Friday, February 7, 2020

Goodnight, Sweet Spartacus Jones

This is going to be a long, hard blog. Am I feeling sorry for myself? Absolutely. But as all blogs I write of my pain, I am hoping someone else can learn from them. Like a friend pointed out, she lost her dog due to kidney failure, and she would have liked to know what she should have looked for.

We put Spartacus Jones down today. This is where I purge my grieving heart and tell you what to look for when your pet starts suffering kidney failure, and what you can expect when you have to put them down.

I think it was a week ago, that he started vomiting a little. Not a big deal...maybe a hairball? But there was nothing in it. I happened twice more in two days. I still wasn't alarmed, but I started keeping an eye on it.
Suddenly, my little piggy, the cat that ate everything and asked for more wasn't eating. He was still excited at dinner time, but he would sniff at his wet food, and walk away, prefering to lap at the water dish.

This set off alarm bells. My cousin had a Siamese who died from kidney failure. The first thing she noticed was that he drank A LOT of water. Spartacus was good about drinking water, but he never missed a meal. And he most certainly didn't prefer water to food. Off to the vet.
They weighed him, did some tests. Showed us some scary numbers. Something was definitely wrong. Funny thing we hadn't noticed....He'd lost an entire pound since December. That's bad.  But we'd been told to put him on a diet, and we limited his food supply. We thought our efforts were working. I can't pretend that I understand all of the stats, but I quickly figured out that if a BUN should be at ten or twelve then a FORTY TWO was not good! There were other numbers--Creatine was at 710, when it should be at 212 at the most. Phosphorus was at 4.75 when it should have been around 2.65.

I didn't want to take him to the south end clinic over the weekend. That clinic has a shitty reputation for putting pets down regardless. Thankfully, they gave us another option, and my husband and I stepped up.

This meant six different ways to the cure. It meant two different probiotic powders to be delivered by food, two doses,-24 hours apart of a digestive half of a pill that he fought tooth and nail and wouldn't eat even via treats, a syringe of digestive painkiller that he also managed to fight off, eye drops that pissed him off that he also fought vigorously against, and lastly, the saline treatment. He was great about those, and didn't fight them, but I had to learn immediately how to poke a needle into his flaps of skin and we had to keep him calm while 150 milliliters of saline solution went in. Twice a day. We got up early to do it before work, and did it again around dinner time. For three days. I can tell you that was not fun, but we would do anything to help him, and he was a really good boy about that. I'm proud of myself and my husband and Spartacus too. It was awful, but we did whatever it took. Back to the vet for another treatment.

     The worst part of this? I did this all to make Spartacus well. I know full well that TRUST is everything to a cat. Trust is equal to love. When a cat gives you that slow blink? It means, "I trust/love you so much. I can take my eyes off you and know you'll never hurt me." He no longer trusted me. I did all of this to heal him, and he started to dread my presence.

Vet calls for another treatment., with a urinalysis.We agree to bring him in again, as early as possible.

     But in the time between getting Spartacus home, and the appointment, Spartacus started to breathe very heavily. It started by him still not eating. I watched him, and noted that I could actually see his pulse rippling over his skin. This looks bad. What do I do? They're closed, and the only vet hospital open in the one I fear, the one I'm afraid to trust. I camp in the basement with Spartacus Jones and watch. He eats a tiny bit, and retreats to pulsate. I wake Dan, and he thinks we should wait. Maybe it's just because he has so much saline in his skin that it's just his body processing so much solution? He'll go to vet soon. He'll be okay.

     His appointment is at 8:40, but I don't care. I've been up for a few hours, and I need them to check him out NOW. Then I leave for work, secure in the knowledge that they'll fix my boy.

     Our vet, Dr, Kelly called me at work around eleven a.m. She needed to speak to me about 'options'. Luckily, I had few jobs to do that day, and I could be there by 12:30.
     There were no options. She'd spoken to as many specialists she knew of, and the result was the same. There was talk of cancer. If we kept treating the kidneys, his lungs will fill with fluid, because he had heart congestion. If we treated the heart and lungs, it would destroy his kidneys. Spartacus would die, no matter what happened , no matter what we did now.

     Maybe I should have had him put down then. Dan was already on his way, after talking to Dr. Kelly. Maybe I should have saved Spartacus some suffering, but I didn't want him to die there, in a place that had caused him so much pain and aggravation. He hated that place and had made at least three escapes from the cat carrier. My vet gave me numbers, so that I could arrange for Spartacus to die at home.

     Only 'Wellnes's had the time to do it within 48 hours. We made an appointment for 11 a.m. today, and they were sweet and sympathetic. Even at the very end, Spartacus approached the stranger, with her gear of medicine and needles, with sweet eyes and a hope for cuddles. Kelsey pet him, and told him he was a beautiful cat. She told him she especially loved his adorable nose spots.

I held Spartacus in my arms, while Dan looked him in the eyes an told him what a pleasure it was to love him. Spartacus died with his eyes open. From the time she administered the injection, I felt three heartbeats thump through his body, and then he was still. I didn't let go yet. It was the last time I would ever hold him, so I wanted to make it last.

We brought his body upstairs to tell Freya. They told us we need to make her understand what was happening, but while Spartacus was dying, she was trying to get outside. We brought him upstairs, and let her smell him. Her eyes went wide, and she recoiled. It looked like "What the fuck?!"  Dan went to pet her and she hissed at him. I don't blame her. Now she's trying to comfort us with cuddles and purrs, but she doesn't look at either of us. She's wearing a strange look that looks like a human version of shock. I think it's occurred to her that her pain in the ass is gone, and she's the only cat in the house. I'm not sure she's comfortable with that after all, even though she wasn't fond of him.

As painful as this is. It was the right thing to do. I suppose I'll we'll always wonder if we could have done more, but according to my vet, we really did do everything. I don't regret the cost. I just regret that Spartacus suffered and all of that time and money was pointless.

As I'm writing this, Dan and I are talking about how guilty we feel....we're relieved that he's not suffering, and that he went without strife, no foaming at the nose and mouth, leaking from the anus, twitching or any other kinds of ickiness
death things that one could have expected.. He simply relaxed and found the sleep he so desperately needed. We think he was relieved.

If you have questions, I'm happy to answer them. I want my experience to be helpful. For example: Someone on my Facebook page suggested pumpkin, among other things, and I'd like to pass on the information if I can.

Please be kind. I've lost the love of my life, and my husband has lost his best friend.
Thanks for letting me purge. I don't know if this blog will help anyone, but I feel a bit better. Not that this is not exceptionally painful, but I need you to know we adored him. That we exhausted all means to save him, and we still lost him. It was my birthday two days ago, and I wished for a healthy cat. Too bad the universe doesn't care what day it is when death is the plan.

I have one regret...As hard as it was for us to let Spartacus Jones go...I wish we would have saved him the suffering and done it sooner. I wish he didn't have to heave and struggle to breathe overnight. I should have realized he just needed it to end.


  1. Thank you for sharing this Donna❤ you are an amazing pet owner and he came to you for a reason and I know the time he had with you, it was the absolute best place for him.

    1. Thank you <3 He asked to stay, and it wasn't hard to comply. He gave us seven years of his sweetness. He was a fantastic cat, and we wanted to do right by him. Thank you <3

  2. Wow, this opened up some wounds that have had a hard time healing. I feel so much for you right now.

    As you know, I went through the same thing with Pepper with the pills and saline. She wasn’t eating and wasting away. I called Dr. .... Oh, I can’t remember his real name anymore. I call him Dr. Kevorkian. After he administered the meds, I mentioned that some animals fight it and have adverse reactions because of it. She fought it. Fiercely. And the adverse reactions was something I do not wish anyone to EVER have to witness. I felt like, still feel like, a murderer. She didn’t want to go and that has haunted me since.

    Sounds like Spart was ready. Find solace in that. You did the right thing at the right time.

    Love you. Thinking of you.

    1. Oh Hell....I remember your loss CS <3 God, that was awful...I remember your loss with Pepper. I;m sorry to remind you of her.

      We're actually okay in a weird way.l It hurts, but my God, CS he was done. It was actually awful to make him live.