April 1, 2007

The Long? Goodbye

Dudley's been diagnosed with a smorgasbord of issues, any one of which could lead to his demise. It's certainly not a threat of an *untimely* demise: he's eighteen and a half, venerable for a cat. Especially one who spent his first eight years as an indoor/outdoor cat, at a ratio of about 30/70 whenever he could get it.

The biggest issue (or, looked at another way, the only one that's actually treatable), is chronic renal failure. The kidneys going is actually what takes out a fairly large number of cats, so it's normal and very much age-related (as opposed to the rash of acute renal failure that's been in the news. Fortunately, his and Fiona's food was not on the list, though the one that Hill's recalled was just one letter away from theirs. Scary.) Another one is a fairly pronounced heart murmur, indicating at least one valve that's wearing out. And his bone-marrow is not doing a very good job of making red blood cells, which probably is a symptom of some kind of leukemia or lymphoma. Again, all pretty usual for a cat of his age. So, we're doing comfort care; fluids a couple times a week to take the strain off the kidneys, and (when it comes in) a heart drug that will lower the blood pressure and also take some pressure thusly off the kidneys.

From his point of view, the good thing about all of these is that generally, they don't hurt. And while he wasn't exactly *thrilled" when we stuck him with the needles today to get his fluids in, he took it with good grace (well, good enough that it all got into the cat.) And in case anyone's wondering, the rule with fluids and helpers is, "She who owns the cat wields the needle." (Besides, Matt doesn't DO needles, so kudos to him for holding the cat while a needle was nearby. On the other hand, it's only an inch long. Not like the freaky foot-long horror-movie kind! Once inserted in the cat, you really can't see it, though I'm sure Matt knew intensely that it was there.)

It's nice to be able to actually do something to ease him; and it's nice to have a chance to say goodbye and give him extra cuddles. It could be months; it could actually be a few years (though personally, I think the fact that there's more going on than kidney failure makes the longer time less likely. Then again, he's always been an exquisitely *stubborn* fellow.)

I told Laura about it right away, and she made the connection right away: "Like Merlin?" So at least she knows to give him extra lovin', too, and it won't come as a shock when he goes. Matt, taking the role of the optimist this time, pointed out that it's probably easier to have her see the whole process this way, so she'll understand when one of the many older people she's fond of goes to that big bubble bath in the sky. (What? You don't think heaven is a bubble bath? Clearly, you're not doing it right!)

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