Monday, October 01, 2012

Cats Dealing with Death

Cats deal with cat death differently than we do. Dying cats tend to isolate and the other cats tend to "cut the ill one out" of things. Not meanly, but just as a matter of course. The sick one doesn't participate much, and the others fill the void. They just move into the empty space.

Right now, I'm losing one of my cats. Fluffy has CRF (chronic renal failure) and she is dying. We keep giving her fluids, but she isn't strong enough for dialysis. She won't be. She's too far gone. But she's alert, and interested in things going on around her for the most part.

She sleeps in the main room, opening her eyes and gathering comfort from the noises and activity around her. When she wants to be involved, she gets up and gets involved. She even plays a little bit when I bring out the toys.

I give her "baths" with a wash cloth, My vet taught me how to do it, with a corner of a wash cloth dipped in hot/warm water and wrung out so it's only damp. The heat is more important than the wet. I run my fingers with the cloth over an area and then stop. She seems to like it. She doesn't even wash behind me. And it does seem to keep her cleaner.

She came up on the bed last night and got some snuggles. Later, I woke, she was gone and another in her place. They all know she's dying. Even Fluffy knows it, I think. She is slowing down, and just not ready to say good night for the last time yet.

So, my sweet girl is leaving me. I knew they would all leave me eventually. They are all about the same age - about 10-12. It just happened that way. But to have the first one be Missy Flufferdoodle -- it's hard. She's always been so sweet and loving. Kind of stand-offish, but not, and always ready for snuggles and food. She masticates fingers with her kisses. She's always had problems with the mats and grooming herself, but she's always been patient when it was time to groom or cut off the mats, too. And she's always been ready to play. She's never had a problem with the others, and they never had a problem with her. She was just happy to be out of that cage and have a home.

CRF isn't contagious. It has to do with body chemistry and stuff. It's the kidneys having trouble with cleaning the blood. Sometimes it happens because of the breed of cat; sometimes because of weight issues, and Fluffy has been heavy; and it can happen because of heart issues and holding or losing fluids in the blood, like hypertension and heart disease.

Older cats are all at risk for CRF, so if you see any difference in your cat - drinking more or less, weight loss, or anything out of the ordinary, have it checked. The tests aren't expensive, and it could save your cat for years to come. If your cat develops CRF, you, too may have to go through this part - the end-stage of CRF, with your cat.

A soft place to sleep, and gentle handling. Love and comfort. Your cat will tell you when she's done. They always do.


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