Today, I had to make one of the toughest decisions any animal lover had to make. Or rather, I had to make the drive to the vet’s office, knowing in my heart, that for this one, sweet, cat, it would be her last trip.
Loki joined our family in 2009, not long after we had lost another cat, Anastasia. I was not really planning to get another cat, but as I looked at the cats in cages at Petsmart in Newbury Park, this little, fluffy, black ball of fur demanded my attention and began to tell me her life story as loudly and insistently as she could. As I’m a sucker for a meow story, she had me at “meow!”
Loki was three years old when she joined our family, having been rescued from a hoarder by the rescue group from which we got her. She had learned that if you wanted food, attention or anything else, the prize went to the loudest and pushiest, and she learned her lesson well.
Soon after she joined our household, she learned everyone’s bad habits and made them her very own, hence the name, Loki, who was the Norse god of mischief.
She could be counted on to be the first at the food dish, the first to stand on top of me when I opened my eyes in the morning, the first to greet me at the door, and the first to use the sandbox after I’d emptied, cleaned and refilled it.
She was forever in my face when I was trying to eat, work, sleep, or anything else, and would poke her head around the shower curtain while I showered.
Not long after we got her, she went into renal failure, and it was touch and go for awhile. She finally got back to normal, and the vet I’d been using at the time did not see fit to tell me that this wasn’t a one-time thing due to a massive infection. It was going to be a way of life for Loki, who’d started her life in less than optimal conditions.
For the last 4 years, we’ve seen her through many bladder and kidney infections, put her on and taken her off of medications, been through three vets plus a specialist and, at the last, were giving her subcutaneous fluids daily, phosphate blockers and potassium twice a day, pepcid once a day and an appetite stimulant every 3 days. We even gave her shots of Darbepuetin in the last month or so to help stimulate red blood cells since the kidneys were no longer telling the bone marrow to do their job.
But in the end, it was giving her some more time to embed herself in our hearts, but merely prolonged the inevitable.
Yesterday, I had a sudden premonition that I was going to come home and find she’d passed, so I was immensely relieved to find her still doing as ok as she’s been doing lately when I got home. Yes, she’d peed on the floor and seemed to be getting weaker. She had been a little wobbly for a couple of days. Yes, she was starting to give me fits about eating, though she was still drinking water and taking a few treats.
But she still wanted to snuggle on the bed with me, though she no longer came out to the living room for snuggles. She was still chattering at me, though more and more, it was a weaker chatter.
But today, I put her in the bathroom as I normally do with her bowl of food, so her brothers and sisters won’t steal it. I also added a bowl of water in case she decided to stay there for awhile. It wasn’t long before I heard her meowing to come out, but I had to try to get her to stay in there and eat something.
Suddenly, the meowing stopped, and I went in to check on her. I found her lying against the door and not moving when I pushed the door open, except as the door moved her. She’d urinated where she lay and was fairly limp…and my heart dropped to the floor. Changing directions quickly, I called the vet and got an appointment, put her in a carrier and got myself together.
Arriving at the vet about 20 minutes early, I petted her inside her carrier until we were called. After she was weighed, I held her in my arms, sitting in the chair in the examining room, waiting another 20 minutes or so for the vet (which, this time, was just fine with me!). Holding her with her head next to my heart, knowing she was done, I still tried to hope. She snuggled into me, almost as if she was the one comforting me, and totally out of character. She was not one who liked to be held down!
At last, the vet came in and we spoke for a little bit. She started to examine Loki and we continued discussing whether it was time to let her go. Finally, Loki just took matters into her own paws and started having a seizure. According to the vet, this is an indication that the kidneys are shutting down and there is really nothing left to do.
Even knowing ahead of time that she was not going to make it through the weekend did not make it any easier to say goodbye, and the other cats and I have spent the day, grieving in our own particular ways. Some came and snuggled with me, others needed to just be alone or with the one they were closest to.
Loki’s time was short and her time as part of my family, even shorter, but I know she chose me because she knew I’d do the best I could for her. She will always have a place in my heart and is one of the many cats I’ve had the pleasure of being staff to, who has left an indelible paw print. Losing her is harder than some, easier than others, but no less painful than any.
I know that somewhere down the line, Loki and I will meet again, and I only hope that I truly did the very best I could have done for her, because sometimes, I have my doubts. Leaving her in the bathroom when she crashed like that will forever haunt me. I don’t remember her cry sounding any more upset or distressed than usual when I’d leave her in there to have time to eat, but maybe it was and I wasn’t paying close enough attention. Dylan and Toby were haunting the doorway, and just before I went in to check on her, Dylan had been poking at her under the door. They knew before I did that the time had come.
I’m not alone in how strongly, deeply I get attached to my furry children. I will always question whether I did enough for them, paid them enough attention, fed them the best foods and all. But I will never doubt that every single one of them received my love.
The ladies in my A.R.T. class made a beautiful candle for Loki and sent me a picture today. I don’t have words, but here is a picture of their beautiful gift. I had to miss today’s class because I knew that my energy would not be good for everyone else, and I needed to be here for my grief, but also for that of my remaining furry children. I love them for understanding and for caring.
So many of my friends are animal people (I guess that’s really no surprise!) and the outpouring of love and support I’ve received today is incredibly heart warming. I have no words to express my appreciation.
Without them, this would me a much harder path for me to walk.
In the process of coping with Loki’s loss, I’ve lost the momentum I had to finish the 50,000 word challenge, but I won’t minimize her value by failing to fulfill my promise to myself. She wouldn’t want me to just stop living after all she did to keep living.
But I also realize that the Universe continues to work in it’s own, strange ways. Loki’s care took a lot of time and increasingly more money. I spent a lot of time worrying about her, trying to coax her to eat, pushing meds down her throat and running her back and forth to the vet. I believe the Universe put two things together this time. Loki was allowed to stop having to work so hard to live and even then, with probably more pain than I ever knew, and I am now given the time to not only pay more attention to my other cats, but to fulfill the obligations I’ve made to myself. Even those things which cause us pain happen for a reason.
Farewell, sweet Loki…until we meet again.
My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for all of the love and support I’m receiving.
2. I am grateful for the time Loki gave me, letting me know that she was ready to go.
3. I am grateful for the other cats with whom I am sharing my grief.
4. I am grateful for time alone to pull myself back together.
5. I am grateful to have had Loki in my life, no matter how briefly.
Love and light.