Long or Short, Goodbyes Suck. Always.

I hate that I’m doing this again. I really, really hate it.

Had to get that off my chest. Now, for your context: This is yet another post where I have to tell you about how one of my cats is dying, and it’s going to be long and gruesome. Again.

A whole host of you, bless you all, are going oh no, because you remember the last hellacious Cat Death Cycle of 2011-2, where we put down one cat for vaccine-site sarcoma, one for multiple myoloma (I’m spelling shit wrong, typing without glasses because onions in the room, font blown up to ten thousand, apologies in advance) a few months later, and then out of nowhere another for lung cancer just a few months after that. This isn’t new, this game of Cullinan cat death. I just,  you know, thought I’d get more than two years off.

This time it’s Sidney. This special little fella.



He’s our polydactyl cat, who can open cupboards with a single thumb. He terrorized Blair, the first cat to succumb to the last round of die-off, and then was terrorized by the new black kitten, Daisy, as karmic payback. He’s our “BDSM kitty” who loves to be spanked. He loves my lap and a good heat vent.

He has hypo(er?)thyroid, a heart murmur, and kidney failure.

If he had just ONE of those, or just the thyroid/heart  or the kidney, we could do it. We could give fluids and meds for the kidney or do this radio blasting thing for the thyroid. The radiation is expensive, and while we thought it was just that I had this whole scheme cooked up where I’d write a gay romance cat novella, give it away, and collect donations, and whatever was bonus I’d give to local shelters or some fantastic cat thing. I was all ready to go. I’d be ready for ANY of it, because I’m all about never say die, let’s do this.

But the thyroid treatments/meds can’t be done with kidney failure, so that will get worse, and the kidney thing is manageable but not when you have the heart murmur ready to kick out a clot which will kill him quickly and painfully. We’re going to do treatment, but we’re looking at anywhere from tomorrow he’s gone until a year or so. It’s just a matter of when and what gets him.

So he’s hungry–starving, and he can’t get enough to eat because of the thyroid, and I can’t fix it. His kidneys are failing, and we can help that, but not stop it. We can make him comfortable, pull some tricks. But basically once again we’re looking at a long goodbye. Or maybe a short one. It’s the roulette wheel of death for us here. Just a matter of when we hit black.

That’s it, really. I’m shamelessly using my blog to say this sucks and I’m sad. I bought a bunch of comfort food from the grocery store and all I want to do is drink the cider I bought. And I’m in here being sad because it’s an easy way to tell a whole bunch of people at once and to cry in my office instead of in front of my kid. Who has gotten really good at saying goodbye to cats too, much better than she should.

I’m going to say this one part out loud because it’s dumb but part of me will still believe it anyway. I have this superstition that my cats keep dying on me because they’re leeching off my weird health nonsense in some mystical-Bast energetic way, and that’s why they get sick and die. I have nothing to back this up except an overactive imagination and the fact that they always hang out on me or near me. So I feel like it’s my fault, which is even more dumb, but there it is. Nope, saying it out loud doesn’t make me believe it any less. I totally believe they would pull that shit.

Worst, though, worse even than that is that Sidney in my secret heart has always been my replacement Gulliver. My first cat, my pal through post-college nightmare, my first apartment, through dating Dan–to Gulliver’s death he was annoyed with Dan and kept waiting for him to leave–Gulliver died unexpected at seven of the same death Sidney’s likely to have, a throboembelism. (Can’t spell that either, still no glasses, not trying.) He looks just like him, and he kind of…well, feels like him. Different but similar. I always felt like Gulliver came back to me in Sidney. And wouldn’t the irony have it, but Sidney is either seven or eight, depending on how old he was when he came to us.

So now I get to feed him whenever he wants to be fed, but it won’t be enough. I get to hold him and turn up the heat too high so he has all the heat vent he wants, but it won’t be enough. We get to give him fluids and phosphorous binders and drugs, but we’re buying time. When we leave town, he’ll have to be boarded, and every time we leave the house, we might come home to him dying of a thrown clot.

I hate it. I hate that I was all ready to do whatever it takes to save him, and I can’t. I hate that I have to watch him be hungry and sick. That I have to do this again. That it’s this cat, this way. I hate all of it. I can’t even be elegant. So I’m going to sit here and cry a minute, and then go put on a good show for my kid, until I get to go to bed and he’ll curl up beside me, and I can sob until my nose and eyes swell shut, and then just get ready to do this again. A-fucking-gain.

Except I’ll just get another cat, again and again, until one (or four) of them outlive me. Because I’m married with kid, but I’m still a crazy cat lady.

And now I’ve made you all sad too. I’m sorry.

Really fucking sorry.

23 Comments on “Long or Short, Goodbyes Suck. Always.

  1. Hi Heidi,
    So many, many hugs, though I know they won’t make anything better.
    How far along is Sidney’s kidney failure? One of my cats has kidney issues and also hyperthyroid, and I was able to have her on methimazole (sorry, no idea if I’m spelling that right) and she’s done all right on it. (She also has arthritis, so she’s on buphrenorphine because it doesn’t stress her kidneys like Metacam does). I don’t know what you and your vet have gone over, but I wanted to mention it just in case, because I’d hate to have a stone unturned. Also, my vet had mentioned to me the possibility of surgery to remove the thyroid gland, though of course it would mean anesthesia. Is that possible for your Sidney, to get the thyroid under control?
    More hugs,

  2. You HAVE made me sad, Heidi… and cry as well. But I know all too intimately the terrible wrenching sorrow of losing a feline friend. People have chastised me for making “too much” of such a thing, for taking years to accustom myself to the vacuum of loss, and to them I say… deal with it. These are not mere interchangeable animal familiars… these are family. They’re loved ones, they are in some cases our children, our best friends, and our sole support system. My heart goes out to you and Dan and Anna… I know exactly how you feel. Please let us know how it proceeds with Sidney. I’m so sorry.

  3. Oh sheesh, I am so sorry. It’s awful. It sucks. It doesn’t seem fair that a being can come into your life and love you and cuddle you and be there for you and just by being alive make you happy and then die.

    I had Tommy. I was a young single mom and we adopted Tommy and after my son, he was the 2nd being I loved, completely and totally with all my heart. No one else except my kid and the cat ever wormed their way into my heart. And then he got sick really, really fast and there was nothing to do and he died and he left this huge gaping wound in my world. How could I have loved him so much? He was my animal soul mate, always will be. I know that there isn’t any possible way another animal could ever replace him.

    I am sending you hugs and love and warm fuzzies because it hurts.

  4. I’m so sorry, that just sucks. Our pets are part of our family and it sucks when their health starts to fail. *big hugs*

  5. I’m so sorry, Heidi. It’s absolutely unfair this is happening to your family again, and absolutely unfair to Sidney. I’ve been there and it never gets better, never gets easier. I’m hugging you from here.

  6. I am so sorry to hear this :(((( We’ve never had cats, we’ve always had dogs, but pets are part of our families. We had to put our dog to sleep back in April right before we moved back to the States, so what you’re going through is so fresh in my mind. My heart, thoughts, and prayers go out to all of you. <3333

  7. So so sad. So so terrible. So so sorry. I know how terrible it is. Thinking of you and thinking of Sid. He always reminded me a bit of Gulliver too.

  8. So sorry, Heidi! 😦 This hits me especially hard because he looks just like my Leela (right down to the extra toes) who disappeared two years ago last fall. It was heartbreaking–searching, and putting up signs, and getting phone calls about the wrong cat, and being handed hope that eventually dwindled away to sad memories, guilt, and fear of the worst possible scenario for my sweet girl . I hope you’re able to cherish whatever time you have left. I’m so sad for you, but just a little bit happy that you will get to say your goodbyes and give your extra kisses, treats, lap time, and all the things that I’m so torn up about having missed. My white cat, Sugy, died the summer after Leela. She was old and fat and had a good run, and I was so grateful we were able to sit by her side and keep her company, and later to put her in a special place in my garden. I hope your little guy defies the odds and has a happy time doing it! xoxo

  9. So many hugs – for you, for Dan, for the kiddo, and for Sidney, who couldn’t have found a better family if he’d drawn up a list and handed it to Bast herself. And it’s absolutely no comfort at all, I’m sure, but I have no doubt that you’ve given him a life of bliss, and will give him the most peaceful passing possible. Crying for you – More hugs…

  10. I’m so very sorry to hear this. 😦

    My old foster cat, Pip. had this combination of problems, but he was approx 14 years old when he came here and around 17 years old when he died last May. But he did have three relatively good years, even though his thyroid problem had been wildly out of control when he arrived and took months of juggled doses and blood tests to stabilize. I’m so sorry Sidney has so much at such a relatively young age.

    If it’s of any help at all Pip was on medication to treat all three conditions, albeit indirectly. I only know the UK names for the meds but this is what we had. Felimazole (Methimazole) for the thyroid condition, then Fortekor (possibly Benazepril or Lotensin) for renal failure (our vet said that although it wasn’t licensed for heart problems in cats, like it is for dogs, there had been some good results in trials, and anyway it was licensed for treatment of chronic renal insufficiency in cats) and then when his blood pressure became an issue he also had Amlodipine (Istin) for that. In the end it wasn’t any of these things specifically that got him. He developed a tumour on his liver and then it was just a matter of time. We decided enough was enough and made him as comfortable as possible. Tough old boy wouldn’t give up and I ended up having to play God and try to get the balance between too soon and too late just right. That’s the hardest bit for me. 😦

    I do know that sometimes the thyroid medication is ineffective, so if you are at that stage where the operation or the radio blasting are the only options I really don’t have anything else, except to say that I’m so very sorry you are having to go through this again.

  11. *all the hugs*

    If you want or need company, just let me know. I am more than happy to drink sympathy cider and spoil kitties (so long as I’m sufficiently drugged up first). ♥

  12. My Socrates lived to be 17, his thyroid stopped completely. I was able to keep him for 3 years, watching him drop from 12 to 5 pounds, always hungry, a pill every day. Finally, he slept away, but I don’t think I could ever do that again. I had to ask myself, “What was the quality of his life?” Was I being selfish in prolonging his life. After he passed, I felt guilty, that maybe I had kept him alive for me rather than for him. Still not sure I can answer the question truthfully.

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