The hardest part of loving an animal is having to say goodbye. We experienced this extremely difficult goodbye firsthand just 2 weeks ago and it was one of the hardest days of our lives.
Max was seemingly healthy, eating, acting like himself just a day before we ended up rushing him to an emergency vet where he had fluid drained from his lungs and a tumor was detected and biopsied. Thankfully we were able to bring him home the following day with instructions to monitor his breathing and continue his steroids. He seemed to be back to his Mr. Max ways except he wasn’t eating nearly as much. Two days later we woke up to Max being unable to walk on his front right paw. Another trip to the emergency vet and we were sent home with pain meds and antibiotics in an effort to keep him comfortable until we found out the results of his tumor biopsy. After a long weekend of what wasn’t a great quality of life, including lots of laying around (mostly due to the pain meds) and syringe feeding that he was not a fan of, we found out that he had lymphoma. And an aggressive lymphoma at that. It was more common for younger, positive cats to get but nonetheless our negative boy had it at 12 years old. We started chemo treatments as we were hopeful, after meeting with the oncologist, that he could possibly bounce back and we could have a few good months or even years with him.
Fast forward another two days Max vocally refused his syringe feeding and was clearly in pain, crying out, laying on our bathroom floor. I gave him some pain medicine, brushed and loved on him, and then we all said our normal I love you’s and goodbyes, including snuggles and hugs from the kiddos, as my husband left for work and I took my son to preschool. As soon as I got home from drop off I put my daughter in her highchair for a snack and ran up to check on Max. To my surprise Max was laying on his side and seemed to be taking very infrequent, sharp breaths. In a panic I called my husband who attempted to calm me down and told me to just hold him. As I held my boy I continued to tell him I was with him and I loved him and in a matter of minutes, maybe even seconds, he was gone. I was in shock and I’m still in shock that just over a week timeframe my big healthy boy was actually gone. We were told to take things “week by week” not “day by day” but cats are tough and are excellent at hiding their illnesses. It seems as though Max was one tough guy and didn’t show any signs or symptoms until his cancer was too far progressed, he even fooled the experts just 2 days before he passed.
As difficult as that morning was, I am beyond thankful that he waited for me to get home and that I was able to be with him in his final moments. I just hope he knows I was there and how much I love him.
Over the years Max was not the easiest cat, he was scared of just about everything, most people, moving children, loud noises, the bathroom fans, blow-dryers, you name it. He was also a high stress kitty and when he would get stressed he liked to pee on anything and everything. But as most who love animals understand with the difficulties came wonderful qualities. Max loved greeting us every morning with never-ending conversations, he always made sure the monsters under the sheets didn’t get us, and he shared lots of warm cuddles and purrs. He was a very loving cat to those he trusted the most. He even turned a few non-cat people, who had the pleasure of getting to know him, into cat people. We couldn’t have loved our “big handsome devil” more.
As we continue to grieve the loss of him, a good friend of mine reminds me to remember the good. The good times we shared with our Max and the love that was shared between us. He will forever be in our hearts and will always be a cherished member of our family.
In sharing this difficult time in our lives, we hope that we reach anyone else grieving a pet so they don’t feel alone. There are others out there that not only love their animals but also deeply greive them too. We hope that you can also remember the good and try not to focus on those final moments, days, or weeks that were most likely the sad. An animals love is one of Gods beautiful gifts to us, even though the goodbyes come way too soon. So although my first inclination was “I can never go through this again”, I hope God will bless our family with another furry member that we can share cherished memories and unconditional love with forever and always. AND we know there are so many deserving animals out there that would love to be part of a family.
Sending healing thoughts and sympathy to all that are in need of some ❤
Rest in peace our sweet, wonderful, Mr. Max.