Urban Cadence

Rest in peace, Squeaky...

Sunday, Jun. 21, 2009 @ 12:52 p.m.

I've always felt sympathetic whenever a friend lost a pet, but there always got to a point when I would think, "Gee, it's only an animal... get over it already". If I had a time machine right now, I would go back and give myself a huge slap.

For my friends who know who Squeaky is, you might remember how distraught I was in April, when Squeaky was hospitalized for panleukopenia (feline distemper). Since kittens that contract panleukopenia rarely survive, I prepared myself for the worst. But miraculously enough, after a $4,500 vet bill, she recovered. She came home, and was her usual happy hyperactive self again. I thought the worst was over; she was now immune to that deadly disease, and I will see her grow up to live a long and happy life. I could not have been more overjoyed.

Until Friday morning.

After I woke up, I went to pet her as I usually do. But to my horror, I saw small pools of blood all over the footstool that she usually sleeps on. I frantically checked to see where the blood came from, and found that her mouth was filled with blood. Immediately, I popped her into her carrier and rushed her to the vet. At that point, I was not that alarmed, because other than her oral bleeding, she was perfectly normal behaviorally. I thought she might have simply run into a wall or something, and could be easily treated as such.

The vet saw that the bleeding was coming from her lower right gumline. He concluded that she was simply teething, but was concerned because kittens that are teething don't usually bleed so profusely. He took some blood to check if she had coagulation problems, and told me that since she was behaving normally, it probably wasn't a huge concern. I took her home, and gave her a can of food, and went to have a late lunch with my friend Betty.

When I came home to check on Squeaky, I noticed that her food was untouched. This was highly unusual, since she usually eats like a glutton. I looked around for her, and as I walked, I noticed more small pools of blood all over my carpet. When I found her, she was no longer her usual active self. She was lethargic, she was still bleeding, and the nictitating membranes of her eyes were visible. I stood her up, and as she walked a little, she did so as if she was drunk. A traumatic flashback came over me - these were the exact same signs that prompted me to bring her to the vet two months ago, when she was diagnosed with panleukopenia.

I had to bring her back to the animal hospital. Because I feared that her ailment from before had somehow recurred, I called Ex-Marine to come with me. He had planned to spend the night in bed, since he had a bad case of the flu. But I had to have him with me, as it may very well be the last time we ever see Squeaky again. After more blood work, my heart sank when the doctor told me that her red blood cell and platelet counts were dangerously low. It was back. Something was once again attacking her bone marrow, and because she was heavily depleted of platelets, her clotting ability was seriously compromised. This was why she was bleeding for over 24 hours from just teething. The doctor asked me if I noticed if her stools were very dark and almost black... and I suddenly remembered that I made that observation as I glanced into her litter box just before I brought her back to the animal hospital. There was blood in her stool. She was bleeding internally.

The doctor suggested treating her aggressively. This meant putting her in intensive care and giving her blood transfusions... the same treatment as before. However, this time, the first night alone was quoted to be between $1,800 and $2,200. Furthermore, this was not an overnight remedy; she would have to be in the hospital for multiple nights, just like the last time. My heart sank... after paying $4,500 the last time, I couldn't afford to spend another $5,000 to treat her again. In total, she would have cost me about $10,000... and I simply didn't have that kind of money. And even if I treated her the second time and she recovered, there was no guarantee that this problem will not come back again. I was faced with the one and only option left. The most difficult and unpleasant one. I had to put little Squeaky, a tiny kitten and my sweet little baby at merely five months of age, to sleep.

It was tearful, to say the least. I simply could not believe I was going to have to put her down... and not because she was untreatable, but because I didn't have the money. Just because of the money. I considered not being present for the process, but Ex-Marine asked me: "If you were dying, would you want to be alone with a stranger, or would you want to be around people you love?". He was right... I had to be there to say goodbye to her.

The doctor brought her in to let us play with her one last time before the lethal injections. Strangely, during those last minutes, she appeared completely healthy. I couldn't stop telling her how sorry I was and how much I loved her... and goodbye. We cried the entire time. The process was split into three injections: The first one to relax her, the second one which was the overdose of an anesthetic which would stop her heart, and the third one to flush everything down.

Now, squeaky was always a LOUD purrer. She purred as soon as you even looked at her. She purred all the time. So much that doctors rarely are able to hear her heart, because she simply wouldn't stop purring. The doctor administered the first injection. It was only then that I realized to the full extent of what I had done... when she finally stopped purring. We started wailing uncontrollably. I thought when people 'put their animals to sleep', they would just appear as though they went to sleep... but I was wrong. In her drug-induced state, her eyes rolled back, and her tongue stuck out. It was the most ghastly sight... and one I wish wasn't the last sight I caught of her.

The second injection - the lethal one - went in. I kept kissing her on her forehead and said goodbye... even though I knew she was already gone. By the time the third injection went in, I was convulsing with grief. The doctor listened to her heart... and just like that, she was gone.

She was only five months old. She hadn't even lived long enough to have a birthday.

Needless to say, I am sobbing as I write this. I still have Smelly Cat around - thankfully - but the house is just so empty without her playful galloping. I am wreaked with guilt. I can't help but feel like I killed her. I feel like I made the decision too prematurely, and I hadn't tried hard enough. I can't help but feel like a murderer. That facial expression as she went under will probably haunt me for the rest of my life.

Squeaky, I am so sorry. I hope that on some level, you will understand what I did. I miss you so much... you were always there with me, from the time I woke up, to the time I went to bed. I miss your incessant and loud purring. I break down into a sobbing mess whenever I see your favorite toys lying around. I am SO sorry. I only spent four months with you, but it felt like a lifetime. I will miss you for the rest of my life.

I love you. I hope you're happily chasing your tail now, wherever you are, free from bodily disease.

Till we meet again, my tiny little baby.


01/05/09 - 06/19/09, 11:50pm


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