He started to show some symptoms a few weeks ago - vomiting brown bile (more often than usual) and a loss of appetite. A visit to the vet two weeks ago didn't yield many answers, but he was given a shot and we left with some stuff to treat the possible causes. Over the next week his loss of appetite worsened, an we took him back for an emergency visit last week. Tests showed some slight worsening in some measured items from the previous week - most worryingly, the loss of half a pound - and he also seemed to have developed a cold. He received hydration, and we left with more meds and a plan to monitor and schedule a follow-up.
He got worse in the subsequent days. On Sunday after work I spent several hours holding him as he dozed, listening to his breathing, feeling his heart beat. He seemed weak, but he was still mobile, in his own way, and was able to get around on his own. I repeated the ritual on Monday after work, and while he seemed weaker, he was still able to get around on his own a little. But, unlike the previous evening, he would now groan whenever his position was changed. On Tuesday morning we arranged another appointment for Wednesday, today, my first day off. By Tuesday evening, the last day of my work week, he was weaker still, no longer able to support his own weight, instead lying with his legs splayed out. (We noticed him lying like this on his second visit to the vet.) He wasn't groaning anymore, but instead was exhibiting what seemed to be trembling seizures.
I had a dental appointment Wednesday morning, but when I came home I picked Scooter up and held him again. His breathing was shallower than ever. He was not aware of his surroundings, and was mostly motionless, except for the occasional tremor and "questing" behavior - the sort of behavior animals display when they are looking for a place to die.
It seemed likely that his health was collapsing, that he might not even make it to his 2:00 appointment.
I soothed him as best I could while my mom got ready to head out. I talked to him, and sang to him, and called him by all his nicknames ("Scooter Pie," "Scooter MacGruder," and "Scoot McShmoot," among others.) I recounted for him the story of his life. I told him he was a good boy. I told him we hoped he could stay with us, but if he had to go, that was OK, because we didn't want him to be in any pain. I kissed him dozens of times on the top of his head. I cried, a lot.
He began seizing again, and then questing.
I called my mom over. She wasn't quite ready to go. She petted Scooter and talked to him a bit. Then I told her to finish getting dressed so we could go. It was 1:00. It takes fifteen to twenty minutes to get to the vet's. I didn't think Scooter would make it.
As my mom turned to go, Scooter seemed to watch her, even though I don't know if his eyes were focusing on anything. And then he just...stopped.
I didn't call out to my mom. I didn't yell for Scooter to come back, as I had done when our cat Josie died in my arms fifteen years before.
I watched him for a while. Listened for breathing, felt for a pulse. Blew on his ears. Nothing. He was in my arms, his face near mine. I closed his eyes as best I could.
My mom came back out, ready to go. I told her what had happened.
We headed up to the vet's, now going up to drop Scooter off for cremation. I called ahead as we pulled out of the driveway to let them know that we wouldn't be needing the 2:00 appointment after all.
The vet asked our permission to perform an autopsy. He was curious as to why a cat who, despite chronic health issues, died so quickly while displaying so few symptoms. A few hours later he called with the results: vascular angiosarcoma of the liver. Not much that could have been done, other than surgery and chemotherapy, with a very poor prognosis.
Here are some photos of Scooter through his life:
|July 17, 2007|
|August 25, 2007|
|September 21, 2007|
|Thanksgiving Day, 2007|
|February 16, 2008|
|September 20, 2008|