This morning I woke up, looked over at Dusty, laying on her small bed not too far away from ours, and pretty much knew this was going to be the last morning I spent with her. Last Thursday we took her to the vet because she didn't look right. She hadn't been eating that much and now was beginning to walk differently — like it was a bit of a struggle for her, a slight limp. The vet told us that her BUN levels were high. So high, in fact, that they were actually off the scale. The tool that they used to read these levels only went to 140, and hers were past that. They then explained a normal cat's levels should be in the 20-30 range.
That probably should have had me worried, but not with Dusty. She's been through a lot in her 17 years, including some surgeries and one time where she threw up a huge amount of blood (that's the time that really freaked me out). I just figured they'd keep her the night, get some fluids in her and she'd be back at home sleeping on my stomach by the weekend.
That never happened. They got the levels down to 83 and that was as low as they were going to go. We picked her up Saturday night and spent all day Sunday with her. We got her some of her favorite food (tuna, of course), put water bowls out everywhere for her and tried to make her as comfortable as we could. It killed me to watch her walk. She'd get up, take a few steps and then would have to sit back down. She did her best, and always made sure to make it to her litter box. I think it was so we wouldn't have to clean anything up, even though she was in so much pain.
Monday, today, we took her back to see what the vet thought was the best thing to do. He gave us a few options, none of which we wanted. We wanted her back. Back to being Dusty. Back to cracking us up and being the sweetest cat you'd ever meet (if she liked you, that is). But, after weighing the options, we decided not to drag it out. We let her go while she still wasn't in too much pain.
Those last moments we spent with her in the small waiting room is something I'll never forget. While Megan and I were petting her, we'd tell her how she had been the best cat ever. Dusty then put her head down on Megan's big ol' belly as if to say to the little boy inside, “enjoy these two parents of yours, you're in for a great ride.”
Then the doctor came in, took her from us, and came back in a few minutes later letting us know that Dusty was gone. Unless you've experienced it, you have no idea how hard that whole scene is. We've tried to keep busy today, but it's not really helping. My mind keeps going straight to seeing Dusty's little scared eyes before our final goodbye.
It's weird, but I've never been this devastated — and it's because of a cat. But I'm beginning to realize, pets really do become part of your family. You see them everyday. You play with them, you feed them, you clean up their poop — they mean so much to the people who really love them like Megan and I loved Dusty.
I've been thinking to myself, saying that I'd never get a pet again. The end is just too tough, but then I think about it more. All of the great, happy times I've had with Dusty outweigh this very, very tough time. It's totally worth it and I wouldn't do a single thing differently.
The guy who coined the dog-related phrase “man's best friend” clearly never had a cat like Dusty. I see you again someday, D. Eat all the catnip you want while you wait for me up there — it's going to be a while.