Susu, one of our cats, has been very ill the last few weeks. It started with sneezing and runny eyes, and progressed to her curled in a corner and refusing to eat and drink. This is an emergency situation for cats, and so the vet was called in. A bit over two weeks ago the vet diagnosed Susu as having a severe upper respiratory infection (sinuses and a touch of pneumonia) and gave us antibiotics and subcutaneous fluids to give her. I was taught how to wield a needle to insert the IV, and we spent a few days nursing her at home.
We had to force-feed Susu, and she’s extremely adept at not being fed. We ended up wearing the food, along with the majority of the liquid antibiotic. She was a perfect angel for the sub-cu fluids, but that wasn’t enough for her. So after a couple of days we took her to the vet again and this time put her under full time vet care.
The vet took over force feeding and IV fluids, along with injected antibiotics. Susu rallied for a few days, getting a bit of energy back, but then collapsed. According to her daily blood workup, her kidneys were shutting down. She stopped meowing (a big deal for a very talkative cat), and stopped taking interest in her surroundings. After a week of full time care, she looked at food and water as if it sickened her, and curled around herself as if in constant pain. At the end of that week, last Saturday, the vet advised us (tearfully) that Susu wasn’t likely to survive more than a day or two. Her breathing had become laboured, possibly from vascular leakage related to her kidney problems. We asked if we could take her home, to make her last couple of days comfortable. The vet thought this was a great idea, but reminded us that she really didn’t have much hope. They left an IV catheter in her so that it would be easy to administer the euthanasia drugs for that nearly-inevitable decision. We made an appointment to bring her back on Monday evening, to end her life and release her from her discomfort. The vet told us to stop forcing anything on Susu, to just enjoy our last few days with her: the only thing we were to do was to continue the IV fluids, and that was not stressful for her at all.
Susu was a sorry sight indeed when she came home. It was a warm day last Saturday, so we took her out in the back yard for a closely supervised outing. I took dozens of pictures, almost certain that these would be the last pictures I took of her. I picked out a tiny handful of the best of those- the ones where she was looking engaged in the world, at least a little bit. Irene and I went through our old picture albums and I digitized a couple of Susu’s kitten pictures from 14 years ago, so we could build a little memory album here on the website gallery.
But she fooled us all. Monday morning she went to her water bowl and drank…all by her self…and drank. She went back a little while later, and drank again. She took a few licks of yogurt from our fingers. And a bit later, a few licks more. This was the first food and drink she had taken willingly in something like ten days. Her breathing became less laboured. We delayed our vet appointment…
Here we are, on Friday. Susu is eating and drinking more or less normally. She jumps up on the counter to get her meals, and meows to demand her share. She’s trotting around the house, wobbly for sure, but with purpose. She’s meowing at my wife and I, curling up on our laps, purring. The vet is amazed: she calls every day to make sure Susu is still progressing. The vets and staff at Central Langley Petcare have been fantastic…they really gave Susu a lot of love while she was there. Maybe Susu was just ready to get better…or maybe coming home gave her something to fight for.
Susu wasn’t supposed to be alive today- maybe she’ll regress in a few more days, maybe she’ll continue to improve. We don’t know- maybe in a few weeks we’ll have some tests done to see how her kidneys are doing. Frankly, I almost don’t want to know- its just good to have her still with us.