Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Heart Hurts

Today I made the tough decision to have an old friend put down. Myles was a 13 year old orange tabby. I got him when he was just six or seven weeks old and can still remember how bummed I was that I had to lock him out of my room that first night because he kept trying to bite my chin.

Myles was a chin chewer and never got over it. But other than that, he was a great cat. He was gregarious, interesting, tolerant of the children and rarely made a mess.

He was an indoor cat for the first 7 years of his life, but when we moved onto some acreage, I began to let him out. He thrived. Then he started to lose weight. I thought it was the extra exercise, until a vet check-up last summer revealed that he had hyperthyroidism.

The vet made the diagnosis like it was no big deal. He prescribed a month of medicine and said we'd check him out after that. And it wouldn't have been a big deal if Myles hadn't been allergic to the medicine. After a week on the drug, he started scratching himself then had a full blown anaphylactic reaction that landed us at the emergency vet.

So it was back to our vet the following Monday where we were told that Myles would need surgery to reduce the size of his thyroid. The surgery would cost about $2000 and would have to be done in Atlanta. I think it was that point that I realized Myles' days were limited.

We spent the next months indulging him with canned food, pieces of cheese and other treats. Still, he was getting progressively worse. He had been reduced from a robust 15 pounds to literally skin and bones. To try and soften the inevitable blow for the kids we got Trevor. A feline friend seemed to breathe some new life into Myles. At least for a while.

Over the last couple months, Myles morphed into the ultimate scavenger. No crumb or half-eaten sandwich was safe from him. When he wasn't savaging, he was screaming for food in front of the refrigerator. The constantly empty water bowl and full cat box clued me in that his kidneys were going too.

I think this is probably the saddest part to me. His behavior had become so irritating that it was becoming hard to love him. Not that he wanted love. If you tried to pet him, he'd run to the fridge and start yelling again. I was finding it hard not to be mad at him for knocking over the butter dish and eating the butter or tearing open a bag of biscuits left on the counter. Rationally, I knew it was desperation that was driving him to this, but I still found myself getting angry at him.

Last night as I was tucking the kids in bed, Myles decided that he was not able to make it to his box and relieved himself on my son's sleeping bag right in front of us. That was the final straw for me. I explained to my kids that Myles was going to have be taken to the vet in the morning to be put to sleep. They protested some but much less than I had expected.

We took Myles to the vet today and said our goodbyes. The doctor asked if we would like to be with him and if we would like to take his body home. I declined on both accounts. All in all, I am taking this much worse than the children who were ready for snacks and park day as soon as we got back in the car.

I can't help but doubt myself whether or not I did the right thing for him. Whether he would have been better living out his last weeks or even months or if I saved him from more suffering as his body slowly starved him to death. Should I have even popped for that surgery last fall. I suppose it is too late to second guess any of it now.

God bless you, Myles. I love you and I hope the angels aren't as stingy with the cheese slices as I was.


  1. I am so sorry! Myles was a great cat. I remember how tiny he and Riley were when we got them. Hard to believe that was 13 years ago! Myles we will always remember you!

  2. .....and "kitty heaven", believe it or not, does exist. Myles may decide to nibble your chin again in the future. It's okay. It means he has life after death, and that he loves you still. When that nibble happens, remember, as he does, that you and your family loved him and he loved you back.

    Meanwhile, I cannot adequately express how sincerely sad I am that you had to make that decision. There is nothing like a loved pet whose life is ending. How much love we pump into that is the point. You did it right.

  3. Myles may you RIP in Kitty Heaven. You were a very special little guy and we all loved you.

  4. Kristin--it was the most unselfish act of love you did for Myles to stop his suffering. Let him go and let your guilt and doubts go too.