Four-Legged Friends: Goodbye Ming


Two weeks ago, my dear cat Ming reached the end of his journey. It wasn’t sudden, and it wasn’t a shock. After all, he was 16 years old. The inevitability of his passing doesn’t mean it was less painful for me. I had him put to “sleep” by a house-call veterinarian, Pawsitively Mobile Veterinary Services. Dr. Michael Gerber has a fully equipped mobile practice, and he comes to you. It is very hard when you’re on your own and you know you have to take your own pet on their last car ride. Holding yourself together long enough to get home afterwards is a huge challenge. I decided Ming deserved to leave this world in his home.

mingMing had a great life. He was loved and spoiled for his first 11 years by a lady named Kit. Kit passed away, and Ming was devastated and confused, and sent to live with some people who had a little dog. That little dog thought it was funny to bark at him and chase him. Eventually they realized it wasn’t going to work out with Ming, and that’s how I ended up with an 11-year-old cat.

Ming was hugely overweight when he came to live with me. It was a challenge getting weight off a senior cat, but he did manage to lose three pounds. He got used to my dog (who doesn’t bark, or chase cats in the house), and he became very attached to me (and I to him). A few months ago, I noticed he was drinking a lot, using the litter box a lot, and sleeping almost all the time. Cats are masterful at hiding illness. That it was obvious something was amiss meant he was probably already quite ill, and I took him to the vet.

Bloodwork revealed failing kidneys — a relatively common problem with Siamese cats. The vet suggested that at his age, and at that level of renal failure, the best course of action was to switch him to canned food (for the added water content) and give him subcutaneous fluids at home. I had never administered fluids before, but I felt like it was something I could do, given that Ming was an agreeable boy and very easy to handle.

I was wrong.

It seemed easy enough: attach the tube to the bag of solution, attach the needle to the tube, pull up a flap of skin on the cat’s shoulders, jab the needle in, and hold the cat while a measured amount of fluid ran under his skin, forming an amusing lump which would then be absorbed by his body, keeping him hydrated and feeling better.

What a disaster! Ming didn’t care for the feeling of the fluids, and trying to hold the needle gently (so it didn’t fall out, or stab through his skin), trying to hold the cat while simultaneously releasing the clip on the tube that stops the fluid from flowing before you’re ready was a lot harder than it seemed when the vet tech showed me how to do it.

After a few treatments, it became clear that subjecting my sweet old man to the treatment wasn’t making his life better; it was just giving me a chance to say goodbye. He couldn’t hold down his food, and all he wanted to do was sleep. I learned a very important lesson too — it’s a bad idea to try to stop a pouch of subcutaneous fluids from spraying all over your living room by using your thumb to stop up the needle. Fingers bleed a lot when stabbed by large bore needles, and it hurts!

I could have kept Ming alive longer. But I am a firm believer that quality of life is more important than length of life. Ming was tired. Ming couldn’t do his favorite thing — eat — without being sick. It was selfish of me to even try to keep him around.

The actual event was quiet and peaceful. Ming slipped from this world to the next with barely a sigh. I held him on my lap, the doctor administered the drugs, and he was just gone. Dr. Gerber and his technician were both very compassionate and kind. I carried Ming to the van, and said my last goodbye.

Ming was truly a gift in my life. The only thing about him that wasn’t perfect was his insatiable appetite and his very loud voice when he started yelling for dinner two hours before dinner time. His chocolate brown face, his piercing blue eyes. The way he liked to rub his nose on my nose. I miss him terribly. I like to believe that one day we are reunited with the pets we cared for while we are alive. And if that’s true at all, then Ming and Kit are together now. And that makes me happy, because I know she adored him, and he had to have loved her too.

That we can say goodbye to our pets when we believe they are ready to go is a blessing. It’s so sad that we cannot give our beloved humans the same peaceful passing when their time comes. I know I would prefer to be with the person I cared for most, in my own home, and have an injection and a speedy passing than to suffer and die inch by inch.

Buck (my dog) and I will be welcoming a new cat into our home in September. We’ve picked one out, but he is too young to come home now. We have loads of time to pick out a name and get ready. The kitten won’t look a thing like Ming, but I hope he has some of Ming’s many charming attributes. It’s so quiet at dinner time now, and I can eat my own meals without Ming trying to steal my food. I’m so grateful that we found each other, and the five years we spent together were great. Farewell, sweet boy. Rest easy.

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avatar Posted by on Jul 14 2017. Filed under Featured Content, Opinion. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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