You’re in the foster room on the floor above my office catching the last few rays of sunshine as you rest in the little cubby on the cat tree. I imagine your respirations, too fast for normal, a bit shallow. Your tail lays limply, instead of flicking back and forth. You’ve been sick with something for months and it’s robbed you of the use of your back legs and now your front are gone, too. We’ve done so many tests on you, with most of them coming up negative or normal, only to find a hint of the horror you may be facing is FIP after all. Feline Infectious Peritonitis—a fatal disease.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Fred catching the last rays of sunshine.
I’ve never fought so hard to save a cat’s life. I’ve never reached out to so many Veterinarians, Specialists, anyone who might be able to help you. I’ve never worked so hard to raise money to make sure we have whatever we need, so we can provide for you—no matter what the cost.
I’ve been anxiously waiting for each result, praying it wasn’t FIP. There were MANY tests that said there was NO WAY it could be what we feared most, but one did point a bloody finger…a very high protein level in your spinal fluid…and that may be the only clue we ever get from science. The rest of the clues are witnessed in your weakening physical condition.
You’re just a baby, Fred. You’re only 10 months old. I know we lost your siblings, Pebbles and Bam-Bam a few days after they were born, but I never thought you or your brother, Barney were at risk, too. Please tell me if I did something wrong-or made you get sick! Did I cause you too much stress? Did one of the other foster cats in your room expose you to something that they were immune to? I didn’t think I waited too long to get you to the Vet, but maybe we were too slow to do tests, fearing the costs? I feel like I’ve let you down, Fred and I hate myself for that. I will never forgive myself for your death and I know you’re going to die. I'm so VERY SORRY, Fred. I know it won’t be much longer now.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Our Fred.
The treatment we hoped would work has done nothing other than make you gag when I give it to you. The steroids don’t make you hungry or feel any better. I keep thinking that I can’t give up on you. I just can’t, but now I see you barely able to sit up and I think, why am I doing this to you? Is it fair to let you be this way? You’re still “Fred,” in so many ways, but now I’m faced with the worst thing I will ever deal with and that is choosing when to end your life.
It’s so against what I have devoted my life to-saving lives, not taking them. I know that if you were in a shelter, they would have put you down a long time ago. I know if you were still living in that terrible place where we rescued your mom, you’d have died a long time ago there, too. You can’t expect to live in filth with little or no food and no vet care and survive very long. I know that you’ve probably lived with me longer than you would have lived anywhere else-even if you’d been adopted because I doubt anyone would not go to work so they could stay home and syringe-feed a kitten or spend thousands of dollars in Vet care for a possibly hopeless situation, so maybe that’s the meaning of this journey?
You didn’t get adopted months ago, when you had an adopter come see you because you were supposed to stay with me. I just don’t want to know what my lesson is in all of this because if it’s that cat rescue means euthanizing cats, I honestly don’t know if I am capable of doing that.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney fussing over his brother, trying to get him to play again.
I love watching kittens take their first steps and be part of introducing them to the world, but if it means I have to take the life of a precious kitten before he even has the chance to see his first birthday, I just don’t know if I have what it takes.
Dear Fred-I love you so much. You were so charming and carefree. You amazed me at how high you could jump and how much you loved to chase those feather toys. I’ve known you since the day you were born and I’ve looked out for you all these months.
I know I can’t fix what’s wrong with you. I can syringe-feed you, try to keep you clean and dry, since you can’t make it to the litter pan any more. I can brush you and speak sweetly, encourage you to be strong, while I try to be as gentle with you as I can.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.
I will never forget you, Fred. I know that one day we will do something very special in your honor because of the big impact you made on all of our lives. I hope your journey to the Rainbow Bridge is as beautiful as I can make it and that one day I will see you again.
Robin (and your daddy, Sam, too)