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Choice

You probably should not read this post. It deals with impending death of my pet cat Mist.

The events up to this point:

About a month ago, Mist went through an episode where she stayed under my bed for several days without eating or drinking. She after that she came out and her behavior seemed normal, but she was clearly getting thinner. I resolved to take both my cats to the vet.

They hadn't seen a vet in 13 years. Getting them into the cat carrier back then had been so stressful that it marked the end of their physical trust in me. I didn't want a repeat of that misadventure, so I prepared by bringing the cat carriers in the house, leaving them open, and placing treats in them periodically. This got the cats to become accustomed to going inside them and even resting in them. This worked on the day I took them to the vet, but they've learned their lesson; I won't be able to do that again.

Even before I got them to the vet, Mist had stopped eating again, and rarely drank water.

The vet told me that Shadow, my black cat with anger issues, has a heart murmur, but was otherwise OK. He was actually better-behaved than I anticipated. I let the vet give him a rabies and distemper shot, to avoid any issues should he bite someone (which he's never done).

Mist is quite ill. She has probably has tumors. They took X-rays at the vet, and the side view showed signs of masses. The vet could not be certain, and suggested that Mist get a sonogram. That's scheduled for this Friday. If the sonogram confirms that Mist has tumors, the next step would be give her chemotherapy in the form of a weekly injection.

Since she got back from the vet, Mist hasn't eaten at all. She drank only once, shortly after coming back from the vet. Probably this was because the vet gave her subcutaneous fluids, and that helped her feel better. Since then, nothing.

I spoke with the vet when she called me to go over Mist's blood test results. She has problems with her thyroid and liver. The vet recommended that I give her subcutaneous fluids at home, and to give her a pill (1/8th of a pill, actually) to improve her appetite (it's Mirtazapine, if that means anything to you).

I tried to do this. The first night I was able to get some fluid into her, but it didn't seem to make her any better. Last night I tried again, and she simply would not accept the needle; later I watched a video that showed me that I was holding her wrong, but I'm not sure she'd accept it even if I do it correctly. Today I tried giving her the pill, and she vomited it up immediately afterwards.

I'm not sure that she'll make it to Friday. If she does, I don't know if I want to leave her in the vet's office for hours while waiting for the sonographer to get around to her.

Mist doesn't seem to be in overt pain. She purrs when I pet her. She can still move around when she wishes. She prefers to be in a dark place like my bedroom closet. Her eyes are bright. She pays attention to things that are going on around her. If she's in my bed (I have to carry her from the closet to the bed), she'll snuggle on top of me periodically, presumably for the warmth.

I tell myself that she's made a decision: She'd rather simply pass away than undergo any special medical treatment.

Except that this is a fantasy. She's an animal. She hasn't made a conscious or informed choice. She's feeling bad and doesn't want to be poked or prodded.

I'm the one with the choice, not her. Should I attempt any more medical procedures? If I stop, then she'll die due to lack of food and water long before the pain of the tumors becomes more of an issue.

Should I follow the treatment plan that the vet recommended, in the hope that Mist's appetite would be restored enough to compensate for inevitable reaction to the chemotherapy?

This choice hurts. It's got me to the point where I'm dumping my emotions on LiveJournal to a bunch of strangers, hoping the process of writing will bring me to a resolution somewhere.

My plan for right now: I'm going to try once more time tonight to give her the subcutaneous fluids. If I do it correctly and she's able to put up with it and she gets a bit better over the next few days, I may take her in for that sonogram; there's still a chance that all she's got is an intestinal obstruction. No more pills; all that will do is make her vomit more.

If Mist doesn't accept the fluids, or she doesn't start eating, then I'm going to spare her any more vet visits. There are worse ways to die than refusing to eat. At least she'd be at home, in familiar place, with me nearby.

In other words, if she doesn't get better, then I'm going to accept my fantasy of the choice that Mist has made.

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