Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Dilemma Of Waiting

Dilemma: a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, especially equally undesirable ones.

Unbelievably, my little cat, Eggnog, still clings to life. She is so thin that I fear anyone seeing her might call me to task for abuse or neglect. 
She spent a day upstairs [ Wednesday] curled in her usual spot on the windowsill that looks onto the front porch. She ate perhaps half a teaspoonful of the canned food which I offered. She seemed contented--she's never been a bustling creature. 
Late in the evening she had another of the distressing spells of choking up a white froth, was twitchy and restless. I thought her heartbeat was shallow and too quick. I spread a soft blanket on the loveseat for her and braced myself to sit close by and see her out. She folded herself near me; I gently stroked her head.
After an hour she suddenly hopped down, headed for the stairs. By the time I turned on the light and followed her, she had clambered onto the storage bin where she had spent the preceding 24 hours. I folded a clean fleece for her to rest on, hovered over her until it seemed I really must go to bed. I expected that when I went down in the morning I would find her life ebbed away.

She hangs on--staying downstairs, becoming thinner, if such is possible.  She greets me each time I go down--appreciates being lightly brushed, petted. Sometimes she seems tired, other times she chirps, butts her bony head into my palm, encouraging me to rub along her jaw. Tonight while I was tidying litter boxes, I saw her hop down and drink from the water bowl--tiny, tiny sips. 

I wanted this painful time shortened--for her--and, in truth, for me. I know there is a tendency to attribute human ways to our animals [that lovely word: anthropomorphizing?]  I know I don't have to follow through on this commitment to let her 'die at home' without the stress of the half hour drive to the vet. I can change my mind, have it over.
Part of this is about me, of course--about my reticence in sharing the moments of parting with anyone else, no matter how kindly. I have usually made this 'last trip' with my cats on my own, cat carrier on the seat beside me, fingers of my right hand stretched through the wire of the carrier, to try and sooth the occupant. I can drive while crying!
There have been times I've handled the final moments without breaking down--not making conversation, surely--but keeping my hands on my pet while the merciful needle slips in. Other times, tears have blurred my eyes as I wrote the check at the office desk, I've felt too choked to make much response to the comments of the vet or the assistant.
Eggnog's death, however/whenever, is going to be one of the more difficult ones. 
So, I wait--and I observe--and I feel the sadness of this stretching out. I question my decision endlessly.  I tell myself, 'Surely, tomorrow. Wait for tomorrow.'
There is no indication that Eggnog is in pain. She is fragile, diminished, tired, but still responsive.

The ready tears sting my eyes as I read your expressions of sympathy.  We don't know the cadence of each others' voices--but we recognize the kinships of the heart--the bond of those who treasure animal companions.


  1. As you say Sharon, this isn't going to be easy for you. When dear old Lucky died at home, she just stopped taking her heart pills, and went quietly downhill and we knew the night before she died that death was close, and we had her on the sofa with us, and then left her there when we went to bed. In the morning she had gone. I hope that Eggnog will quietly pass away, or perhaps that you can get the vet out to your house to do the deed and help her on her way. I only wish I was your neighbour and could help in some way, other than reading, with eyes pricking with tears, the other side of the globe. I am with you in spirit.

    If she is not in obvious pain, then perhaps all you can do is to carry on as you have been doing. It is you that is suffering, not Eggnog . . .

  2. Oh poor darling, I know the heart pain of watching a beloved pet fade. The only words I can offer is to wish your dear girl's passing with be peaceful, both for her and for you.

  3. Oh dear Sharon! My heart goes out to you at this time. Parting is such sweet sorrow. I better go or I'll start sobbing.

    Love and hugs to you ~ FlowerLady

  4. I'm so sorry what you and Eggnog are going through, it's never easy, and the longer it takes the harder it gets. Hope for both your sakes that it is soon.

  5. I'm so sorry. It's so hard, as I well remember. Bless you both.

  6. Sharon, i sent you an email. I hope Eggnogs passing is peaceful for you both. Its so lose a beloved pet, and youre in my thoughts Leanne x

  7. Sharon, I feel so much for you and Eggnog. As she doesn't seem to be in pain and is still drinking a little water it would seem that the kindest thing is what you are already doing.
    Taking her to the vet would agitate her and make her end more distressing for you both.
    What more can I say except to wish for peace for you both.
    Hugs from u.k.

  8. I feel for you so much too. In the end, I have erred on the side of putting a stop to my cats' lives before things got too bad. They are such stoics, I think they only complain when things become intolerable for them, so I made the decisions before that time. That's just me though. Much love sent over the pond to you. x

  9. I'm so sorry for little Eggnog and you. I've always loved her name. She has had the best home ever with you. Praying that these last days or hours will go quickly and peacefully for all of you. You're in my thoughts.