I am crying right now because I just completed a note to my dad. Last year, after D-Day (death day – one year ago today), I addressed two notes – one to my dad and one to my mom. I wanted to write them “thank you” notes for my Rags.
But, I didn’t get them done. I hauled them around with me for a year – I even took them down to Albuquerque (went there for six weeks last summer), but still didn’t get them done.
For those of you who don’t know…when I expressed interest in having a Ragdoll cat at the age of 7, my mother and father told me that my father was allergic to cats. This was total crap, however. My dad actually couldn’t stand cats and told my mom that he didn’t want one in his home.
Man, how times have changed! But, my mom heard me beg over and over again for a Ragdoll. My Aunt Nicky had an incredible Ragdoll – one of the most gorgeous kitties I have ever seen – named, Halston – and I always wanted to go to Aunt Nicky’s house to see Halston. He was the coolest cat. You could go up to him, put your cheek next to his face and ask him for a kiss. He would lick you, just like a dog! I thought it was so funny though because his tongue felt so weird (like sandpaper, as we all know).
I really cannot believe that he is gone. I wanted to write about his dying process today. I think it will help me release more of it and also help those of you who haven’t experienced renal failure. I also would have appreciated reading something like this when Rags was going through this because I really wanted to know more.
Of course, every kitty’s renal failure is different. I was warned that Rags didn’t have too much time left in December 2008. Actually, I think it was December 23rd or 22nd, and my Christmas gift was being told that Rags had about 2 weeks MAX to live. Man, that was awesome. NOT.
Since you know he died on March 30, you know that he lived a lot longer than 2 weeks, but GOOD GOD was I scared. I never knew I could cry so much. I took many photos of him because I knew I didn’t have much time left.
I was ashamed to share them at this time last year because he was losing that beautiful sparkle in his eyes, and I knew it and didn’t want to share it. But now I realize it was what it was.
So about 3 years ago this August, I quit my full time job and started to work from home. I tried to sell some multi-level marketing crap, and soon realized it wasn’t the thing to do. I moved on to a website about fruit, but found my true passion with this site. I also was trying to make a huge decision about my Graves Disease – whether or not to remove my thyroid or do radioactive iodine. Neither one, I wanted to do. My generous father offered to support me financially while I tried to work out my issues with the disease and while I was getting myself on my feet for my new websites.
Therefore, I had the INCREDIBLE FORTUNE to be at home with Rags day in and day out. I would have definitely lost my job if I had had one when Rags was dying – as I would have called in sick every day.
I was a total and complete mess during that time. I am a very neat and clean person and my house looked like a bomb went off. My days were consumed with Rags and that’s all I wanted them to be consumed with. The only half healthy thing I did was workout three times a week. When I got home, I would go and find my little buddy (usually in the basement – his sleeping spots changed on almost a 2-week basis – my aunt had warned me that when animals get close to dying that they sleep in the most unusual spots and change them) and take him outside. He loved breathing the fresh air and soaking up the rays of sunshine…and I cherished watching him.
I found in the weirdest places – inside a mop bucket that was full with clean rags for cleaning. Also found him behind my desk and inside cabinets. It was scary too (when I couldn’t find him) as I thought I would find him dead. I am not sure which would be worse, finding him dead or having to put him down. I think they are both equally horrible in their own ways. Towards the end – the last month or so, Rags had a kitty crack house in my storage closet in my office downstairs. As you can tell, I had a litter box on either side of him and food elevated by books. He didn’t want to move from his bed that much, so I just made him as comfortable as possible. The last few days, he didn’t make it to his litter box – hence the towels to protect the carpet.
I knew there were days when he wasn’t up for going outside, but I believe my encouragement made him live as long as he did. I didn’t ask him to hold on. I told him I would be ready when he was ready, but he knew I wasn’t and that’s why he waited. And man, he waited. I talked to an animal communicator, Linda Trent, during the entire 3 month extravaganza, and he told her that it pissed him off that the vet told me that he had two weeks to live because he was in charge of when he wanted to die, not her. Gotta love cats!
We took Rags on walks and I held him as much as I could. Rags had told Linda that he enjoyed the outdoors and appreciated me taking him outside and liked that I stayed outside with him, as he wasn’t sure if he would have the stamina to fight anything off (Rags only spent one night outside his entire life – so I am not sure where that came from). I did stay close to him though and allowed him to take his time to cruise around the yard. He usually walked the perimeter and then wanted to come back inside.
Cruising around the perimeter helped him pass his bowels too. I had to give him fluids (50 cc twice a day) and also an enema about every 3-4 days depending on if he had gone #2 himself. I realize that most people wouldn’t have done this, but he showed a will to live and I couldn’t put him down when he still showed that will.
He ate a combination of baby food and wet food. I didn’t want him having any more dry food because he was in renal failure, so his kidneys were drying up and I didn’t want them to dry up any more.
I asked Linda if he was in pain. I asked this often. I probably spoke to Linda about every 10 days. He always told her that he was weak, but not in pain. I believed it. I believed it because he never looked like he was in pain. Had he been in pain, I would have put him down.
One of his weird sleeping patterns was that he wanted to be between me and my computer. He would sit at my feet (photo above) and want to be lifted up and sit between me and the keyboard. My computer and desk are in my basement, and in fact, he stopped sleeping with me altogether. When I asked Linda why he was doing this, he told her that he didn’t want to die in my room. He thought that would be a bad memory for me. I hated it. I hated it that he wouldn’t sleep with me anymore….but I tell you what, it certainly helped when I went to bed on March 30th. He hadn’t slept with me for two months, so I had become used to it.
In the last few days that Rags was alive, his back legs stopped working. He couldn’t hold himself up on his back legs and when he couldn’t do it with his front legs, I knew it was time.
It was a Sunday and I wasn’t expecting it, so I hadn’t planned and besides, who wants to plan for that! I wanted Dr. Gloor of the KC Cat Clinic to put him down because I knew he respected her and I liked her as well. She has similar feelings/thoughts about death and reincarnation as I do, so it helped me get through it.
I must have called every Gloor in the phone book that day. None of them were her (I found out later that Gloor is her maiden name and she is listed under her husband’s name in the phone book). So I decided that because I couldn’t get a hold of her, that it was a sign that it wasn’t the day.
So I knew I would do it on Monday. Ugh. The rest of that day on Sunday was so freakin’ horrible. I cried and cried and told him how much I loved him and thanked him for all the extra time he gave me to say good-bye. That night before we took him on a walk at midnight and he just let out these pathetic little meows. I don’t know if they were thank yous or if he was hurting, but it felt okay to take him on a walk.
I think I finally fell asleep at 4am. I had asked Bill (my boyfriend, who I live with) to call KC Cat Clinic promptly at 8am and tell them what was going on and that I wanted Dr. Gloor to do it. Of course, she wasn’t due in that day until 10:30am, so they called her at home and she said she’d come in at 9:00am.
So about 8:30am, I grabbed Rags and wrapped him in a towel. Bill drove us to my parents’ house where we got into my dad’s car (unfortunately, my mom was out of town and really, really upset she wasn’t there) and my dad, Bill and I drove to KC Cat Clinic. I asked my dad to drive by the house I grew up in (and that Rags grew up in) and Raggies had soft, sweet little meows and smelled the air the whole way there (I had the window down).
When we got there, we found out that Dr. Gloor’s car had gotten a flat tire, so the receptionist was leaving to get her. It SUCKED holding him in the waiting room waiting to put him down. Oh my god, that was horrible!
Dr. Gloor finally arrived and we went into a room. I asked her what the process was and how he would react physically. They first give him a pain reliever and then the “death juice” as I like to call it. I was scared to see him dead. I didn’t want to. I asked her if I should hold him or if I should put him on the table. My brother had reminded me of how he held one of our dogs and how her head went all limp once she was dead and that made me sick, so I decided I would put him on the table and see if he was okay with that. He appeared to be fine with it, so I pet him while they put in the pain reliever.
They left the room while we said our goodbyes (which I had said to him over and over again for 3 months), and then they (Dr. Gloor and technician) came back in with the “death juice”. Ugh. I asked her to please wait to insert it into his vein, as I wanted to give him three kisses (one for me, one for my mom and one for my sister Amy – who was with my mom!). I told my dad and Bill (who were in the room that I would give him the three kisses and then would leave the room). My dad was crying and asked me what I wanted him to do, and I told him that he was welcomed to do whatever he needed to do to say goodbye and that I would meet him outside.
So, I gave him the kisses (the pain reliever made him act like he was in a deep sleep and his breathing was very shallow at that point) and left the room, walked outside and called my mom to tell her that he was gone.
Crazy enough, I had a really good day that day. It was a relief to know he wasn’t fighting anymore. It was a relief to know that he had gone to what I think was a place where he felt good again. I was also relieved. It is a lot of work day in and day out to give a little kitty fluids, enemas and be worried about him all of the time.
I also had the good fortune of taking Caymus and Murphy back to my house for a week. My mom said that I could have them for a week after Rags passed. Good gracious! I was sooo thankful for them. They knew I was sad and provided great company. Because they were young and healthy, it also reminded me of how sick and weak Raggies was. And, well, as you all know, Caymus is my favorite living Ragdoll, so I will always welcome any time I get with him.
I still think of my Raggies every single day. I will carry him in my heart forever. Thanks for letting me talk about his last few months, days and hours.
Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,