Adieu, Monsieur-qui-parle

Author: fraise

Thursday 5 August 2010, in Cats

Grey, 30 May 2010

In a very sad turn of events, I chose to have Grey put to sleep today. On Tuesday evening, by chance, I took an earlier bus home than usual. This turned out to be a fateful coincidence: as soon as I got home and washed my face, Grey used the litterbox near the sink. I glanced at it, then panicked — there was a lot of blood in and around his stool. I rushed him to a nearby vet — had I come home at the usual time, the vet would have been closed.

Grey was hospitalized, given blood transfusions and several tests. I took the next afternoon off to return to the vet and check on him. More tests were needed, since Grey had tested negative for the first ones done. I agreed to the extra tests, keeping in mind that if he had something transmissible, Kanoko and Patches would also be at risk for it. Results still came back negative for them all: it wasn’t poisoning, FeLV, FIV, or anything else that could be tested. Bloodwork showed he was very anemic and having liver problems, but it wasn’t fatty liver syndrome. (He had been eating and drinking fine; I’d been watching closely since I had been worried about how thin he’d become recently.) Very low red blood cell counts; very high white blood cell counts; low albumin, high bilirubin. Kidneys and heart were fine. The vets — two work at the clinic I went to — both agreed it was an autoimmune disease, very probably Feline Infectious Peritonitis. Quote from that article: “One of the most difficult aspects of FIP is that there is no simple diagnostic test. The ELISA, IFA, and virus-neutralization tests detect the presence of coronavirus antibodies in a cat, but these tests cannot differentiate between the various strains of feline coronavirus. A positive result means only that the cat has had a prior exposure to coronavirus, but not necessarily one that causes FIP.” The “good” thing is, that it’s mainly transmitted in unclean environments; I’ve always been good about litterbox and general cleanliness, plus Kanoko is at a healthy age and Patches, constantly hiding, hasn’t been in contact with Grey or anything that could transfer from him.

As for treatment, it could have been possible to keep Grey alive for another week, few weeks, perhaps a month or two. However, for that to work, he needed to eat… and yet he refused. I took him home yesterday evening and tried to give him some of the delicious-smelling prescription food the vet had given me. He turned his nose away from it. This is a cat who would gallop to the kitchen, meowing up a storm, as soon as he heard his metal food dish come out. (I give a bit of wet food to Kanoko and Grey from time to time, in addition to their usual carnivore-specific dry food.) I tried using the feeding syringe the vet had given me, putting food onto Grey’s tongue through his teeth. He swallowed it dutifully, but ran away and hid on a dining chair under the table when I tried a second syringe.

I woke this morning to Grey on the floor by the bedside, waiting for me. He meowed when he saw my eyes open. I snuggled him, then picked him up and took him out on the patio. He didn’t want to sit in his favorite pigeon-watching spot. Instead he hopped onto his favorite chair and meowed for me again. I offered him some food. He turned away, huffing. I tried the syringe again. He swallowed, but refused some, leaving bits of wet food on his mouth that he didn’t lick off. I ended up having to sponge the food off his fur. I brushed him, which made him purr with happiness, then he set to cleaning his front paws, even the one bandaged to protect the needle kept in his arm for further transfusions.

I took him back to the vet just afterwards, as we’d agreed the night before. Grey had another transfusion. The vet told me to come back at three this afternoon, after she’d observed him some more and had a firmer idea of his prognosis. When I returned at three, the vet had him in her arms, and Grey nearly lept out for joy on seeing me, meowing and pawing excitedly. I took him in my arms. He purred his motorboat purr and kneaded my shoulder and arm. The vet told me he was still refusing to eat, even with a syringe. His prognosis was very bad; to survive he would need daily transfusions. I brought up euthanasia and the vet agreed. Grey stayed in my arms the whole time, purring and head-butting me up until the end.

Monsieur-qui-parle was a pet name I gave him, since he was always keeping up a conversation with me. The vets remarked on it too, noticing his different tones of voice and how purposeful he was with his meows; for him it was clearly communication, he never meowed just for meowing’s sake. And he was always so gentle; an exceptionally sweet, kind cat. I miss him very much. However, I’m also glad I was able to let him go while he still had the heart and energy to purr. I couldn’t stand to see him suffer and not even find joy in eating.

14 responses to “Adieu, Monsieur-qui-parle”

  1. delaido Says:

    This is so hard to read. I’m terribly sad about this turn of events, your loss, and Kanoko’s loss.

  2. erin :: the olive notes Says:

    Hi Anna,
    I’ve just recently started following your blog and really enjoy reading about your area in France. I must say that this post brought tears to my eyes b/c only just this week we had a really big health scare with one of our cats and I ran this scenario over in my head already -although luckily, now he’s doing much better. But I can feel a bit of the weight on your heart and I’m so sorry
    -Erin

  3. Berber Says:

    Dear Anna I am so sorry for you. I know this is a very hard decision to make. Poor kitty, he had a great live with you though! Good luck, all the strength you need and I think you are very brave.

  4. Janson Says:

    How sad, but tender and dignified. Many, many felines would be blessed to have a friend like you. We waited too long with my first boyhood cat; I’m still haunted by how much he suffered. I’ve never made that same mistake again. So good on you.

  5. Coleen Says:

    Anna, I’m so sorry. Such a heart wrenching thing, but compassionate in the end.

  6. Sasho Says:

    Have followed your blog through at least 2 iterations and love the way you tell your story (not to mention the part of France in which it takes place).

    I am so, so sorry about your kitty. He was adorable in narrative as well as in photo. And he was clearly quite in love with you. I am glad you had a chance to be with him at the end. These little fur persons, they make an impression on our lives, don’t they?

  7. Simon Says:

    Hi Anna

    I’m so sorry for you. I know how hard a decision it must have been and I can only echo the other comments above. Clearly Grey was happy and content to the end and I hope that you can take comfort from it. Best Wishes.

  8. Barb in Minnesota Says:

    Dear Anna,
    My heart goes out to you – this strikes close to home as we recently lost our beloved Toni to kidney disease. Like you, we held her in our arms right up to the end. It’s so hard to lose one of our family, isn’t it? Rest assured that you were the best thing to ever happen to Grey. You made the right decision.
    Fondly,
    Barb in Minnesota

  9. Iris Says:

    I’m so sorry for your lost, but you did the right thing. I too, had to put a beloved cat down due to FIP. It would have been selfish of me to keep him alive for a while longer when he was starving himself to death because he felt so bad. If only there was a cure. . .

  10. Heather W. Says:

    Dear Anna – I’m so so sorry. My faithful cat Inky died late last year (of what I think was fatty liver disease). It was so painful to see her so weak and in the end she passed away at the vet overnight. So, I wasn’t with her. I’m glad you got to say a loving goodbye to Grey.

  11. Jojolabanane Says:

    Anna

    Have just returned from quite a long break from the computer to read through a few back entries to your blog – and found this very sad news. It is sooooo difficult to make that decision, but it is always the right one. I can recall really blubbing while my Joseph was put to sleep in my arms, but hearing his purr till the end and being there with him meant that it was the right time. Am crying now (at work) and feel your loss profoundly. You know in your heart that you gave him the best forever home he could ever have wished for.

  12. fraise Says:

    Jojo it’s so hard, isn’t it? It’s been nearly three weeks and I still cry too, Grey was such a sweet cat and always let me know how happy he was. Whenever I pass one of his spots, I miss his bubbly purr and ears perked for scritches.

    It’s really helped to have such thoughtful comments from visitors – y’all long-time readers are great.

  13. Thierry Says:

    Tu as fait le bon choix, enfin le choix le plus “humain”, qui est d’ailleurs refusé à des êtres humains, mais bon, c’est un autre débat… :(

  14. fraise Says:

    Oui, j’y pense comme ça aussi — dans mon état on a le droit de choisir l’euthanasie. C’est le “Death with Dignity Act”, j’ai pu voter pour ! http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/ph/pas/

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