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Mistress Marilyn's POV
No shit, Tempus Fugit!
Responsible pet ownership ~ 
5th-Jan-2009 11:36 pm
henry-sweet!
I feel pretty strongly about being responsible with the pets you own, making sure they have the basic necessities, obviously, and keeping them safe and comfortable. Sometimes it also means making difficult decisions about those pets, like when it's time to say goodbye.

Having pets isn't inexpensive. It costs for food, for hygiene and for medical care.

Ultimately it's up to the pet owner to assume the costs and the responsibilities.

This afternoon I sat with my sister and watched her struggle over medical decisions for her daughter's cat of 15 years, decisions that could have ended up costing several hundred dollars. She took the cat to the vet to be put to sleep, but the cat is not in extremis. He's still pretty healthy and peppy, although he's had an issue with vomiting for some time. And now he's started what the vet referred to as "inappropriate urination." He's spraying around the house, something we certainly dealt with over the years (and many cat owners experience).

It wasn't up to me to decide; I just wanted to be supportive. I offered to help pay for the tests the vet suggested. I knew those tests might eventually show he needed to be euthanized, despite his appearance. There's no way to know without having the tests. We did this for our beloved Indy several years ago, and hundreds of dollars later learned it would cost hundreds more to even attempt to keep him alive. He was already broken-hearted over the loss of his beloved companion who had finally lost her fight with disease a couple weeks earlier. He had chosen to stop eating and drinking. So we brought him home long enough to say goodbye before we had him put to sleep.

My sister has money issues. She doesn't have much discretionary income and what she does have is not used on the two cats in the household.

The vet gave her an interesting option, to sign the cat over to the hospital and let them take care of his medical needs and see if a nonprofit animal rescue group could get the 15-year-old cat adopted. I was amazed they would make the offer and go to that trouble considering how many cats are unwanted. But he did. He clearly did not want to euthanize a basically healthy cat.

So she signed him over. In retrospect, it was probably the best thing to do, although it's hard for me to imagine giving a cat to someone else after 15 years. I'm sure a lot of elderly and disadvantaged people have to give up their pets because they can no longer care for them. Craig's List is full of college students and re-locating professionals who have to find homes for their cats and dogs. I could offer to bury the cat in my back yard, but I couldn't take him home myself. My cats would make him even more miserable.

If she had put the cat to sleep, I would have stayed by her side. If she had decided to try to fix what was wrong and take him home, I would have tried to help with the finances. And I have to say she jumped at this third option when it was offered.

As I said above, ultimately the pet owner is the one who has to decide how much to do, how much to spend, how long to wait.

I hope Saxon (the kitty) doesn't suffer too much, whether he ends up in a cage for a while, ends up put to sleep or ends up in a new home. He'll never understand what's going on. And if he does 'recover' and find a new family, it might not make any difference to him. But it's a strange thing to experience, a whole new take on being a responsible pet owner.

I've had to make the hard decision to have my seriously ill cats put down. But I've never had to decide to give them away. That's something I'm not sure I could do.

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Comments 
6th-Jan-2009 12:14 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure I could do it, either. Really, I doubt I could but, as you say, it's up to each pet owner to make the decision that works for them. I've had to have a few pets euthanized; it's a gut-wrenching experience but somehow I think giving the animal away would be even harder.
8th-Jan-2009 07:08 am (UTC)
I agree. I just could not give a pet away, at least an older one who's set in his/her ways. It was a shocking thing to see.
6th-Jan-2009 03:55 pm (UTC)
Wow, Marilyn, I couldn't do it. After all that length of time I can't even image giving one of my babies away. I will do without in order to keep my 'fur children' alive. I form an intense bond with them; they become part of my soul. I love them profoundly and they love me back.

You must know from your own experience that cats can take a lot. If Saxon doesn't seem all that bad then it might be a treatable problem. I will 'always' make a great effort for my babies. Also when you do have to let them go you can say sincerely that you tried.

My little Shally Mae is a blue pt. Siamese who is one of the most sensitive cats I have ever known. She's highly intelligent but extremely shy around people. It would break her heart if I gave her away . . . I would never. And my sweet year old seal pt. Amber is also very intelligent and committed to me and my sis, where as Shally is older and only bonded to me. Of course I am their main focus in life, they both sleep with me.

Me and my sister would spend the money on any one of the precious souls we share our life with. Debbie moved in with two poodles, lol.
8th-Jan-2009 07:10 am (UTC)
I couldn't do it either. I was just shocked to see it happen.

As hard as it was to put out kitties down, at least we held them until the end . . .
6th-Jan-2009 04:38 pm (UTC)
you had a hard day

often being supportive, of a person is not that simple

yet it shows your character, to stand next to a person you love, have empathy, and know fully it is not up to you


love
t
8th-Jan-2009 07:11 am (UTC)
The hardest thing is to try to be supportive without being judgmental, to put aside approval or disapproval. That was the test.
6th-Jan-2009 06:33 pm (UTC)
Life isn't easy with pets. They become the children.
At age 15 (though I understand many live 20-25 years) the cat may mentally be suffering without showing much physical change. Usually the change in pattern indicates the 'dementia'--however it would be for a cat.
What a difficult decision.
I hope your sister and her daughter can focus on the 15 years of good life she provided for her cat and how thankful the cat must feel...not to mention the return of goodwill.
8th-Jan-2009 07:12 am (UTC)
It's true, the cat may be worse off than I could see. But it was fascinating to watch this young doctor grasping for ways to save him.

I'm not sure how they're doing now. I guess it will get easier and easier. I would never be able to stop worrying about the cat, which is not how you feel when you have to put one to sleep.
6th-Jan-2009 11:44 pm (UTC)
As someone who just spent a ridiculous amount of money (that I didn't have to spend) on a friend and family member that I had to put to sleep in the end anyway... I know that it is mind-numbingly hard to be reasonable about this issue. I'm sorry that she is having to go through this.
8th-Jan-2009 07:15 am (UTC)
You did everything you could do get the last days, the last hours, the last minutes with your beloved cat. The shocking thing for me was to watch her just sign the cat over, not knowing what would happen.

The fascinating thing was to watch the young vet trying to find options to save the cat. At first I thought he was trying to 'make money' on the thing, then I saw the opposite.

It's their choice. And hopefully they can be at peace with it.
8th-Jan-2009 04:28 pm (UTC)
I don't know how she did that. I can't even imagine what comfort that poor cat could possibly find in a strange new place, this late in life... Miss Fynn gets all upset if I just rearrange the furniture... let alone move to a whole new place!
9th-Jan-2009 02:41 am (UTC)
I have to cope with it by believing the cat is better off. Otherwise I'd feel tormented by imagining him afraid and alone in a frigging cage.
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