I had planned on blogging sooner, but, as those of you who keep up with me on Twitter know, our beloved Maarge has been really ill.
It started last week. All of a sudden, as I was leaving the house to take the kids to school, Maarge flipped over on her side, started foaming at the mouth, and seemed to be struggling over and over again to get up. When she finally got up, she just stared blankly for about 20 – 30 seconds. I dropped the kids off at school and immediately called the vet. They told me to bring her over as soon as possible.
Maarge was happy at the vet, purring too loudly for them to check her heart. So they had to take her to another room. And I sat alone in silence.
When they returned with her, she came right up to me and (this cat-who-doesn’t-kiss) kissed me delicately just below my lower lip.
After that vet visit, which ended optimistically because of Maarge’s happy mood, everything went downhill. What followed was seizure after seizure — each one more aggressive and violent than the last. It was horrific, disturbing and messy. And on top of it all, I was struggling with a brutal cold, Josh was away, my parents were away, and the kids were sick. I can’t believe I got through that madness.
For the next two nights I didn’t sleep because Maarge kept having seizures beside my bed, under my bed, around my bed. I waited patiently through each one to see if she would survive, watching and waiting as she stared, drooled, foamed and urinated.
When I talk to people about this, they often tilt their heads, look at me with sympathy, and ask, “Do you think maybe, I mean, I know it’s hard, but do you think you should maybe put her down?”
And you know, I asked the vet the same question. The morning after that first all-nighter with Maarge, I took her to the vet with the expectation that this might be it for her. But they said no. At her age (almost 16), it’s likely she has a brain tumour. So we could put her through exhaustive tests — MRIs and cat scans (ohh, I just got that terrible pun now…) to get to the bottom of this. But that’s not the goal. If they were to find a tumour, would we operate on her at her age? No. All I want to do is stop the seizures. I want to see her get fat, for once, sleep, purr, and just go in peace.
Yes, my goal right now is to let her die with dignity. It could be a week from now; it could be two years. My meticulous Maarge (it’s really spelled MAAARGE! but I’m so tired…) doesn’t deserve to die a mess like this. Although she’s ravenous and lethargic from the anti-seizure medication I now have to give her around the clock (until her every-12-hour pill kicks in), she’s beginning to clean herself again, she’s started lifting her head and trilling again when I walk by her, and she’s purring. As long as she’s happy, she’s not going anywhere.
Maarge has been my pretty, creepy little shadow for all these years: through university, my engagement, marriage, my crazy pregnancies, my children, new jobs, new homes, new cats, old cats, new dogs. Watching. Witnessing it all. And when I’m away from her, I see her in the shadows, creeping around in my peripheral vision. I hear her purring and trilling.
She’s the first pet I got on my own; I took her with me to university in London, Ontario, the first day I got her. She’s been a key character in this blog from the beginning. So you know, losing her is hard.
For now I’m going to spend any energy I can spare giving back to her for all she’s given me. Which means wiping her down even though she gets uncharacteristically ornery!
And look, she’s looking straight at the camera for the first time, maybe ever (I just took this photo this evening)….