Thursday, October 29, 2009

RequiesCat for Akasha

Akasha in Redlands, California
July 3, 2009

Today was a very painful day. I took Akasha, my feline companion, to the vet to be euthanized. Since early last week, she had been very low energy and was not moving much. She spent most of her time laying on her mat in the kitchen and occasionally moved in and laid by her water dish in my bedroom. She also occasionally would get up on the bed, but with great difficulty. She was not eating much, and when she did, only ate a few bites at a time.

By the end of last week, I noticed that she was not having regular bowel movements. I noticed Sunday evening and Monday morning that she was trying to, but was unable to produce results. Monday morning I took her to the vet. The doctor’s preliminary diagnosis was kidney failure, and he ran some blood tests. I talked to him Tuesday and he said that the lab results are suggestive of kidney failure, although they are still functioning – not unusual for a cat of her age (17). She was suffering from anemia and had an elevated white cell count, indicative of some sort of non-specific inflammation (could be cancer or any number of other things). In short, there was a lot going on but nothing conclusive.

The vet said that all we could really do would be to subject her to all sorts of treatments in hopes of clearing up some of the problems, but there were no clear answers. Given her age, and not wanting to subject her to the trauma of continuous medical procedures with no certainty of any significant improvement in her health, we decided to do nothing of the sort. I told him Monday that I don’t want any heroic efforts. After talking it through with him, we were in agreement that the best thing to do under the circumstances, the most compassionate thing for her and for me, would be to let her go.

Since I did not want to just drop her off at the vet and have her spend her last moments of life alone, I opted to be with her when she is euthanized. The earliest I could get an appointment to do that was Wednesday. However, since I had a packed schedule, I would have had to clear my calendar to do it, and since there was no immediate urgency, I made an appointment for Thursday morning. That way, I would have a little more time with her, and I then take the rest of Thursday off, knowing I would be in no condition to work. Then I would have Friday (usual day off) to pull myself together.

This was a very difficult decision for me. I didn’t want to let her go, but know it is the best thing for both of us and was as prepared for it as I can possibly be. She was obviously uncomfortable and may well have been experiencing some pain. And I hated seeing her like this. I just couldn’t let her linger too much longer.

Last night, Akasha spent most of the night on my bed, lying up near my head – very unusual for her. She usually slept farther down on the bed. It was almost as if she wanted to be near me, that she knew something was up. This morning, I got up as usual and spent the last few hours before going to the vet with her. Before we left, I fed her a little bit of turkey – her favorite.

I got to the vet just before 9:40, the time of my appointment. When I arrived, my parents were already there, having driven over from Riverside to be with me. When I got into the exam room, the vet said she was going to give Akasha some “happy juice” to calm her down before the actual shot to put her down. I asked Dr. Blanchard if she could get something for the father, too. She said she is not allowed to treat priests. A couple minutes later, Dr. Blanchard came back and gave Akasha a shot of tranquilizer. Akasha calmed down, but after a couple minutes, started becoming agitated. Dr. Blanchard said that she thought she gave her enough given the fact that she was so scrawny, but apparently she needed more. So, she gave her another shot. Akasha calmed down again and we spent out last few minutes together, with me trying to comfort her and letting her know how much I love her.

After a few more minutes, Dr. Blanchard came back into the room and gave Akasha the final shot. She went peacefully and quietly, nestled in my arms. I spent a few more minutes with her before saying my final good-bye. Although she was gone and looked so peaceful, in death she looked so much more like her previous self.

When I left the room, I ran into Dr. Blanchard. We talked for a few minutes and she said that she hoped I would remember them when I was ready to get another cat. She said they occasionally have cats that they rescue or that people drop off. We talked about some of the cats they currently have. Then we went back to look at them. I think it was helpful to see some live cats. There were two there, just little guys, that were so adorable. I would love to have them, but know that I will need some time before getting any new companions.

After leaving the vet, the folks and I went back to my house and we talked a little bit before they left. It was a little strange coming home to an empty house. There have been a few times when she has been away, like at my parents’ house while I was on vacation. But to come home to an empty house and know that Akasha no longer lived here was kind of strange. The first time in 17 years that I have been truly alone in my own house.

After the folks left, I spent the rest of the day cleaning the house – cleaning out the litter boxes and food and water dishes, cleaning the hardwood floors, and mopping the kitchen and laundry room. All during the cleaning I was fine and at peace. Only afterwards did I occasionally have moments of breaking into tears and really missing Akasha. It’s the little things that remind me of her. Like going into the kitchen and having a clear spot under the window where her food and water dish used to be. Or going into the laundry room and having an empty spot where her litter box used to be. I know that it will take awhile to get over the pain and get used to not having Akasha around.

Akasha had a good life. She was born on May 2, 1992 in Grand Terrace, California. In September of that year, she and her brother Lestat joined the Fincher family. During her life, Akasha traveled to various parts of California, Illinois, and points in between. During her life, she lived in Highland, California; Riverside, California; Evanston, Illinois; Los Angeles, California; and Redlands, California. She even completed three years of seminary. She was a great and loving companions. She was preceded in death by Lestat (who died July 12, 2007), and is survived by her loving human companion, who will miss her greatly.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A very fine tribute to your family member of 17 years. I feel the pain all over again. After all these years, it never gets easier. I too hate the empty food bowl that reminds me of my loss. And I am sooo sorry for the "happy shot" that agitated her, even for a little while. I wish you peace Father and I am sorry that I am not allowed to treat priests!

Kathy Blanchard, DVM