Saturday, June 2, 2012
BACK TO BUDDY TWO MONTHS LATER
Today is the two-month anniversary of Buddy's passing and I wanted to reflect back on his diagnosis and illness.
The initial diagnosis was shocking, one we never expected and it sent us into panic mode. I was terrified - how was I going to handle chronic renal failure in a cat? What if Buddy wouldn't cooperate with his treatment? What if Buddy didn't respond to treatment? We were very lucky on both counts. Not only did Buddy respond to treatment but his incredible character continued to shine through all the life changes he had to endure. He protested very little and suffered through everything we did to him and for him. Amazing when you think about it. The most resistance he exhibited was trying to push my hand away when he had to take his appetite pill. He never once hissed, scratched, spit, bit or fought us, putting up a perfunctory resistance instead, an almost because-I-have-to-resist-in-some-way type of protest.
If you have a cat that fights you tooth and nail, wrap him in a towel, wear long sleeves, do what you can to get a routine going and medicines administered. Above all, realize you might not be able to handle your cat or administer what is needed. If you exhaust all efforts and still cannot get your cat into a routine, don't blame yourself, accept the situation and know you did what you could.
Once we settled into a routine, there was a tendency to forget Buddy was sick. Another pitfall of dealing with chronic renal failure. Play with your pet, enjoy him (or her) and love him but keep reminding yourself there is limited time left and you need to be prepared for the inevitable. There was a long stretch of time where we couldn't believe Buddy was sick and thankfully he didn't die suddenly. If that had happened it would have been impossible for us to cope.
With renal failure, the pet parent must be prepared for a sudden turn for the worst or an unexpected rapid decline. Cats are very good at hiding illness so the pet parent must understand that the diagnosis most likely is not at the beginning of the illness but after the disease has progressed. You must be prepared for your best efforts to yield either a long time of quality life, a short time of quality life or no positive results at all. Each cat is different and the results will be different as well. Don't blame yourself if your best efforts do not produce the expected results.
Finally, once your beloved companion is gone, allow yourself to grieve, give yourself time to heal, be kind to yourself. If you need to, spend time alone. If being with friends helps then make the effort to connect with others and if you need to, seek counseling to help you get through the rough times.
I'm sorry Buddy had to go through what he did and I miss him terribly but I would not change one second of the journey. We gave him the best life possible and he gave us so much more - his love and companionship.
If your cat has been diagnosed with renal failure, the information in the following links will prove invaluable: