Saturday, September 06, 2008

In Memory of Anastasia

Anastasia was a strikingly beautiful cat. Her fur felt as soft as a chinchillas and her markings were were distinctive. She had a mitten on one paw, and a sock on the others. Her tail was so big and fluffy, everyone commented on it. Her eyes were luminous and full of expression.

A while back she got attacked by a canine of some sort...perhaps a coyote. I took her to the vet to get her fixed up. All seemed well with her many days afterword. She was gaining weight and seemed very fit. Until a few days ago.

I noticed she was sleeping more, but didn't think much of it. She still seemed fine. Then a day or so later she came into my bedroom and I noticed she wasn't breathing well at all. It was very upsetting, especially when I gently pet her and I could feel her back bone. It was shocking how bony she had became in such a small period of time.

When she came into my room I feared she wouldn't make it through the night. I didn't know what to do for her, since I had no clue what was happening. I couldn't rush her to an animal hospital because I didn't have the money to pay their prices, which is highway robbery.

So I sat with her throughout a good portion of the night trying to comfort her. She couldn't find any position that eased her breathing and I knew she was exhausted. I was very surprised that she survived the night and took her to the vet the next morning to end her suffering and put her down.

But when I got there, I had to see if the vet could find out what was wrong with her. I needed to know and weigh out the options. They immediately put her in a box with pure oxygen flowing into it and suggested x-rays to see if her chest had a mass in it. It turned out that her chest cavity was full of fluid, including puss. The pressure all around her lungs and heart were the cause of her respiratory distress.

The vet felt like she might of had a terrible infection as a result of her attack and said they could drain off the fluid, but that if there was infection it would come back and I would have to have her chest drained regularly. The vet said her best chance was to go to a specialist to have a chest tube put in and have her on high powered antibiotics.

They also did blood work to determine what kind of nasty bacteria that was causing the fluid build up. It was determined she had a super bad infection. At that point my only choice would be to send her to a specialist and the money it would cost would be impossible for me to cough up. My vet said there was a good chance that she wouldn't make it anyway, even with a specialist taking over her care. As it was her care already cost 400.00, which was expensive already. I had no choice but to have her euthanized. She died peacefully in my arms.

I brought her body home and buried her here at the house. She grew up here, so I felt it fitting. That was the hardest hole I've ever dug mentally and physically. It took about 2 hours to get it done. I had to bust through a thick layer of rock and clay with a heavy duty pic ax, then switched between busting the rock up and a shovel to remove the dirt, rocks, and clay. Russell came over and dug too for a little while because I was so exhausted I couldn't move my muscles any more. I am so sore I still don't want to move around much. We made the hole almost three feet deep and three feet long.

Russell read a few words he made up for the burial and we all cried until there were no more tears left. This was Ben's first lesson in death and the loss caused by it. He asked many questions and wanted to keep her body. I told him about the process of the body shutting down and the decaying that would happen. I explained that death was a final part of life and that she was gone and not suffering anymore. Ben said she was a good cat and she was.

She liked to play fetch and bring back whatever was thrown just like a retriever. She was also very smart and I could tell she easily figured things out when faced with obstacles, etc...

I'm relieved she is out of her misery and will miss her terribly.

6 comments:

poodlesplace said...

I'm sorry for your loss. Pets are family, it is hard to let go.

Ginny said...

Thanks Poodles. I know a lot of people don't get so attached to animals, but I've always been one to get attached to pets. I did feel like she was part of the family.

Kazim said...

Thoughts on the occasion of Anastasia's death

Tonight we are burying our beloved Anastasia. She was a grey and white cat who has been a member of our family for about four years now. We think she was attacked by a coyote; the vet had to fix up some wounds on her hind end. Unfortunately, she had an infection and got sick from it, and now she's gone.

We found Anastasia, and her sister Lola, as stray kittens when Ben was two. While we were walking home from the park one day, I heard a mewing in the tall grass by the side of the road and went to hunt her down. We found one of the two cats there. I've always thought it was Lola who showed up first, but Ginny thinks it was Anastasia. In any case, Ben followed me while I carried our first kitten home. She had obviously been abandoned there, and probably would have died if we hadn't picked her up. The very next day, Ginny and Caitlin found the other cat close to the same spot.

Early on, it was obvious that both cats were very different. Lola is a very relaxed cat, while Anastasia was more high strung and sometimes standoffish. Often she just wanted to be left alone. However, when she was ready for attention, Anastasia wasn't shy about letting us know. She would jump in your lap or climb on your chair, and demand to be petted. Many times she startled me by jumping at me when I didn't know she was there.

For the first year or so, we kept both cats inside. Later, though, we started letting them roam outside. Both cats stayed close to home at first. Anastasia become much more bold than Lola. She got very good at hunting and killing food for herself, and she needed us less. We started getting worried about her when she disappeared for longer and longer periods. It got to the point where she was gone for weeks at a time, and several times we thought she was lost forever. She always came back in the end, though, and she always stayed for a while and seemed very happy to be home. We thought she might even have another family who spent time with her, but maybe she was just out living in the wild.

Anastasia did not get along with Ben at first. He liked to play a little bit rough, and even though Lola didn't mind, Anastasia sometimes scratched him if he tried to come near. Ben learned to stay away from her for a few years, but in the last few years, he became more gentle, and Anastasia learned to love him. They became great friends. When I was a little kid, our first cat Nepenthe did not like me for the same reasons. Just like Ben and Anastasia, we made up and I loved her until she died at the age of eighteen.

Anastasia was missing for more than a month right before she came home injured. Even though she stayed away for a long time, she still knew that we were her family and we would help her when she was hurt. She lived at home and had to stay inside for the last month, and even though she missed the outdoors, she was happy to be sheltered, fed, and protected. There was no sign that she was in any way uncomfortable until last night, when she started getting sick.

I loved Anastasia. We all did. We didn't want her to be put down, but we knew that recovery would be a long process and she would be in a lot of pain. Her family was with her when she died, and I think she was happy in the last month. We will all miss her, and it's not fair that she died so young. But she was a good cat and she had a good life.

trina corina said...

Sorry for your loss. These little guys just sneak in, curl up and fill all the little empty spaces in your life! It sucks when you have to let one go!

Karen said...

Hi Ginny, I followed a link from PossumMomma's blog and discovered your latest post is such a sad one. I've suffered through cats dying as well, and it hurts differently with each one. I'm so very sorry for your loss.

Ginny said...

Hi Karen and welcome. :)

Thank you for your sympathy. I'm doing pretty well now and not feeling near as sad. Certainly I miss having her around, but at least I don't have to worry about her anymore.

I've had a bit of a rough time for the last couple of years but things are looking way up! Hopefully you won't be reading anymore sad blog posts. :)