Monday, May 14, 2012

Loss of a Best Friend

Let me warn you, if you are an animal lover, this will most likely make you very sad.  I'm crying as I type this and I have been for most of the day and not afraid to say that, but I'm hoping that through expressing my feelings as I am experiencing them, that this will help with my healing process, because right now the pain and sadness is pretty tough.  I'm hoping the sadness is replaced by all the great memories as time goes on.   

I had always dreaded the day when I'd have to make the gut wrenching decision to put a pet to sleep.  We had 4 fuzzy babies and I knew that day would probably come, but I just tried to forget about it and just hope they would live forever.   If I thought about it for too long, I would briefly cry and then I'd go hug them and tell them they have to live forever, but unfortunately that's not how life works.

All four fuzzy babies

We were on our last day of vacation in San Francisco and our pet sitter called Friday night to say our kitty Stinky had been throwing up.  This wasn't completely abnormal, but something to be aware of.  She had gone back to our house a 3rd time at 11pm that night to double check on him because she was concerned.  The next morning she brought him into our vet and they gave him fluids and could not get his insulin levels down.  He was diabetic since around 2002.  So I immediately thought Pancreatitis, since he had that issue once before and it commonly re-occurs in pets that have had it once.  That basically means that your body is not producing insulin and your glucose levels remain abnormally high, which is especially problematic for a diabetic.  They treated him all day and the pet sitter brought him to the Animal ER at night and they could not get his glucose levels down.

They were always best buddies, together the longest
The only course of treatment is an aggressive regiment of IV fluids, antibiotics and time.  That involves a week or more of being treated 24/7 by a specialist by day and ER by night.  Last time we knew we wanted to have him treated, because if he were able to fight it off he stood a good chance of getting back to normal and he did.  However, this time Stinky also had a Thyroid issue and his kidney levels were in the high range.  He's also suffered from what we call twitches that are probably due to his diabetes and they seem to have gotten worse over time.  If we were to put him through the aggressive treatment for Pancreatitis, he would still have the Thyroid issue, kidney issues and all the other things he dealt with on a daily basis.

Waiting in line for water

The main decision came to us when we went to see him for the first time after being back from vacation, at approx 10:30pm last night.  He was lying under a blanket hooked up to IV fluids and was not very responsive at all.  He would look up but could barely lift his head.  He wouldn't respond when we called his name and hugged and pet him like he normally would.  We knew right then that we couldn't put him through that any longer.

All sprawled out

I actually had moments of peace shortly after, knowing that we did what was best and I was able to say something funny and laugh, but that has been followed by extreme bouts of sadness and pain knowing that he won't be coming home.  His health has been on the decline and he hasn't been his full self for about a year though, so we truly know deep down inside it was time, but man, this is so hard.

Chillin' outside

Any mention of his name or thinking about him and I can't help but breakdown.  He was such a special kitty to me and was there for me through so much.  I stole him from my mom's house one day back in I think 2000.  I met my wife in 2001, so he'd been with her for almost all of that time as well and he would sleep on her hand next to her pillow, so it's been very difficult for her as well.

All the boys chilling on the bed with Marla one day, Stink on her arm

Let me breakdown how he came into my life and everything we went through together.

Cleaning Monkey

He was a cat that wandered around my parent's neighborhood and was cared for by various people, but didn't have a permanent home as far as they knew.  He was super affectionate and I knew right away I was taking him home and I truly believe I was meant to have him.  With everything he went through, I don't think anyone else would have given him the amount of care and support that we have over the years and I truly believe he lived a better life for it.  I found out later his name in the neighborhood was Peanut, but I didn't know that and affectionately called him Stinky.  That was because he suffered from stinky breath, but that was no reason not to love him!  ;)


He was such a trooper, always taking everything in stride and pushing on through whatever came his way.  And that was always what I admired about him.  Nothing would bother him.  We went though so much with him.  He developed diabetes in 2002 and while it was unexpected and a bit scary to have to give him shots, we quickly got over it and he didn't miss a beat.

He even tolerated antlers, but not for long

My wife and I moved to Florida in 2003 and we had our first crisis.  We didn't realize that he wasn't eating a normal amount of food on the trip down and he was still getting his regular insulin.  We arrived at our apartment, unpacked some stuff and left to go shopping.  We came back and were horrified to find he had gone into diabetic shock at some point when we were gone.  Luckily we had passed a vet on our shopping trip and it was 2 minutes away and they quickly recognized the symptoms, gave him a sugar substance and he quickly came out of it.  That was one of the scariest moments we experienced and it had happened 2-3 times since then with one bad bout recently.  But he rolled on through and was fine a day or two later.

Getting some fresh air

Back in I think 2004-5 one of his toes started to swell.  Issues with toes/feet are common for diabetics and we ended up having to have his toe removed.  Again, didn't miss a beat, it was more traumatizing for us than him.

Sniffing the fresh air with Poker

Around that same time, his gums got a bit red and started to swell, which was basically gingivitis.  That would explain the reason I called him Stinky to begin with.  The vet told us that they've had great success removing teeth from cats and they usually recover remarkably well.  He had several problematic teeth removed and eventually they recommended just removing them all once and for all.  That was a very tough decision.  Diabetics take more time to recover, but we know his teeth were bothering him so we did it.  That was one of the best decisions ever.  Again, after a regular recovery time, he was better than ever!  Apparently cats rarely chew their food, so their teeth really aren't essential.  And miraculously, he was stinky no more!  His breath was completely neutral from that point on.

Hanging in the sun with Monkey

He always had SoftPaws on, which are are plastic covers that go over their nails so they won't scratch things.  That was mostly because he loved to paw our faces at night.  We would change them out based on the season, but the favorite color was blue.  You can probably make them out in some of the pictures.  He didn't mind it one bit and wore them well!

Keeping warm
Those are the main things that stand out, but he went through so much more and never was one to complain and he was always back to his normal happy self shortly after, letting us know we made the right decisions.  We referred to him as the Golden Kitty at times due to the amount of $ we spent on his care, but we'd never change a thing.  We got back so much love and affection that it was never a question.

I am thankful for all of the great memories we have and for him being there for me for us for so many years and I'm sure he is grateful for finding us and getting so much care and love in return.  I will do my best to try and focus on all of the good times we had and be grateful.

Getting some sun
Stinky loved chilling in the sun, enjoyed instigating fights with his brothers and loved to give and get affection almost as much as Poker does.  He was such a friendly kitty and was never afraid of new people, always went with the flow.  

I am glad we have 3 other kitties to help lessen the pain. Unfortunately we had to bring 2 others to the vet last night and today also while all this was going on, but Poker should be good once his one med dosage is adjusted and Sage most likely has a urinary tract infection due to getting stressed out when we go away.  It's happened before, so it's just something we'll have to contend with.

His favorite spot and mine was with him laying on my arm in the chair
Stinky will always be in our hearts and thoughts and we are so glad for having had him in our lives!  I know he made a big impact on everyone that he's come across at the various vet locations and since he had a name that made people laugh/smile, it will be tough for lots of people.  Be sure to hug your pets today and give them some extra treats for me!


Shawn said...

As a pet lover, I understand. Very sorry for your loss.

Jen said...

It is def. hard loosing a pet and I hate to think about it. You did the right thing and we'll always remember what a great kitty he was.

Jen S said...

You took such good care of Stinky through the years despite his health issues. It is always hard to lose one of your babies, and he sounds like a great friend. My fur babies will get extra cuddles tonight...if they don't cause trouble or break anything.

Chris said...

Thanks guys, appreciate it.

Mock family said...

yeah, I don't like this at all :( grandma made me laugh today though when she told me a story about pop and the pharmacy. They asked him why people called him stinky and he goes, they don't call me stinky! He goes well don't you have diabetes medicine and he goes yeah... and she said well they have you down as stinky! So he goes home to tell gma and she thought it was funny and then was reminded that you had a cat named stinky! made me laugh momentarily, i remember it when it happened but was a nice funny memory

Chris said...

Haha...That was HILARIOUS...Thanks, I remember the story from back then also, but it was especially funny today! :o)

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