I’d scheduled my first post of the New Year to be about my goals; however, that can wait for another time.
I’ve talked before about the benefits of having pets, but I’m sorry to say that I’m now writing about the pain of losing them. Our beautiful cat, Charlie, fell acutely unwell on New Year’s Day and, having taken him to the emergency vet, we had to make the hard decision to let him go.
Charlie was a rescue cat I got just over 8 years’ ago. We weren’t sure of his age but we think he reached around 13-14 years of age. He blossomed from a grumpy kitty to a real softy who loved attention from people.
Charlie had been diagnosed with chronic kidney dysfunction in late-2015. He had high calcium levels in his blood which was damaging his kidneys and the vets did ongoing tests for over a year to try and find the cause of the high calcium. He’d had bits of his fur shaved off so that blood could be taken, x-rays and ultra-sound scans, but they could find no cause. They ran out of tests to run and after months of anxiety about his health I said “let’s keep him on his kidney medication and just keep him as comfortable as possible”. I wanted his remaining time to be one of comfort, not wires and needles.
Charlie had improved over recent months and even gained back some of the weight he’d lost. He had the sniffles a couple of weeks ago and we took him to the vets who gave him some antibiotics. We’d noticed he’d been a bit wobbly on his feet at times; the vet gave him a check over and everything seemed okay.
New Year’s Day
New Year’s Day, I came downstairs and gave Charlie his medicine and his food as usual. It was only when Charlie walked away from his bowl that he fell over and couldn’t hold himself upright. I held him and could feel his heart was beating excessively fast. We took him to the emergency vets and had to make a decision; more tests and maybe a referral to a cardiologist, or let him go. The vet said his condition was serious. I knew then that it was time; if I’d hung on for more tests I’d have only put Charlie through more discomfort which could have turned into pain.
I’ve never had to make such a decision before as Charlie was the first pet I owned. I’d always imagined that Charlie would decline slowly and that I’d have more time to accept the inevitable; I didn’t expect it all to happen so quickly. I guess in reality Charlie was declining and had been since late-2015, but as the vet said “cats hide it well”.
The drive back from the vets was surreal; I’m surprised I managed to operate the car. I couldn’t believe we were returning home without our beautiful boy.
The here and now
My husband and I are still numb; it’s still so raw. We don’t like being in the house, and yet we do because that’s our link to Charlie. Tonight our pooch, Cookie, has been sniffing Charlie’s bed and has been very quiet. Maybe it’s starting to sink in for her that Charlie isn’t coming home. They were a funny ‘brother and sister’ and I think she loved him very much, despite being scared of him at times.
I feel incredibly sad and empty; those are my two overwhelming feelings right now. I also feel guilty that maybe I made the wrong decision to let Charlie go. I also feel relief (and guilty for feeling relieved) because the constant worry of knowing he was ill is gone. I also have to admit that, even though he was insured, it took a lot of our finances to go through all those tests. In no way do I regret trying to get to the bottom of what was going on – I wanted to do all I could for him – but there’s relief that the financial ‘worry’ has gone too.
I’ve not known pain like this before. It’s horrible, and I’m sure anyone who has had pets will know the sorts of feelings I’m talking about.
I wish I could just hold Charlie one more time. I wish I could take back all the times I had a go at him for clawing my clothes, nearly tripping me up in the kitchen, or moving him off my lap because he was too warm. I wish I could have heard him meow this morning when my alarm went off, as he used to do. I still listened out for him, even though I know he is gone.
I have a lot to be grateful for from the 8 years that I had Charlie; he brought so much joy into my life, but I will write about that later. Now I just need to grieve and adjust to how different life will be without him.
Goodbye Charlie, my beautiful baby boy xxxxx