Sugar’s health may finally be failing

This is an update for friends of Sugar only; you know who you are.

Sugar may not have much time left. She’s been losing weight rapidly the last couple weeks, her appetite is intermittent, and she’s been having nausea episodes. She seems remarkably cheerful under the circumstances and still likes human company as much as ever, but … she really does seem old and frail now, which wasn’t so as recently as her 21st birthday in early February.

We’re bracing ourselves. If the rate she’s fading doesn’t change I think we’re going to have to euthanize her within six weeks or so. Possibly sooner. Possibly a lot sooner.

Sugar’s had a good long run. We’ll miss her a lot, but Cathy and I are both clear that it is our duty not to see her suffering prolonged unnecessarily.

If you’re a friend of Sugar and have any option to visit here to say your farewells, best do it immediately.

If you’ve somehow read this far without having met Sugar: I don’t normally blog about strictly personal things, but Sugar is a bit of an institution. She’s been a friend to the many hackers who have guested in our storied basement; I’ve seen her innocent joyfulness light up a lot of faces. We’re not the only people who will be affected by losing her.


  1. I’ve never met her but wish I could have. Man, these past few days are turning really depressing. First a hardware hacker (Chris Boden @ The Geek Group) loses his dog which had to have been around the same age as Sugar. Now you tell me Sugar is going too. I’m quite sympathetic having lost my own dog who was pushing 18. It was a long time ago but it’s still painful to lose an animal that’s been with you for so long. Ada (my cat) is still pretty young at 6 years but I dread the day the same will happen to her. The way I try to look at it is that animals that die of age have lived the fullest life possible and Sugar is one of the oldest cats I’ve ever seen. She clearly had a comfortable life and was loved by her owners. Really that’s what all animals (humans included) could ask for.

  2. I haven’t had the good fortune to meet Sugar, but I understand. We had to have two cats euthanized: Dizzy and Bugsy. We miss both of them.

    21 is a *very* old age for a cat in perfect health. That Sugar lasted as long as she has with her health problems is somewhat astonishing.

    It’s not great consolation, but you can take comfort that Sugar lived a long, full life with people that loved her and cared for her, and that she loved in return. As Lagg commented, it’s about all any of us can really ask.

    1. >21 is a *very* old age for a cat in perfect health. That Sugar lasted as long as she has with her health problems is somewhat astonishing.

      She’s had three years since being diagnosed with chronic renal failure, all but the last month pretty healthy. And beat her actuarial life expectancy by a full six years. Until the last couple of weeks, nobody thought she looked her age. So, yes, we’ve been very fortunate.

  3. Sugar reminds me of Smokey, who was my best friend of any species. I’ve never met her, and I doubt I will now, but I know what it’s like to be confronted with losing such a long-term, loving, and beloved feline pal.

    She’s had a great life, though, long, and full of human friends. In the scheme of things she is a profoundly lucky cat.

  4. There’s no way I can make it to Malvern, dammit. Give her a scratch for me, and tell her she has more friends farther away than she could possibly know.

  5. Damn.

    It never gets easier, even losing a kitten to FIP the bonding still happens so fast.

    Give her an extra pet for me too :’-|

  6. Sorry to hear about your cat, Eric, but it’s a wonder that a cat has lasted so long and says volumes of the care you have taken of her over the years, so it’s good that you are not going to prolong the suffering.

    I am a bit of a cat-lover myself and I think cats are wonderful creatures with their distinct and interesting personalities… too bad that I am not in a position to keep a cat at home.

  7. I’m very sorry to hear that — I know how a cat can touch your life. We had to put down our last one in 2005 after 19 good years. We finally got another one last summer, so he’s still a kitten, really — in fact, I just came back in from helping him off the porch roof. We have all the angst of parents of teenagers all over again — sometimes he doesn’t come home all night — did the coyotes get him?

    On a practical note, I suspect you have a great vet, since you were able to keep Sugar alive so long, but if you don’t, or if your vet doesn’t make house calls, a bit of research might be in order, to make Sugar’s last moments as peaceful as possible.

    When we had to put down a very fragile 13 year old dog about a year ago, I found a great mobile veterinarian. It works out that, because he makes house calls, many people find him for the same reasons, so about half his business is being Dr. Kevorkian, and he’s damned good at it — compassionate, methodical, gentle. The vet warmed up the drugs in his hands, sedated the dog in his own bed, and waited until he was sound asleep, and then some, before administering the lethal dose.

    1. >I suspect you have a great vet, since you were able to keep Sugar alive so long,

      I don’t doubt our veterinary practice is pretty good. The medical people both human- and animal-focused are generally top-flight in the area I live; the best trauma- and burn-rehabilitation hospital in the world, for example, is 10 minutes from here. But I think our vets would tell you Sugar lived so healthy for so long mainly because she’s as tough as old boot leather.

  8. Even those of us who, never having been to your place, have never met Sugar, send our sympathies to you and Cathy.

    Give Sugar an extra hug from all of us.

  9. I know this tune well. My sincerest sympathies to all three of you.

    Since she’s so tough, I expect there’s a special realm in Asgard awaiting her arrival :)

    1. >Damn. First Lileks loses Jasper, now you lose Sugar. Damn.

      Let me note for the record that I think James Lileks is a polemical/satirical genius of the first water whose keyboard I would barely be fit to polish.

  10. Sugar is IIRC about the same age our cat Inu* would be if he were still alive. Sadly he took a spot of our hearts away a little under 3 years ago. It sucks and I sympathize.

    *yes that’s a Japanese name

  11. A heartfelt farewell from here, also. Our oldest had to make her final trip to the vet just a few weeks ago, at age 18.

  12. Condolences on your impending (?) loss mate.

    I lost 2 cats in 2 years, and I *still* see one of them in the corner of my eye every so often–even though he died on another continent and never lived in my current house. It makes me sad all over again when it happens.

    I’m really anxious to find another place to live that doesn’t charge extra for pets.

  13. While I have never met Sugar, I am a cat person, and I feel that I know her after reading your posts about her. I will miss her even though I will never see her in person.


  14. Just don’t wait longer than you should. I selfishly did that with my lab Tar and I regretted it. I couldn’t let her go until her pain was such that I couldn’t end it soon enough. Don’t let it get to that.

    1. >I couldn’t let her go until her pain was such that I couldn’t end it soon enough. Don’t let it get to that.

      We’re very sensitive to that, and we know how she behaves when in pain. It hasn’t come to that yet.

  15. I am so sorry to hear about Sugar. It is amazing that you and Cathy were able to give her 3 more years.

    Our Root Cat was a feral stray black w/touches of white kitten that we adopted in MI and brought home to VA. He was with us for nearly 7 years before succumbing to renal failure as well. We had a dog that lived nearly 15 yrs, and a parakeet that lived nearly 12 yrs and a cockatiel that lived about the same age.

    We take good care of our animals so it came as quite a shock when our vet told us he was in very bad condition and that we needed to put him down. He lays under the azaleas. It still is very hard to deal with.

    However, as anyone who has ever been adopted by a wonderful cat, we all have wonderful memories to sustain us.

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