I can tell that it’s almost time to say goodbye to my beautiful girl; my precious Judas that has been with me since I first laid eyes on her almost 18 years ago when she was a little red tabby kitten. I found Judas with her brother, whom I eventually named Hercules, and several other litter mates playing in my backyard one summer day. These little babies were so cute, but fortune was to give me just the two. The others went different ways. Hercules and Judas were named for being brave and for being sneaky. The names just popped into my head as I played with them over the summer until they became friendlier and lost some of their original feral behavior.
And the years passed. Hercules was part of the family for almost 17 years when he succumbed to chronic renal failure last April. Judas, on the other hand, has hardly ever been ill, or even needed to go to the Vet other than for routine visits. She’s been such a good girl over these many years. Right from the beginning, she looked towards me for protection. I remember once when her brother was picking on her and she jumped into my lap and wagged her tail as if to say, “Ha, now you can’t get me!” Even now, she comes to tell me when she wants more food or when her pain is getting intolerable.
You see, Judas has been diagnosed with a kind of cancer of the mouth. It all started in early December when one of her big teeth fell out. I didn’t think much of it; I took her to the vet, got antibiotic, came home and let her eat what she wanted. She didn’t seem to lose her appetite even though without her big front tooth it was more difficult to eat. But the empty space didn’t heal; in fact, the whole got bigger… a lot bigger. By the time I went back to the Vet about 4 weeks later, several more teeth fell out and there was a huge hole in her mouth. That’s when I was told of the diagnosis – squamous cell carcinoma or oral cancer. In addition, the left eye was shifting. There’s something called a third eye lid that can come down. Sometimes it shifts back by itself, but not in this case. Because the cancer is eating away at the jaw bone, the eye socket is weakening and the eye is literally shifting. Poor Judas can barely see out of that eye. Ok, so one eye is enough right?
Well yes, but I’m also told that there’s lots of pain this this type of cancer, so I’ve been giving Judas lots of pain meds…. Very expensive pain meds I might add. Of course, she’s worth it, but I started to wonder if the medication was just covering up a cat that was ready to let go and I was keeping her here. Much like putting someone on pain meds to keep them alive in the hospital when their bodies are racked with cancer. Wow… it’s the same thing.
Like many pet owners who adore their fur babies, I spent many hours researching this disease on the internet, ordering supplements, Chinese medicine and any nutritional concoction that might help Judas. I set up a vitamin container that I got from the local pharmacy, the kind with multiple bins for each day with flip lids so that I could prepare a week’s worth of her regimen at a time. For the last few weeks, Judas seemed to be stable and I was very happy… and perhaps a bit proud. I was going to beat this thing. Beat death? Denial? Yeah, I guess so. For in the end, the Chinese medicine billed to stop bleeding did so for a few days, but the bleeding is back today with a vengeance.
I thought I might get another month for Judas, but as of tonight I’m not so sure. She’s had a good life. She’s been loved as much or more than is possible to love anyone or anything and she’s loved me in return unconditionally. Up until a few days ago she was still jumping on the bed and sleeping next to me. Now she’s staying closer to her little beddy although she still can walk around the house. I knew that when the right time came I would know and I’m starting to feel that it may be time to say good-bye.