Sad update SCC/my baby is gone - Dilemma - 20yr old cat with dental problems

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Jules20
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Sad update SCC/my baby is gone - Dilemma - 20yr old cat with dental problems

Post by Jules20 » Wed Nov 07, 2018 3:34 pm

Hi all

Not sure what the etiquette is here with updating posts and I really didn't want to come back on and give you all such sad news but you were all so helpful and I wanted to let you know the outcome of this.
Unfortunately, when they put Merlin under for the anaesthetic they found a large tumour under his tongue. The vet said we could bring him back round and take him home but it would only be for him to suffer more and that the kindest thing would be to put him to sleep, so this is what we did. Needless to say I'm devastated, full of regrets and missing him like crazy. I stroked him all the way in the car in the carrier to keep him from being so stressed and at times he did chill out a little bit. When we got to the vets, the vet let us in the back way as their entrance is on a very busy road and put the carrier on the floor just inside the door. She said that I could go in with him but she thought it best that they take him through and give him his pre-med straight away so he didn't pick up on my stress. He was crying in the carrier so I just went inside the door and spoke to him through the cage. My husband and I went down to the local shops so we weren't too far away and the call from the vet came about an hour and a half later. I have really beaten myself up over this, my husband said that I couldn't possibly have known the outcome and that no-one could've loved that cat as much as much as me and I know deep down this is true but feel that I let him down at the final hurdle. It had crossed my mind that there may be something else going on with him but this is only the second cat I have ever had and I was not familiar with oral cancer. My plan was always to have Merlin put to sleep at home when the time came and I am angry that this was taken away from him, it seems so cruel and brutal right now and especially as this was a cat who always loved his food. I am grateful that he didn't have to go through the dental treatment only for this to be discovered later but at the same time wish it had been spotted on the previous visit so that I could have kept him at home. On the Sunday evening, he was on the bed and I gave him lots of cuddles as I normally would and on Monday morning he went for his usual stroll in the garden and ate 8 Lik e lix (he had stopped eating all other food and water) so I am also grateful for that. I am trying to keep the happy memories of him but it is so hard, he was my best mate and I am missing him so much.
Again, sorry for the sad update but I am still in shock and thought it might help to share here.

Julia x



Hello all

Sorry for a very long winded first post but I wanted to reach out to other cat lovers as I have been agonising over this so much! I would be really, really grateful if any of you can share your insights/experiences with anything like this below?

My name is Julia and I have a 20yr old cat called Merlin. I managed to get him to the vets (more on that later) on Friday for blood tests as he has not been eating much last few weeks, pawing at his mouth, loud swallowing etc. The vet confirmed that his teeth are rotten and this is the most likely cause and they would need to be extracted/cleaned and whilst he is under they will do ultrasound to see if there is anything else going on in his tummy. The blood tests came back normal so they say he is ok for anesthesia. They have told me there is always a risk with anesthesia and some cats do well after dental surgery and some cats don't and still have problems.
My concern is that he originally came to me from a neighbour and he wasn't used to going to the vets and has horrendous stress from going in the carrier and car (panting, drooling, pooping). He also has high blood pressure and is pretty much blind now although his blindness hasn't really affected him at all. I took him to the vets about a year and a half ago because of the eyesight and the vet kept him in all day to monitor the blood pressure and when he came home he had a massive seizure. I honestly thought I was going to lose him that day but he did slowly bounce back after that. Due to that my vet said she would do home visits for blood pressure checks which she has been doing as I have been unable to find a proper home visit vet in my area. They can't do anything else at home hence me having to take him in for the blood tests and they said I could leave him there on that day and they would do the dental but I just wanted to get him back home and think about it. The vets have been very nice and let him wait in his own room with us there on Friday because they know how stressed he gets. I asked if there was anything else we could do apart from surgery and he has had a 2nd shot of Convenia (my vet came round and gave 1st shot a couple of weeks ago when he stopped eating), Metacam and they gave him vitamin B injection which has increased his appetite a little but nothing seems to be helping that much.
The thing is even though my vets are 'nice' I have always felt that I am asking too many questions and they never seem to offer the info readily which is really frustrating me and is really hard work. This is making me feel really uneasy about doing the dental surgery as they seem to be focusing on the fact that the blood results were fine so that equals him being fine but I feel I have more to consider than that. I don't want to start carting him round to other vets and causing him more stress though. I feel the only options are putting him through the stress of the surgery with a vet that I don't feel 100% confident in or the other option of putting him to sleep in the comfort of his own home, which doesn't bear thinking about but may be the kindest thing to do for him. He is my baby and I only want what's best for him. :(

Julia x
Last edited by Jules20 on Thu Nov 15, 2018 11:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Dilemma - 20yr old cat with dental problems

Post by Janey » Wed Nov 07, 2018 4:07 pm

Hi and welcome. I can only give my experiences with this, but I have had lots of elderly cats have dentals, because I’ve adopted lots of cats with issues, over 15 years. One of my cats was over 20 when she had a dental, with no known issues, other than a few tummy problems, but these seemed to clear up after the dental (bad teeth can upset the tummy too). Another cat I had was about 19, he was hyperthyroid with high blood pressure and not too good kidneys (although on medication for these). He came through the dental fine as well, they did only what was very necessary so he wasn’t under the anaesthetic too long. Another old cat with nasal/chest issues had all his teeth removed because his mouth was like raw liver, and he was fine too afterwards. I personally would go for the dental rather than pilling him if you can. I think he will feel tons better afterwards. My cat (nearly 9) has just had a dental and it was over in no time at all, they gave her a pre-med when I took her in to the local clinic that morning to relax her, they took her through to the main surgery in town a few hours later, and rang me after dinner to say she was in recovery and fine. I picked her up from our clinic at 4pm. They did check bloods and put her on a drip, as that’s safest for elderly cats especially if they have medical issues. I can understand your worries with him being very scared, but I am sure your vets will take this into account and reassure you. As I say though, I can only give my thoughts and experiences with this, you and your vet know your cat best, and I hope things work out well whatever you decide.

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Re: Dilemma - 20yr old cat with dental problems

Post by Lilith » Wed Nov 07, 2018 4:11 pm

Hi and welcome :)

This is a real dilemma; I too have (and have had others) an elderly cat who's stressed out by vet visits, but last year my Mouse weathered not just a dental but a fortnight's stay in a centre for radio-iodine hyperthyroid treatment and honestly I think I was more stressed out than she was. She's a grand big pudding of a cat now, 17 in the spring :) I've also heard of other elderly cats who've gained a new lease of life after the dreaded dental, and it's very encouraging about the blood tests.

It IS irritating when vets won't listen to all your questions; a decent vet ought to - dammit, it isn't the NHS and we're paying for their time! I don't expect much from doctors but I do from vets.

This is just my personal view of course and hopefully other people will be along soon with more advice, but I wish you and Merlin all the very very best - good luck whatever you decide x

ps is he a male tortie? That's amazingly rare. Bless him!

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Re: Dilemma - 20yr old cat with dental problems

Post by Ruth B » Wed Nov 07, 2018 4:38 pm

I would agree that the dental is worth the risk.

I had a 13 year old Ragdoll several years ago that had to have all his back teeth extracted over two sessions and he was so much better afterwards, the early signs of kidney problems even reverted after they were done, bad teeth can effect so much more than just their appetite. He only managed another 3 years afterwards but it was general old age that got him, not a dental problem.

Is it possible for the vet to give you something that you could give him in his meal the night before that would help calm him down for the trip and the surgery.Although it may be difficult i would also suggest you book to have a good talk to your vet, without taking Merlin to ask what is involved and what will be needed in the way of after care. If Merlin isn't with you you wont' be concerned about him getting stressed out and the vet will hopefully understand how important it is for you to know the details if you are willing to pay for a consultation without the cat being present. It is an additional cost but I think it would be worth it.

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Re: Dilemma - 20yr old cat with dental problems

Post by fjm » Wed Nov 07, 2018 5:05 pm

I would ask to schedule a discussion, either at the surgery or over the phone, and have your questions and concerns written down. You could even email them to the vet ahead of talking them through, perhaps. Sorting his teeth out will very probably improve his quality of life enormously, so if you can find a way of doing it without stressing him excessively it is worth doing. If you take him in a carrier that smells comfortingly of home, and the vets pre-med him before taking him out, he may hardly be aware of what is happening.

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Re: Dilemma - 20yr old cat with dental problems

Post by Jules20 » Wed Nov 07, 2018 6:16 pm

Thank you so much for your replies. It really does help immensely to hear others thoughts/experiences whether good or bad.

One of the vet nurses did suggest that a nurse could possibly come to the house on the day and pre-med him but the vet seemed concerned that it would perhaps take him longer to come round from the anaesthetic. However, it was just a very quick discussion as I hadn't decided so definitely worth exploring further. To be fair to them they have answered my questions but I seem to have to ask everything and I have to know the right questions to ask if you know what I mean! They did also say that they would give him fluids so perhaps I am just worried and being over cautious!

I'm just hoping that there isn't anything else going on as he does look a bit confused at times and doesn't respond as quickly now when I call him and is flicking his ears a lot. It seems to have got bad pretty quickly but I guess that could be from the pain he is experiencing. He's still coming for cuddles though and sitting on his favourite chair in the kitchen begging to be fed and it's so heartbreaking to see him go to the food bowl and not be able to eat much. He always loved his food!

The carrier has been left out and I have tried Feliway and it does seem to calm him a little bit but on a scale of 1-10 I'd say his stress level is 10 and comes down to about an 8. I totally get the stress thing Lilith I'd say if his are about an 8, mine are more like 15 haha!

I don't think he is a tortie, he is mainly black with a bit of brown but he does look more brown in the photo perhaps down to the light. He was a neighbour's cat that barged his way in here and didn't want to leave. I had a cat before I moved in here and I swore I was never going to go through that again...until he turned up. We kinda cat shared for a good few years and then it was decided that as he was with me most of the time, I should be his sole owner and pay for the vet fees haha!

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Re: Dilemma - 20yr old cat with dental problems

Post by Sniper1 » Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:00 pm

Personally I would go for the dental I totally understand your concerns its a massive stress for you both and yes there is added risk but he needs the chance to be comfortable and eat I would insist on staying with him until he's had his pre med and be there early to pick him up even if he's not ready and you have to wait around at least your close at hand if he needs your reassurance

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Re: Dilemma - 20yr old cat with dental problems

Post by Jules20 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 10:49 am

He is booked in for Monday and I have sent an email to my vets to make sure everything is covered! Thank you all so much for your replies x

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Re: Dilemma - 20yr old cat with dental problems

Post by Lilith » Fri Nov 09, 2018 11:51 am

Good luck Merlin! Please let us know how he went on :)

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Re: Dilemma - 20yr old cat with dental problems

Post by Ruth B » Fri Nov 09, 2018 12:11 pm

Good luck and fingers crossed for a speedy recovery.

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Re: Dilemma - 20yr old cat with dental problems

Post by Janey » Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:11 pm

All the best for Merlin! xx

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Re: Dilemma - 20yr old cat with dental problems

Post by Jules20 » Sun Nov 11, 2018 11:35 am

Thank you. Will let you know how he gets on :)

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Re: Sad update SCC/my baby is gone - Dilemma - 20yr old cat with dental problems

Post by Kay » Thu Nov 15, 2018 9:39 pm

I've only just seen this - I'm so sorry you lost your boy

Mouth tumours are notoriously difficult to spot or treat, so please don't beat yourself up for not realising what was going on - and sadly the final goodbye is rarely just as we would wish it to be, but really all those years you had him and cared for him are a thousand times more significant than your not being there when he went to the bridge.

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Re: Sad update SCC/my baby is gone - Dilemma - 20yr old cat with dental problems

Post by Ruth B » Thu Nov 15, 2018 10:07 pm

I am so sorry to read the update and what happened in the end, but Thank you for letting us know.

Please try not to blame yourself for the way it worked out, you did your best for him, and in the end let him go as soon as you knew that to keep him going would be to keep him suffering. It may not have been the ending you wanted for him, but it was the best option the way things worked out.

It is a lesson I learned early in life when the first cat my family had ended up with stomach cancer, which wasn't diagnosed until he had exploratory surgery. The vet phoned while he was on the table under anesthetic to ask my parents if they wanted him woken up, if he had been he would have starved to death in a matter of weeks. My parents didn't hide what had happened, but it was a hard lesson for a girl in her early teens to learn, it is however one I have never forgot, we have the choice to prevent them suffering, even if it means hurting ourselves doing so.

Take time to grieve for Merlin, he was a part of your family and losing any member of your family hurts. You will go through periods of absolute sadness, as well as periods of guilt and anger, you will ask yourself what could have been done differently, could the vets have spotted it sooner. This is all a normal part of the grieving process and please keep telling yourself that you did the best thing for him, there was nothing more that anyone could do, cats are notorious for hiding their problems. Remember the good times and try not to dwell on how it ended.

Hugs to you, and if you feel you need to talk you will be welcome here, everyone understands what you are going through and will never demean your loss.

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Re: Sad update SCC/my baby is gone - Dilemma - 20yr old cat with dental problems

Post by Janey » Thu Nov 15, 2018 10:22 pm

Hi Julia, I’m so sorry to read this. You really did the best you could for Merlin, it’s just so unfortunate that this was to happen, but you prevented him from further suffering, as Ruth has said, the best option the ways things turned out. It will be hard, we always question everything, no matter how our babes leave us, that’s natural. Merlin would have known how much you loved him.
God Bless Merlin, at peace now. Take care Julia ((hugs)) to you x

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Re: Sad update SCC/my baby is gone - Dilemma - 20yr old cat with dental problems

Post by Mayday21 » Thu Nov 15, 2018 10:39 pm

Hi Jules my heart goes out to you on Merlin. We all go through the guilts, second guessing if we did the right thing, if only. Merlin was truely loved for 20 yrs & I’m sure you wouldn’t have wanted him to suffer. You’ll get lots of support here. Forgive me if I lost something in your post but are you having him come home? Having him close may give you some comfort. People have had fur babe’s buried & bought special plants to remind them. If this is an option I’m sure garden experts will be able to give you some plants to consider aligning with Merlin’s name. Take care & accept my sympathies. RIP little Merlin & enjoy “The Bridge”. Vivian

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Re: Sad update SCC/my baby is gone - Dilemma - 20yr old cat with dental problems

Post by Lilith » Thu Nov 15, 2018 11:05 pm

Julia, I'm so very very sorry to hear this! Knowing you have to part with them is bad enough but when it comes as a complete shock, when you (and the vet!) thought it was a routine operation and didn't get chance to say goodbye properly ... Yes, we all feel guilty, I don't know why; we go over every last moment, even though setting them free from that failed body is the last loving thing we can do. Sleep tight little Merlin. Love and hugs to you all, Lil x

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Re: Sad update SCC/my baby is gone - Dilemma - 20yr old cat with dental problems

Post by fjm » Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:21 am

I am so very sorry - it is the phone call we all dread. You made your decision based on the information available, and none of us, no matter how much knowledge or experience we may have, can do more than that. Merlin had a very long and very happy life with you, and the final trip to the vets was as stress free as possible - the pre med almost immediately would have made him drowsy and relaxed and unaware of what was happening around him. Do not dwell on the "if onlys" - he is free of pain and discomfort that would have got worse with every passing day, and that was the last and best gift your love could give him.

Try and remember the happy times - hard, I know, but there must have been so many of them over the years. Thousands of good days to set against these last few weeks of anxiety and grief, and a life to be celebrated as well as mourned.

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Re: Sad update SCC/my baby is gone - Dilemma - 20yr old cat with dental problems

Post by booktigger » Fri Nov 16, 2018 12:29 pm

I’m so sorry to hear about Merlin, but please don’t beat yourself up, due to cats survival instincts they hide things very well, and oral tumours are hard to spot. We can’t always plan the ending as we like, but the important thing is the happy, long life he had with you, and still having things as normal till the end.

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Re: Sad update SCC/my baby is gone - Dilemma - 20yr old cat with dental problems

Post by Jules20 » Fri Nov 16, 2018 5:18 pm

A big thank you to each and every one of you for your replies. It really is a great comfort to read your words as you all know exactly how it feels. Right now my anger has increased considerably towards the vets but I know this won't change anything now and I hope that in time I can can come to terms with it. Everything you all say is 100% right but it is so hard sometimes to see these things through the unbearable pain of grief. Also I am not very good at forgiving myself, I've always been like that and it drives my poor husband up the wall sometimes!
There sure were so many happy times that Merlin and I shared but I am missing my buddy and know I have to adapt to life without him which of course will be tough because he was such a massive part of it. I have a whole collection of photos and videos of him that I've saved to USB so those memories will always be with me.
I'm so grateful to have found this forum and thank you all once again.

Julia x

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Re: Sad update SCC/my baby is gone - Dilemma - 20yr old cat with dental problems

Post by Nicky brown » Tue Nov 20, 2018 12:44 am

Hi
Just read your post. Really sad. I lost my baby 4 weeks ago - completely different circumstances but like you we were given a choice of putting him to sleep, which wasn't a choice at all. In your case, a known tumour and in ours paralysis of his back kegs and tail. It was horrible and whilst I know, like you, that it was the kindest thing to do, my heart still hasn't caught up with my brain and I feel I let him down. You are lucky though - 20 years is amazing. The longest I have ever had a cat is 15. Poor Hendrick was just two and a half and Toulouse 11 months. But I understand, age doesn't matter when the grief is yours - 2 or 20, it's the same. You still did the right thing going for the treatment and if the tumour hadn't been spotted then, he could have had a painful, traumatic end - you spared him that. I am convinced one of my cats had a tumour though I didn't think it until after she was gone. We had her put to sleep after over 24 hours of her fitting - a terrible thing to watch. I know medication can help with fits but she had gone through a stroke and temporary blindness 8 months earlier and there is only so much.......
Enjoy your two decades of happy memories when you are ready. You did the kindest thing.
Nicky
Ps I have been angry at the vets too - in my case for not getting a second opinion, for not giving him pain relief sooner, for mentioning the goat without insurance and for not giving us even more time to say goodbye but at the end of the day, anger and blame is a natural part of the grieving process. We have to blame someone.

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Re: Sad update SCC/my baby is gone - Dilemma - 20yr old cat with dental problems

Post by Jules20 » Wed Nov 21, 2018 11:29 am

Hi Nicky thanks for your reply. Everything you say is spot on. I am so sorry that you lost your babies so young. I had Merlin for about 12 years as he started coming here about 3 years after we moved in to my current house and he was already about 8yrs old. His owner had got another cat amongst other things and Merlin really didn't like being there so in this case he really did choose me! Luckily the situation was all very amicable with my neighbour and eventually we arranged for him to stay with me permanently. I had a cat where I lived previously who reached the age of 14 and after he went I swore I'd never do it to myself again. Merlin pretty much barged his way into my heart and I allowed him to so I guess on some subconcious level I had missed having a cat in my life and was ready.

As you say though whatever age they are the grief is still the same. Merlin's blood tests had come back normal (which is pretty amazing for a cat of that age) so I know that if it wasn't for this awful oral tumour he'd still be here now and it just seems so unfair. It is true that whatever time we have with them will never be enough.

You have been through so much with your babies and it is so hard to see them in pain. Merlin had gone blind and had high blood pressure and a couple of years ago when we first discovered the blood pressure he had a seizure when we brought him back from the vets. It was the most frightening thing I have ever seen and I really thought I was going to lose him that day. Luckily he came out of it after a couple of minutes and didn't have another one after that but I know that must've been so hard to see your baby go through that.

I can only echo what you and others have told me; that we did the right thing, we didn't let them down and it's because we cared so much that we are feeling so much pain right now. Like you though I have not made peace with that yet and the last time I saw him is still going over and over in my head. My brain has not even fully registered yet that he is gone and I am missing him like crazy and it hurts so much. As you say anger and blame is a natural part of the grieving process and hopefully in time we can come to terms with it. Much love to you and please try to be kind to yourself even though I know how hard that is right now. Julia x

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Re: Sad update SCC/my baby is gone - Dilemma - 20yr old cat with dental problems

Post by bobbys girl » Thu Nov 22, 2018 7:53 pm

Ruth B wrote:It is a lesson I learned early in life when the first cat my family had ended up with stomach cancer, which wasn't diagnosed until he had exploratory surgery. The vet phoned while he was on the table under anesthetic to ask my parents if they wanted him woken up, if he had been he would have starved to death in a matter of weeks. My parents didn't hide what had happened, but it was a hard lesson for a girl in her early teens to learn, it is however one I have never forgot, we have the choice to prevent them suffering, even if it means hurting ourselves doing so.
The same thing happened with our Lurcher, Katie. We went into town with two dogs, left Katie for her Op and returned home with a very distressed Rosie dog on the back seat and Katie in the back under a blanket. That was over ten years ago and my husband still hasn't got over it. Every time the subject comes up he blames himself for not knowing and/or not getting a second opinion (Katie was only eating small amounts but was bouncing around as usual)

A lot of us here know just what you are going through, Julia. keep telling yourself - you did the best for him. RIP Merlin, many (hugs) to you Julia

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Re: Sad update SCC/my baby is gone - Dilemma - 20yr old cat with dental problems

Post by Jules20 » Fri Nov 23, 2018 12:09 pm

Thanks so much for your reply bobbys girl. Like your lurcher, Merlin was still bouncing around (well as much as a 20yr old blind cat could) and coming for cuddles so it was mainly the eating. I know letting him go once we knew the diagnosis was the kindest thing to do as I wouldn't have wanted to bring him home to suffer more. Even though there has been the thought of maybe I should've brought him home, I know that probably would have been for me and not for him. Just wish I could've kept him at home in the first place so like your husband I am finding it very difficult to come to terms with. Just hoping that once the raw grief subsides I can find a way through it.

Thanks again for all your replies and much love to you all. Julia x

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