Caring for a senior kitty is no easy task. Most kitties these days are able to live well into their teens, barring any unforeseen problems. Alex was only 11 when she died but she of course had numerous health issues that eventually took her life. My cat before her, Patches, lived to be 20. She had a few urinary tract infections in her older years but was otherwise very healthy; which is ironic considering the awful diet we fed her (I was oblivious to pet food issues then). She eventually succumbed to CRF. By the time we discovered her condition it was too late, treatment did not help. So we said our goodbyes to a long life, well lived.
It doesn’t matter how long you have them for, it’s always devastating to say goodbye. When I took Alex in, I wrongly assumed I’d have her as long as I had Patches. And of course, I did not. Now I care for my sister’s elderly cat, Midnight who most likely has IBD and CRF. She’s estimated to be around 17 or 18 years old and has been on a rollercoaster this year. Taking care of an elderly human is stressful but a senior kitty who needs daily sub-q fluids, pills, appetite stimulants to eat, etc.; some days I am beyond tired running up and down the stairs. I never know how her day will be when I get up. One day she’s fine, the next she is throwing up and won’t eat. At her age it’s imperative that she keep eating so on occasion I syringe feed her when she’s on a hunger strike.
I never had a break after Alex died. Shortly after she passed away my sister moved back home with her then two elderly kitties; Moufasa and Midnight. Mouffey was a flame point Siamese with a large personality and a big mouth to match, LOL. He could practically form works and knew how to say hello. Right away I could see I would have to take over their care as Moufasa had severe diarrhea. I put him on a raw diet and voila! Diarrhea gone, just like that! Things went well until almost two years later, Mouffey began losing weight. He had a mass in his stomach and he was growing weaker by the day. I came home one day to find it was time to let him go. I still miss him very much, he was so funny! But I have had no time to rest as Midnight became sick afterwards. His symptoms were much easier to handle as she is a tough case. She reminds me a lot of how Alex was except Midnight has diarrhea and Alex didn’t. Truth be told I have wondered why I am the designated kitty caretaker. But that’s exhaustion talking because I do know why. Because of my experience with Alex, Mouffey and Midnight would most likely not have lived as long or have had this quality of life.
It’s not easy; we all know it and its okay to admit it. We get frustrated, upset and emotional about it. But I also would not change one day of caring for them. I love and adore them and they know it. Even with all the things I do to her, pills, needles, etc., she still runs to me and wants kisses. A friend recently stated that she is lost without her routine of doing her kitty’s meds. She is heartbroken to have lost her senior kitty but part of her is relieved and that’s how I felt after Alex died. It’s so hard not to be able to go anywhere for long periods of time, having to spend all of your money on medications and fluids, etc. And it’s okay that you feel that way. It in no way makes you a bad parent! On the contrary, it makes you human. You are NOT a superhuman who can do everything for everyone all the time and never feel compelled to run away from your reality.
What makes you a great pet parent is doing all you do for them, feeling those feelings and knowing in your heart of hearts, you wouldn’t make a different choice. It’s not in you - your love for them comes first and why not? They deserve it. But know this; once in awhile…it’s okay to exhale. Just breathe!!! They’re okay with that…really! And when it’s time to say goodbye to your long time furry love, know that it’s okay to feel so many different things, including relieved, for you and for them. It’s normal and part of the grieving process. When it’s Midnight’s time to go, I will be crushed. She is as sweet and loving as they come. But I also know I will have done everything for her that I possibly could and then some. And then, maybe…I will be able to exhale.