Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Poor Mr. Penny

Here’s how my animals were keeping me company while I worked from home last week:

They are best buddies. They grew up together and although it took them about a year to REALLY become friends, now you can clearly see that they are cuddle bugs. Oh sure, sometimes Mr. Penny (the cat) tries to start shit with Chloë (the dog) but overall they are good.

The sad news is that Mr. Penny has lost 3 pounds in the past year. He has gone from 15 to 12 pounds, which is 20% of his weight (now why can’t *I* do that – without getting sick?).

The vet did blood work on him a couple of weeks ago and it came out all funky. I had taken him in because (a) he was due for some shots and what-not and (b) even though the guy has TWO litter boxes that I clean out twice daily, he kept having diarrhea all over the concrete floor of the storage area of my basement. Now at least it was just the storage area, but it’s disgusting and now there are poop stains all over my floor. On Friday night, it literally took me an ENTIRE ROLL – a brand new role, mind you – of paper towels to clean up his mess because it’s just mush.

Penny has been on steroids for two weeks straight and has been taking them twice a day with ZERO effect.

Do you know how fun it is to give a cat a pill? Yeah. “Try wrapping it in slightly melted cheese” I heard. Well fuck that, I just shove it in his mouth and then wait for him to spit it out and then shove it in again and hold his mouth closed until I’m sure he’s swallowed it. Yes, this is actually easier than trying to disguise it – he’s too smart for that! (disguising it in wet food didn’t work either, which he’s not supposed to have due to his diarrhea). [PS I spell that word wrong every time]

Anyway, the vet told me a couple of weeks ago that my cat likely has cancer. But I didn’t want to do the diagnostic testing (x-rays/ultrasound, etc.) because I am not going to treat a 13 year old cat for cancer (he’s 13 in August). They said it’s either cancer or possibly Inflammatory Bowel Disease(IBD).  

BTW, Penny’s poop was tested for bacteria and there was none. There were also no problems with his liver or kidneys or thyroid and he does not have diabetes.

When we first got the medicine two weeks ago, I mentioned to Sophie that we were going to try this but that Penny could have cancer and that there was no guarantee the medicine would work. She looked sad and pensive about it but didn’t ask any questions. Later I kind of stressed the “we don’t know if this will work” part and she held up her hand and said, “I know what you’re saying, Mom. I get it. I just don’t want to talk about it anymore.”

Meanwhile, Chloë has arthritis and well it’s a long story that I’m out of time to tell but at one point we thought she might have to have surgery again like she did back in 2008 (at almost this exact time of year)  (And by ‘at one point’ I mean early yesterday) but thankfully she doesn’t; her arthritis isn’t even that severe and the doc said she wouldn’t have even guessed Chloë is 11 ½ and she’s at a really healthy weight, esp. for a Beagle.

But anyway, that’s why I was at the vet’s yesterday – for Chloe. And then I asked the vet about Mr. Penny. My vet office has three vets and the lady I saw is my favorite one. I’m going to ask for her every time. The guy vet talks and talks and talks and omig. The other lady is fine, but this one is my favorite. She pulled Penny’s chart and she said that yes definitely the steroids should have been working by now and things should have been improving. She said because of this – because he’s shown ZERO improvement with a change of food + meds (he has 2 other kinds in addition to the steroids) – that she is leaning toward a diagnosis of cancer. Of course the only way to tell for sure is to take a piece of his intestine and have it biopsied and uh no thank you and she said, “I don’t blame you.” So we talked about putting him down and wow, I was just so grateful this doc took all of this time to talk about my OTHER pet for whom the appointment wasn’t even for, and I didn’t feel rushed or anything.

I asked the vet if Penny was in pain and she was kind of like, “Well…if you were having explosive diarrhea at least twice a day, how would you feel?” But she said it real gentle-like, not “you’re an idiot for asking.”

So anyway, I pick up Soph from school and I say, “I have good news about Chloe and bad news about Penny.”
Sophie: What’s the bad news?
Oh so she’s one of those – wanting the bad news first type of person, I thought to myself. i.e. Mini-me.
So I told her that Penny probably has cancer and the medicine we’ve been giving him for the past two weeks isn’t working and unfortunately there’s nothing more they can do for him.
And she got quiet and sad and then asked me about Chloe and I shared the good news.
When we walked in the door, Sophie asked, “Can I still pet Penny?” I told her of course she could.

So…here we are. My ONE wish for 2013 was for nobody I love to fall ill. And I know Penny is “just” a cat [she says to non-cat people] but they are part of my family and I’m mostly concerned for Sophie and also I’m sad that Chloe will go through a mourning period as well.

The vet did explain how the whole thing went down – that it’s very peaceful and that we could be there or not be there but basically they give Penny anesthesia through an IV in his arm and then he is sleeping, legitimately, and then they basically give him another dose – an overdose – to pass him on:( I’m guessing Sophie will not want to be there, but I’m not sure. I guess I will just tell her that we don’t want Penny to suffer any more or be in pain and that he lived a good long life and we will never forget him and at least he had one more Christmas under the tree and that he will go to Heaven and have friends to play with up there and will spend his days cuddled and purring in an angel’s lap.

(I guess. How the hell do I know, right? It sounds comforting though, doesn’t it?)

If you have any other tips on helping young children deal with an animal’s death, I’m all ears.

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