SUDDEN UNEXPECTED DEATH OF ELDERLY CAT

Help & Support for those who have lost a beloved cat
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CatLady42
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SUDDEN UNEXPECTED DEATH OF ELDERLY CAT

Post by CatLady42 » Wed Jul 15, 2020 6:43 pm

I need to share this with someone as I have no-one to really talk to. My gorgeous, full of beans, active 18 year old cat was put to sleep on Monday night completely unexpectedly. He was right as rain, with no outward problems that I could detect and was behaving totally normally. He had been eating a little less in the previous few days, but that was nothing terribly unusual as from time to time that did happen for a few days and then he just went back to eating with gusto. In fact, very recently I'd started giving him extra food because he had been enjoying his meals so much.

At about 9 o'clock in the evening I saw him walk into the room, sit and have a look out of the window for a while, then go over to his water bowl and have a drink, before sauntering out of the room. I watched him wander off, and he looked totally normal. The next thing I knew, there was a commotion near the cat litter boxes. I went out to see what on earth was going on. He had obviously got into the box okay, but had struggled to get out as he was dusted with cat litter. He was on the floor in distress and couldn't stand up. I thought he'd hurt his leg. As I went towards him to see what had happened he suddenly vomited up all the water he'd drunk a few minutes earlier then tried to get himself up and away. I lifted him gently away from the puddle and moments later he had the most terrifying seizure on the floor. He tried hard to get himself up afterwards, which he did, but didn't seem to understand that his front leg wasn't working so kept falling onto his front. I picked him up and held him while we called the emergency vet.

We were at the vet's by about 9.45. It was hopeless. The vet diagnosed a possible brain tumour had caused a stroke and a seizure. My cat's pupils were dilated and would not react to light. The vet said the kindest thing was to put him to sleep, and said that's what she would do if he were hers. I don't even know whether he even knew I was with him, but I stayed with and held him in my arms trying to talk to him reassuringly through my tears once the sedative had been given, and he slipped into a deep sleep. I've since been reading up and have seen that in these circumstances, unresponsive pupils likely indicate blindness, so I hope to goodness he knew I was with him, and that he could hear me if he couldn't see me. I was in still in my outdoor coat and I had a mask on, so I wasn't very recognisable, and that's a worry. We were invited back in to see him and say a last goodbye after the final injection had been administered, but it was like looking at an empty shell. With the life gone out of him and dull eyes, there was nothing left of him, if that makes any sense. Part of me wishes I hadn't gone back in after that fatal injection, but part of me felt duty bound to just in case it was something I later might live to regret not doing. But now I can't un-see him like that, and that's hard.

In the space of less than 2 hours from the whole incident starting we were back home, shell shocked and broken hearted. It seemed such a stressful and frightening end for him and it came totally out of the blue. Has anyone else been through this with an elderly cat? It all happened so quickly and was so unexpected that I can hardly believe he's gone. I am heartbroken, traumatised and missing him. I have got other cats that I love just as much as the cat I've just lost, and they are still giving and receiving plenty of love and fuss, but the house still seems quiet and empty. Despite his age, he was a busy, active cat, very small in stature but with a big personality and a big voice, and very much made his presence felt, so it feels very strange without him. He would wait in the bedroom for me to get into bed at night, and once I was in bed he usually started the night tucked under the duvet sleeping on my shoulder, and I have missed that. During the day he often slept in a cat bed right next to my desk and made regular visits to me while I worked, either sitting on the desk or on my lap, purring away as I worked. In fact he did that on the day he died, so that's a comfort. I've had to put away some of the things only he used as I can't bear seeing them. Even his feeding station has been packed away - but not seeing the feeding station is equally hard because when it's not there it's still a reminder of our loss. I just adored him.

I know things will get easier in time, but that was utterly dreadful. I just can't believe what has happened.

Amerififer
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Re: SUDDEN UNEXPECTED DEATH OF ELDERLY CAT

Post by Amerififer » Wed Jul 15, 2020 7:57 pm

My sincere condolences on the loss of your furry family member.
It is soooo hard when we have lost them even more so when it's unexpected.
Almost 6 years ago now my 15 year old boy Feadan died quite suddenly and unexpectedly..
I had been at work.. nothing different in the morning both he and my then 14 year old completey themselves.. ate as normal.. etc..
Came home from work ...opened my front door and all I could hear was the most horrendous crying sound from my 14 year old Midnight from the sitting room. Dropped everything in my hands and ran to the sitting room... to see
Poor Midnight sitting over the lifeless dead body of his life long pal Feadan. It was the sound of Midnight's crying that was the worst for me then the shock of finding Feadan curled up like he had gone to sleep.. Vets thought Feadan must have either had a heart attack or stroke as it was something quick and no outward signs of anything else..
Its Midnights sound of his howling crying that still sticks with me to this day.. :(
Had to have Midnight PTS Feb 2017 as he had end stage kidney failure, hyperthyroid, increased heart murmer and chronic reoccuring gum/teeth abscesses. ( I stayed with him throughout the process. )
Even having had cats most of my life the end is NEVER easy.. just shows how much you've loved them and how much of an impact they've had in your life.
Telling you my story as I completely understand how you are feeling.
My thoughts are with you during this sad time .. x

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Re: SUDDEN UNEXPECTED DEATH OF ELDERLY CAT

Post by Mollycat » Thu Jul 16, 2020 6:36 am

So sorry for your loss, in such frightening circumstances. So awful for you to have it end this way.

If he was aware of anything at all, he would have been aware of you. Cats don't need their sight to know familiar loving arms holding them, and hearing is usually the last sense to go. Saucer eyes can be blindness or they can also be the brain trying to make sense of something unusual happening.

I know it's hard, I lost my angel boy aged 14 to an apparently sudden illness. We have so many questions that can never be answered and somehow we have to find a way to make our peace with not knowing. The trauma of those last moments are ours though, our beloved pets are truly at peace. But it seems from what you say that his last days were good, with a strong appetite and everything perfectly normal.

Always a tough decision, to see them or not to see them, the haunting final image in our minds and the active work we have to do to replace it with the joyous and tender memories of the years that went before. The little furry body that cuddled and comforted and made us laugh and tripped us up, is now just an old winter coat that the real essence of their being doesn't need any more where they have gone. Those big eyes that pleased for treats and affection and showed us their love for us, the light of life we took for granted, gone out. It hurts so much because it makes it so real and final, but that is what will help us come to terms, step by step, through bad days and gradually better days. Cats' eyes don't close when they die so it's even harder for us humans to cope with and for a while it seems unreal. In time, when your heart is healed enough, I hope it will have been the right thing to do, even if it seems to make the pain so much worse right now.

I feel wrong sharing my story because this is about you, not us, but in brief I didn't live with my Henry any more. I went to visit and was surprised he didn't come to greet me, I had to call him. He dragged himself across the floor towards me and went down in the loaf position, it was as far as he could go. His tongue was hanging out and his face was swollen on one side. I thought car accident and rushed him to the vets within 10 minutes. They examined him and found a large mouth tumour that must have been there for some time, it had got the better of him that morning. He was in his prime, a magnificent tuxedo boy with a shock of white whiskers who walked in 11 years before demanding to be loved, by me, just when my heart was healed enough from losing the feline love of my life. He was my angel cat. The vet was cold and abrupt, I should have demanded time with my boy in private but I failed him and that's my guilt to carry - at least I was there. We will always find something to feel guilty about even when there is nothing, it's how our minds work and a normal part of grieving.

Take good care of you in the days and weeks to come.

CatLady42
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Re: SUDDEN UNEXPECTED DEATH OF ELDERLY CAT

Post by CatLady42 » Thu Jul 16, 2020 6:51 am

Thank you so much for posting Amerifier and thank you for your condolences and understanding. You are right, our cats are dearly loved members of the family and their loss is never borne easily. I can only imagine what it must have felt like to come home to find your beloved Feadan dead and Midnight in such distress. As you say, fortunately it sounds as if death was relatively peaceful for Feadan, but not for you or Midnight and it must have been truly awful to walk through your front door into that situation.

It was distressing seeing my cat so gravely ill, with his body failing and out of control, and seeing him so panicked and frightened. Feeling utterly powerless to stop what was happening was terrifying, but in some ways I was 'fortunate' to have been at home when it happened. If I had been out, I might have come back to find his contorted body in a puddle of sick and poo and then forever agonised over exactly what had happened, how long he had been in distress and whether he had been lying slowly dying in pain and scared. At least those questions are answered and if that's the only comforting thing I can think of, then I'll have to take it.

I am sat at my desk to start the day acutely aware that I am missing a visit from my furry friend who, after breakfast, would start his mornings sitting on my lap with me stroking his chest as he sat purring. These early days are the really desperately hard ones with the constant reminders of their absence. Three days in, I am still shocked and even though I know he is not here any more, in some ways is still sinking in.

CatLady42
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Re: SUDDEN UNEXPECTED DEATH OF ELDERLY CAT

Post by CatLady42 » Thu Jul 16, 2020 1:34 pm

Thank you Mollycat for posting your comments and relaying your story. It sounds like an awful experience discovering your darling Henry so unwell and then having to have him PTS, and especially having to contend with such a lack of empathy from the vet. That was abysmal. I'd say you far from failed Henry - you were able to get him help and you felt strong enough to stay with him to the last. At least the vet we saw was kind, patient and understanding and gave us time alone both before and after he was euthanased. But the shock, exhaustion and grief afterwards are quite overwhelming aren't they?

It is very early days and I am still experiencing the horrible twisted knife in the guts feeling when I remember he isn't here any more. Lots of tears today, and they won't be the last. I loved him beyond measure.

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Re: SUDDEN UNEXPECTED DEATH OF ELDERLY CAT

Post by JulieJulie » Fri Jul 17, 2020 10:47 am

I am so sorry that you have been through this heart breaking experience. People think it should be better because 'they've got to a good age' and 'they knew how loved they were' but none of that makes the pain any easier.
You did the right thing letting your boy go. You had no option. I know this won't make it any easier to bear the pain and loss.

I knew I was losing my girl, she was 19+ but she kept coming back, I fought hard for her. I wanted her to pass at home, I would usually have the vet out for end of life, but this vile Covid has caused pain upon pain for so many people, and not being able to do that for her is my pain.
I knew I was losing her that morning but hoped she would pass peacefully, until she started fitting, at which point I scooped her up and took her to the vet. The word 'awful' seems like such an understatement at such times, I cannot even write about the detail, it is too painful. After what seemed like forever the vet let me in as they gave her the final injection. I don't know if she knew I was there or not but I was able to kiss her nose and forehead and tell her how much I loved her. This was 3 days ago, the day after you lost your boy.
Those last few hours seem like a lifetime don't they, we ruminate over them endlessly. Nevermind the many many years of love, 5am feeds and meds, endless cuddles, spending last pennies on heated blankets and nice foods for them.

I know I will get through this, and I am sure you know the same, but does that help? Nope. 2 years ago I had 10 cats (rescues) and now I have 6. I have loved and lost, but each time it gets no easier. This time I lost my youngest and eldest 3 weeks apart. I never even got to say goodbye to my youngest.

Being at home so much over these past few months, the bonds have become so very strong, our lives so very intertwined. So many triggers around the house. It's too much to bear sometimes.

The pain is so raw. I can tell you what I cannot take on board myself but they say helping others helps us to heal aswell.
Back up your precious photos, print some out, write a journal, list what you remember about your baby cat, the things you love, miss. Talk to your friends who understand and avoid those who don't. No one needs to know - you have had a family bereavement, that is the truth of the matter. I have always brought a keepsake for each of my lost pets - an ornament for the garden, sun catcher etc.

Waking up will become a little easier each day, the memory of the last bad experience will fade and be overwhelmed by the love and joy of the many many more happy times. Keep coming back here for support. xx

CatLady42
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Re: SUDDEN UNEXPECTED DEATH OF ELDERLY CAT

Post by CatLady42 » Sun Jul 19, 2020 6:28 pm

Thank you JulieJulie for your support. My heart goes out to you for your loss. I have now lost three cats in the last five years, and with the previous two cats I was fortunate enough to be able to have the vet visit us at home for them to be put to sleep. Like you, this time it was completely out of my hands and my boy was denied that luxury. The saddest thing about that is that, in his little world, travelling in the car was just about the most terrifying ordeal I could put him through. I dreaded trips to the vets with him; he was always so frightened that he'd wee and poo in the box and cry all the way. So I can completely empathise that you had to take your girl to the surgery, and the COVID-19 restrictions just added to an already stressful and heartbreaking situation.

At the moment I'm feeling cheated - actually for myself and for him. I won't hear anyone say 'he was old'; well he was, but to me he was fit and well and hadn't started displaying the classic ageing signs such as kidney failure (his kidney function was very good and the vet always remarked how good his teeth were), no arthritis or generally slowing down. I know we can't predict the future, but to me it seemed like he had quite a bit of living still to do. I am certain he was enjoying life and happy with his lot. It's very difficult to get to grips with the fact that he became so catastrophically unwell.

I agree that the triggers around the house are too much to bear sometimes. I hope your pain starts to ease. Like me, I'm sure you find huge comfort in the company of your other cats.

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Re: SUDDEN UNEXPECTED DEATH OF ELDERLY CAT

Post by JulieJulie » Tue Jul 21, 2020 11:03 am

CatLady42, I'm not surprised you are in shock, it's like within the space of a couple of hours your bubble of getting through life with your furry loved one has completely collapsed. There is no warning, no period of preparation, nothing, just this traumatic event followed by a gaping void.

I have been told that people who have seizures do not remember them afterwards, so perhaps this is also true of our cats.

The only consolation I can offer you is that which I hold onto - your little man was just going about his daily business and then within a short space of time, he's passed over to the Bridge.

The pain is awful, like a physical ache, a constant knot in your stomach and the repeated shock of realising that they aren't there any more.

Sometimes I envy the people who just get a bit sad for a few days then move on, but they haven't had the connection we have shared with our furry family. Right now though, nothing helps with the pain does it. I have started to write down lots of things about my 2 cats that i don't want to forget, i have also got a candle for each one that I light in the evenings and that has started to help. I had to re-arrange my lounge furniture
to re-programme my brain from running through the same memories again and again and that has helped a little too.

It helps to know that others understand the pain we are going through but it does not remove that pain. You have got through losses before, so you know you can get through this, but that doesn't help at the moment. I'm sure your little man knew how much he was loved xx

CatLady42
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Re: SUDDEN UNEXPECTED DEATH OF ELDERLY CAT

Post by CatLady42 » Fri Sep 11, 2020 2:11 pm

It has been eight weeks since my cat died. The morning after he was put to sleep, I packed away his place mat and his microchip operated feeder. I was thinking the other day that I ought to take the batteries out of the feeder now that it isn't being used as I don't want the batteries going dead and ruining it. That was on Monday; now it's Friday, and I just can't face doing it. Isn't it funny how the smallest, most inconsequential things can upset you and seem so difficult?

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Re: SUDDEN UNEXPECTED DEATH OF ELDERLY CAT

Post by Mollycat » Fri Sep 11, 2020 5:13 pm

No, it's a huge part of our life and our heart that's gone, and although sometimes we need to pack every possible reminder out of sight, we also can't bear to disrespect them or betray their memory by actually making any real changes. It's very normal. The tiniest details are the thousand cuts we're not expecting. I still have a comb, a bowl and a vaccination record from more than 30 years ago. It's ok. Sending you hugs.

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Re: SUDDEN UNEXPECTED DEATH OF ELDERLY CAT

Post by papa cat » Sat Sep 12, 2020 6:37 am

On a vaguely similar subject. My partner ( Mama Cat) died over 9 years ago and some of the things she bought me are now worn out and falling to pieces, but I can't bear to part with them.
I 'inherited' her cat, too but it died after a couple of years, also of a sudden illness.
I still have things it used and it's ashes in a container on my mantelpiece.

Put away the things that upset you but don't get rid of them.
When you are ready maybe get another cat to fill your void, you will never replace the one you have lost but you could then bring out the things he used and use them as if in his memory.

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