would have been 20.

  20. This sounds a lot like what happened with my Star. I had just put her up at a boarding facility (run by and next door to her vet’s office) for a week while I traveled to Arkansas to bring Sabrina back. When I picked Star up, she seemed listless and wouldn’t eat…not even tuna or baby food (strained meats) that she used to wolf down whenever she got them. I called the vet’s office and got the earliest possible appointment I could, Monday morning. We loaded her into her carrying box and took her in…but, by the time we got there, she was gone.

    It probably was renal failure, though we didn’t have her autopsied to find out. My opinion was that, after my ex-wife left for Finland (taking our other cat, Maui, with her), Star stuck around long enough to make sure I wasn’t alone anymore, and then she said, “My work here is done.” She was around 16 when she passed, and she’d been 9 when we first adopted her, and, for all I know, she might have been put down had we not come along to take her home, meaning she got seven good years of life she might not otherwise have had. And, to top it off, she spared me having to make the wrenching decision to put her down, by passing en route to the vet’s office and taking it out of my hands. Greater love hath no cat for any human.

    It was a very sad time, and I still miss her…but, a couple of years later, we finally adopted a new cat. Penny is not Star, and she can never “replace” Star…but she has proven herself a worthy successor. And, as she was much younger at time of adoption (about a year), we expect she’ll be around for some time to come.

  21. This is how our cat, Eliza Doolittle, went. We went with the subcutaneous fluids (and I got very good with IVs) for ~2 months. To the best of our knowledge, Eliza wasn’t in pain, but she certainly wasn’t herself — she mostly slept between meals and fluid injections. Eventually she expired in her sleep, at home. I choose to think of it as giving hospice care to a loved one, instead of consigning them to the extraordinary efforts of a hospital.

  22. I’ve been through this loop several times myself. It always hurts to lose a good feline companion.

    You & Cathy have my kindest sympathies…and I simply wish Sugar warmest peace.

  23. I’m sorry. Wishing peace for you and Cathy at this difficult time.

  24. Sugar is a maine coon isn’t she?

    My cat Tiger is too….

    Argghhh…..

  25. Eric, I say this as someone who very much loves cats and who does respect you, so please don’t take it the wrong way:

    Put her down. It’s time.

    And please accept my deepest condolences.

  26. The semi-retired blogger Rachel Lucas went through this with her dog, Digger, in 2007. I wanted to share what she wrote about it because she has a talent for writing in a way that touches the heart. I’ll warn you that the post is pretty detailed about what you may be going through very soon, and as such, you may not want to read it. There is one part I want to call out to you, though, mainly because it sounds plausible that you are in a place, emotionally, that is similar to what she describes, and laments after the fact.

    First the permalink to the post: http://www.rachellucas.com/2007/11/gone/

    Now the quote:
    “I have to say some stuff about the decision I made in the hopes it’ll help someone and their own old dog some day. As I struggled to come to terms with everything yesterday, I realized something I did not want to realize: I waited too long. I sat on Digger’s bed crying and feeling like I’d “gotten rid” of him, like I’d done something I shouldn’t have done, and all of a sudden, visions of Digger in the last few months started pouring through my brain. I could see him struggling to get up and down, being scared to be alone, following me around the house nervously, walking so slowly and awkwardly at the park and on walks. I remembered how his body looked when he slept, tense and with those back legs pulled up so tight because his hips hurt. The fact that he could still poop, pee, eat, walk, and enjoy affection had convinced me he wasn’t ready, but now as I think back about it all, I can see that his pain was worse than I had admitted to myself. He hurt all the time and I didn’t put myself in his shoes soon enough.

    Now that it’s done, I regret very much that I didn’t do it sooner. He wasn’t crippled or incontinent or sick, and that made it easier to deny that it was time for him to have some peace. Please, if you have an old hurting dog, think about this sooner than I did. I know I took good care of him, I gave medications to help him, I made sure he was as comfortable as possible, but damn. I think his last few months of life weren’t worth it to him. I’m not going to beat myself up about it, but I sincerely believe that if I had read all of this on another blog a few months ago, I would have faced facts then and would have stopped tricking myself into thinking he was better than he really was.”

    As a longtime reader, I wish you peace in this difficult time.

  27. >Sugar is a maine coon isn’t she?

    No, though we think she may be a Coon mix. Straight-up American shorthair by her markings, but she’s rather large and has a Coon-like double coat, temperament, and vocalization range.

  28. >Put her down. It’s time.

    It may come to that soon, and I accept the advice in the spirit it was given.

    I think Cathy and I have already settled that we will not prolong Sugar’s suffering if she comes back to us debilitated and in pain.

  29. Heh. I just called my sister Lisa, who sometime boards Sugar during our vacations, with the news that Sugar is eating again and may be at least partially recovering.

    Her reaction: “Wow. That cat is like a freak of nature or something….”

    I get what she means; I guess maybe Sugar is tougher than any of us gave her credit for.

    I’m proud of my cat today.

  30. I haz a sad.

    I empathize deeply with your plight. I had this situation happen to me about a year ago with my 19 year old cat. She was clearly past her time. Of course, she perked up and fought against the vet at the time of the final injection. That was very hard on me. So, my word of advice would be to take advantage of the existing IV and spare Sugar the pain of another line in a few months.

    I am terribly sorry for your loss and I wish I had the honor of meeting her.

  31. I’m glad to hear that she is doing better. Nothing can replace a beloved pet; just know that, when the time comes, you will befriend another that will charm you in his or her own unique and different way.

  32. >So, my word of advice would be to take advantage of the existing IV and spare Sugar the pain of another line in a few months.

    It comes down to whether how much of the kidney failure was due to the bacterial nephritis versus long-term senescence changes, and the tell will be in her bloodwork once the antibiotics have taken out the infection. The best case – which is at least possible now – is that she will recover most of her renal function and resume a slow but mostly pain-free decline (I say “mostly” because she has arthritis). The worst case is that her renal function is basically gone and only a continuing regime of sub-cu fluids will keep her alive. If that’s the case, we’ll probably opt for euthanasia.

  33. Sorry to hear of your beloved pet’s illness; here’s hoping she can hold out a while longer.

  34. Sugar’s a good cat and I’ve enjoyed her company every time I’ve visited.

    I’m very pleased with the news that she’s better, and I trust you and Cathy to make a good decision.

  35. I’m so sorry to hear this. I’ve never met Sugar, but I’ve enjoyed reading about her here, and hearing about her from you in person. Be strong.

  36. All cats go to heaven :^). I’m very glad that y’all had such a wonderful presence in your lives. I’ve been there many times myself (I’m a serial stray adopter), so I feel for you deeply.

    Peace.

  37. Though I haven’t met Sugar, I am deeply sympathic to you all over Sugar’s illness (and age). My husband and I shelter two aging tomcats, both once strays in our neighborhood. One has diabetes. We spend whatever it takes to give them more time. They are people to us, as I imagine Sugar is to you. Those who haven’t lived with a great cat might not understand. Best wishes to Sugar and you both, and thanks for keeping us informed.

  38. I sympathize deeply. My wife and I went through this with our dog, Misty, last October just days after her 15th birthday, quite old for a Husky-Shepard mix. For about a week, she had not been drinking and for the first time ever, it seemed that she was coming for her walk, because we were going, not because it was ‘her’ walk as it had been for 14years. We found her at the local pound and she turned out to be a gem of a dog. And then she collapsed during her last walk. I had to get a wheelbarrow to carry her home. At that point, she was down to about 75 pounds. The vet diagnosed renal failure and a choice of heroic measures or not. We let her go.
    Damn, I thought I could write about this now, but I’ve made myself cry. Miss that dog.
    Out new rescue is such a different dog, but will never be a replacement.

    And here is a neat little tale worth reading and thinking about:

    http://www.petloss.com/poems/maingrp/dogshevn.htm

  39. Something odd, mostly off topic.

    I was following this thread from work. I have two computers there, one XP for the corporate stuff, and a Linux box running ubuntu.
    The corporate box has some pretty sever filters that block some types of sites so I flipped to the linux box to follow a link in one of the posts.

    Couldn’t find the post. Last time I checked at work, I think there were 34 posts visible from linux/ubuntu/firefox, and 93 visible from xp/IE7.

    When I got home to another linux box, same setup except I think this box is several versions of Ubuntu later, I can see 38 posts, and am still missing the post with the link to a picture of Sugar. (Not a problem, I can go to catb and the skit page and look at the kitty picture again — I saw it first when Eric and Rob first did the skit.)

    Just the difference in visibility is odd. Is there a known oops at ibiblio that lost some of the posts so that a corporate proxy was caching them?
    The set I can see from here is about the same as what I could see from the linux box at work an hour or so ago.

    Back on topic, Lois Bujold said it well, death is a part of life, part of the package. She was speaking of a baby — a birth. Into this world I bring a death. A birth, a death, and everything that goes between.

    It sounds as if Sugar had a long and fruitful life, and stands a good chance at a fairly abrupt end. I hope to be so fortunate.

    Write on Eric,
    Jim

  40. I’ve been there.

    I had a terrible string of luck where several cats died in two years time. Barnaby was rough, he had renal failure just like Sugar. We had to do the sub-Q fluids treatment for a couple weeks. He let me know when it was time. I took him to the vet and was there to comfort him when he was put down.

    The hardest one was Boudreaux, he contracted cytauxzoonosis. He went missing and showed up when he was really sick. I know he came to say goodby. My vet is a great and compasionate man. He did everything possible, but eventually had to put him down. He called me before he did it. I wasn’t there. That was really hard.

    I scattered his ashes under the cedars with the others.

    As bad as it may hurt, you should both be there when the end arrives. It’s easier in the long run.

    Sincerely,

    Monty

  41. I tell you with a tear in my eye, I feel for you, and I hope your pain can’t compare to your fond memories. Here’s to a cat so great its fame spreads across the internet. May its time left in this realm of existance be filled with love.

  42. Please, please, please…do NOT do the sub-cu fluids regime. It will not only torture Sugar, but will harm your soul as well. I’ve been there. I find myself crying thinking about it. Put her down if it gets to that point. Best wishes.

  43. Sorry to hear about it. Of course, I haven’t met the poor fur ball. But I know what it is like. My partner and I have the most adorable 17 year old, Friedrich, who has IBD. Holding up so far, and diet matters a lot, but he came to us from an unfortunate environment and ate a lot of crap for most of his life. For him, at least, many fish, B12, anti-inflammatories and Evo dry food seem the best combo. I’ll end up with a cat or two again, but it will take a while after The Fried goes.

    I hope Sugar gives ‘em hell, you all have nonstressful, good time together, and when the time comes, it doesn’t hurt more than it needs to. Surviving a dear kitten is hard. My thoughts are with all three of you.

  44. Sorry to hear about it too. It hard to lose a family pet even to old age.

  45. I do hope extra days, weeks, months, (can I even hope years?), of enjoyment of Sugar’s company, and peace for you and Cathy when the time comes. (May I even pray?)

    On a note I hope more funny than flippant, my wife and I once had a male kitten that ran away, never to be seem by us again, before it was a year old. It (he) had been neutered, and we named him Unix. Unix the Eunich. We were both Comp Sci grads (:

    We missed him though.

  46. I am sorry.

    The illness or loss of a pet is always painful. But they are worth it.

  47. Saturday afternoon. Vet says Sugar is eating canned food and behaving normally. This probably means the nephritis is knocked out and her kidneys are functioning again. He sounds a little amazed.

  48. I’ve only met Sugar once (just a few weeks ago) and was impressed by her delightful, affectionate personality. I’m glad to hear that she has weathered the crisis and is doing well.

  49. A cat like Sugar, and my Minkey, is a great blessing to be with, however long that may be.

    My thoughts are with all of you Eric, Cathy and Sugar, during this difficult time.

  50. Given the short lifespan of cats and pets, I wonder why scientists don’t try to improve longevity over generations of dogs and cats?

  51. There’s a cloning company (they do horses, cattle and pigs) that does not clone cats or dogs but will take a sample and establish a cell line for gene banking. We did it for Seebs’ remarkable cat Greystoke, so that if ever someone starts up kitty cloning again, we have preserved the option of having another cat like him. I can’t testify about outcomes, since we’ve had no occasion to try (and probably couldn’t afford it anyway), but the company is here:
    http://www.viagen.com/our-services/preserving-your-pets/

  52. Glad she seems to be getting better. Keep up the good fight, Sugar!

    [ All this is probably rather prescient and not that far in the future for us too as our cat Inu is 17.5 ish and showing signs of decline too. He's been on kidney strengthening medicine for years now so kidney failure looks like his eventual fate as well. ]

  53. My companion in college, Karmul, had a similar episode in about 1997. He was diabetic. With insulin injections, he lived until 2003, which is apparently unheard of. He did have 3 episodes during those years when we had to adjust his meds, but he had a pretty strong life right up to the last week or so.

    Good luck with Sugar, I’m hoping you have a similar experience to mine.

  54. I’m sorry to hear she’s entering the final stretch, but glad she seems to be emerging from this particular setback. I’ve been in a similar situation this year, as Tom’s night-time yowling and mobility problems have increased dramatically. At the end of last November, the vet caused me to believe Tom would be dead in a matter of weeks as a result of kidney failure and a hyperactive thyroid. But his condition stabilized when I started mixing 200mg of CoQ-10 in his food every day (not to be pushy, but I can’t recommend this miraculous supplement highly enough). And I switched to a vet who was willing to prescribe thyroid medicine despite his low kidney function.

    In the past few weeks, though, he seems to have had a series of periodic mini-strokes which have made him increasingly wobbly and weak. I suspect this wonderful old orange tabby is nearing the end of the respite he’s had this past nine months.

  55. Monday afternoon. Sugar is coming home. Alive, with her kidneys restarted, and as well as can be expected given the long-term tend of kidney-function decline (she’s a tough little creature!). We’re not going to do sub-cu fluids, as the vet says they might be helpful but are not yet necessary; we’ll re-evaluate in two weeks when she gets her antibiotic booster shot. Thanks everyone for the supportive comments.

  56. What an amazing animal! All of my best wishes go to you and Sugar. I hope she lives out her remaining time in peace and happiness.

  57. Tuesday: Sugar seems a bit tired (well, she’s convalescing) but reassuringly normal. Thunderous purring and affectionateness towards all nearby humans have resumed.

    Actually, if there’s any change in behavior it’s that she’s a bit less willing to let humans out of her sight than she was last week. She’s taken to following me around when I leave my office.

  58. When our cat reached the point where the vet was talking about daily subcutaneous fluid objections, we decided it was time to let her go. The vet gave her one treatment, but because her kidneys were no longer effective at retaining water, it all poured out into the litter box, leaving her painfully dehydrated again. And we didn’t think being put through daily injections was any life for a cat anyway. We cried buckets at the vet’s, but I’ve never felt that we did the wrong thing.

    If you get to that point, and Sugar responds better, give thanks to Bast. But I wish you courage when it’s time to make the hard choice, for Sugar’s sake as well as yours.

    In the meantime, I’m glad to hear she’s doing better. I hope it continues for a while.

  59. >If you get to that point, and Sugar responds better, give thanks to Bast. But I wish you courage when it’s time to make the hard choice, for Sugar’s sake as well as yours.

    I think the comments in this post here and on G+, including this one, have been helpful with that. They inform me that, faced with the reality of sub-cu treatment, that most people among my commenters either have not regretted euthanizing or have wished they’d done it sooner. That is useful information; it helps me understand the probability distribution of outcomes, and it is a good thing for Cathy to know as she sorts out her emotions about the situation.

    >In the meantime, I’m glad to hear she’s doing better. I hope it continues for a while.

    We are feeling quite blessed at the moment. Sugar actually seems a little friskier than she had for months before treatment; in retrospect, I think the early stages of the nephritis were draining her energy.

  60. Just this summer, we went through something roughly similar with our 17.5-year-old MinPin, Deacon. Sandra and I would have been relieved if Deacon had just quietly gone to sleep and passed away; instead, we had to make the very-very-hard call to our vet. I was startled and a bit stunned when Dr. Jones (a wonderful vet, BTW, the best we’ve ever had) asked if we just wanted to drop Deacon off and/or have them dispose of his body; we told him that not only did we want to be there, but that we would take him home with us for burial.

    And we did. ..bruce..

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