Thursday, June 14, 2012

Learning how to live with the unknown...


This is Mitten. I adopted him when I moved into my first apartment, over 10 years ago. He was about 3 weeks old. He's an albino white cat who is deaf. The first night I had him, I placed him in the bathroom to spend the night. He cried and cried and cried and being afraid of waking up my roommate I brought him to my room. I placed him on the pillow next to me and he sighed and went to sleep. And that's where he's slept the past ten years.

He's had to adjust to sleeping more in the middle between my husband and me... but he's never really been willing to give up his spot. Until now.

Last Sunday I went into the kitchen to prepare lunch and I saw Mitten sitting strangely against the kitchen doorway. His paws were propping his chest and head and he was rasping for breath. His nose and his ears were blue. I yelled for Michael, who came running into the kitchen. Michael has severe asthma, he has since he was a child and as soon as he saw Mitten's nose was blue, he said, "Get him in the car, we're going to the Emergency Vet. He can't breathe."


This would be my 2nd trip to the Emergency Vet this year. You may remember the story of Buddy from a few months ago. I still think of sweet Buddy on a daily basis. Because the outcome of Buddy's trip to the Vet didn't end on a positive note, I was very apprehensive about taking Mitten. But the poor guy couldn't breathe. 

We took him there, he was still having severe trouble breathing, you could hear crackles and rattles coming from his chest. After tests the vet told us that Mitten had heart damage and fluid in his lungs. He had congestive heart failure. They believed they could start him on diuretic medications and he would be able to breathe better, but he would have to be on medications for the rest of his life and they had no idea how long or short it would be. 

The rug had just been pulled out from under my feet. My Mitten? My sweet loving, cat who was the most affectionate animal I've ever had my entire life, the one who slept with me every night, the one who "hugged" with his little paws, and purred every time I came near. I honestly couldn't believe this was happening. 


They had to keep him overnight to get his breathing under control and to get all the fluid out of his lungs. I picked him up early the next morning and I knew the instant I saw him things were not the same. He just seemed like a very different cat.

We took him to my in-laws to watch for the day, just to keep an eye on him and make sure he could breathe okay. That evening I picked him up and took him home. This once loving, super affectionate, super social cat (at least around us -- not around visitors) is now extremely lethargic, seems very sad, has no interested in attention, affection, food or water.

He's spent most of the past 4 days sleeping in the bathtub. He will sometimes walk down the hallway and then soon return back to the bathroom. He doesn't purr very much. And the poor little guy just isn't very interested in food of any kind or water.

Thankfully Michael is taking him back to the vet tomorrow morning for his followup appointment to see what we should expect from this point forward.


It's been an extremely emotional and hard time for me. This little guy has been a true friend to me and a steady companion as I began my first job, got my first apartment, got married, moved 3 times. He's been there through thick and thin. And he's always been my affectionate, loving, friend. When I needed a hug, when I just needed some encouragement, when I've had down days, he's the furry friend I turned too. It's been so hard to see a very different side of my Mitten.

A cat who no longer wants affection. Who wants to be left alone. Who doesn't feel like purring, or eating, or hugging my arm. I don't know what the future holds for him. I don't know if he has weeks, months, or years left. Learning to live with that uncertainly has been a huge challenge.

My wise friend Pamela gently reminded me last night that I have to accept Mitten where he's at and to allow him to heal, rest, and change at his own pace. I also need to think positive and pray for the very best.

So that's where my heart has been over the past week. My goal for the next few weeks is to live in the right now, accepting today, and not worrying about what will come.


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13 comments:

  1. sending you, Mittens and Michael much love.

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  2. Mittens is beautiful. Sending all of you so much love. Cats are really special to me and I know how hard it is to see your cat going through something like this. Best wishes to Mittens.

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  3. It's always hard when cats get sick. Let's hope that Mitten is just adjusting to his ailment and will come around and be loving again, he still loves you, but is prob trying to deal with his sickness. Will be thinking positive thoughts for Mitten, please keep us posted on his progress.

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  4. Aw, so sorry, Carrie. Saying a prayer for you and Mittens!

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  5. It's not a good sign when they start avoiding your company and sleeping in tubs, litter boxes, or corners. Cats seek to be alone when the end is near. I hope he is able to recover, but be prepared, honey. Hoping your baby is okay, and you too.

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  6. I worked as an RVT in an internal medicine practice for over 10 years and saw many cat's with this heart condition. My recommendation would be see a specialist in your area if possible for an echocardiogram and full cardiac workup. The medical management in these patients is very successful and there is no reason you shouldn't have your old Mittens back with the proper treatment. The reason for his lethargy could be he has become too dehydrated from the diuretics or they may be more underlying issues such as high blood pressure or an arrhythmia, all of which is also easily managed. Good luck but don't give up hope yet!

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  7. I worked as an RVT in an internal medicine practice for over 10 years and saw many cat's with this heart condition. My recommendation would be see a specialist in your area if possible for an echocardiogram and full cardiac workup. The medical management in these patients is very successful and there is no reason you shouldn't have your old Mittens back with the proper treatment. The reason for his lethargy could be he has become too dehydrated from the diuretics or they may be more underlying issues such as high blood pressure or an arrhythmia, all of which is also easily managed. Good luck but don't give up hope yet!

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  8. I'm so sorry. I've been there; I understand. I know how your hear must be hurting. *HUGS*

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  9. *big huge hugs* I so know what you are going through and I hope you get more time with Mitten.

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  10. Paula in Southern CAJune 15, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    My Maine Coon kitty Jesse developed CHF and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy when he was 13 months old. He was given lasix and spent time in an oxygen cage until I could get him to the cardiologist. The prognosis wasn't very good because he had gotten so very sick so fast.

    Jesse didn't listen to his prognosis, because he (and his brother Tristan) will be 10 1/2 in August! Jesse's been on heart meds since that early scary episode, and he's doing well. He gets the meds twice a day, and I watch his breathing carefully, at least once a day.

    Once Mitten's fluid levels are back to normal, he will likely feel better. (It took a few days to find Jesse's correct dose.)

    I'm keeping you in my thoughts! I hope that Mitten will be back to his normal loving self soon. HUGS!

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  11. Sending you love and prayers. Find a cardiologist.

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  12. My dog has been very sick this week. I thought he was going to die! He is my baby (I haven't been able to have kids). He is still not out of the woods and the vet has no idea what is wrong with him - uncertainty. I totally understand what you are going through. I have been a wreck. I will say a prayer for your baby! Hang in there!!! :)

    Karla Diaz

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Sincerely,
Carrie

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