Saturday, May 14, 2005


Today Anne and I were talking on MSN, and got on the topic of pets. I told her about my sweet little Willow, who passed away almost 2 years ago, and now I cant get him off my mind. Willow was a special cat, and he loved me to distraction, and I adored him. He was a soft grey colour, with white patches, and big green eyes. He slept with me every single night for the 3 years I had him, and if I stayed up late, he would sit there at my feet looking highly annoyed, until I picked him up and took him to bed. Willow was always sickly, he was allergic to food, and was on some very expensive stuff that didn't quite do the trick, but made things better. Every once in a while, I would have to give him the drug prednisone, which is what eventually did him in. That and the fact that he was "special."

Willow was special in a retarded sense. He saw the world very differently than the rest of us. In one apartment that we lived in, he was afraid of the livingroom carpet. Don't ask me why, he just was. Bounce across the carpet, touching it maybe twice as he went from the front entrance lino, to the couch, and then he would leap from the couch to the kitchen lino. If we tossed him onto the carpet, he would spring up about 3 feet into the air, and then dash off to hide under the bed, or the safety of the kitchen counter. The next apartment we lived in, he had a box that he ate on. It was an old Christmas tree box, that was in the livingroom, and for some reason, he refused to eat with the other cats out of the bowls. When we moved into the house we are in now, we couldn't find a spot for him to eat, which was the beginning of the end, for my sweet boy.

I went to Regina for a week, and before I went I was worried, but when I got home, it was apparent that he was sick. He was nothing but skin and bones, and seemed weak. I brought him to the Veterinary clinic where I worked, and he tried to eat us all. Willow had so many bad experiences at the vet, by this time he was unwilling to submit to anything. We had to sedate him just so the vet could examine him, and we could take blood. It turned out that his liver wasn't working well. At this point, I could have hospitalized him, but I decided instead to take him home and try to treat him there. He never got better, just worse and worse. Even when he was at his sickest though, he still cuddled up with me every night, although by now he would come under the covers with me, he was cold.

I remember the last night that he slept with me, he was so pathetic and tiny, just a little bag of bones huddled up against me. The next day, I took him back to the vet. By this point, he didn't even have the strength to fight anymore, he just lay there limply. We put a feeding tube in so we could force feed him. He had come down with a condition common in cats when they don't eat, called Hepatic Lipidosis, or Fatty Liver Syndrome. Basically, if your cat doesn't eat enough, his body will start depositing fat on the liver, and damage it. The only cure for it is to nurse the cat through it by force feeding them. Anyways, I was working, and I would go back to his kennel to check on him every 30 minutes or so. He was so weak he could hardly lift his head, but I was confident that we were doing the best we could for him, and that he would get through this. Near the end of my shift, I went back to check on him, and he didn't lift his head at all when I spoke to him. He had choked on his own vomit, and died. I still cry about it now, but then, I was absolutely devastated.

Anyways, I know that he had a good life, he was so special and loving, and I know he was happy. If anyone else had gotten him from the SPCA I'm sure things would have been different, they wouldn't have tolerated his sickness like I did. I still cant help but feel guilty. There are clients who come into the clinic with animals who are clearly dying or in pain, and the kindest thing to do is to euthanize them, but they are too blind, or maybe selfish, to see it. I hate that I became one of those people with Willow, and I just hope that he can forgive me for everything that I put him through.

I still miss Willow, and although I have other cats, who I love desperately, and will be just as devastated when they go, I will never have another one like him. I will never find another cat that special, who loves me as much as Willow did.


Raven said...

I believe it is kindest to euthanize animals who are suffereing, and have nothing to live for anymore. But it doesn't sound to me like like Willow was in that position at all. He had a lot to live for - he obviously cared for you, and enjoyed your presence immensely.
Although it's sad to hear that his last few days were filled with trips to the vet and medical interventions, you did what you could for him, and you kept coming to visit him, right up to the end.
Visits from loved ones are worth enduring a lot of pain for, at the end - I've learned that from taking care of many palliative clients, dying of cancer or AIDs or heart conditions.
My condolences on your loss. I hope you have many happy memories of him.

Emmett said...

I felt terrible forcing Homer through all those days in the vet at the end, with that tube up his nose and that steel rod in his leg. When I went to visit him, I was certain that he was angry at me and I felt even worse. He couldn't even lift his head.

But I was doing everything I possibly could for him and there was no way for him to know that. In the end he just gave up and I had to let him go.

I completely empathize with your loss. Homer slept with me every night and followed me around wherever I went. No matter how cute Ajax may get, he simply doesn't love me like Homer did. I just hope you can draw some comfort from the fact that Willow had a chance to live well and be well-loved, a chance he might not have gotten otherwise had you not been there.