I came home today and my fur baby Skylar wasn’t at the front door sunning himself like he usually does. You see, he crossed over Rainbow Bridge today. Skylar had enough and didn’t even want me to hold on to him this morning. I knew when I awoke that today was the day that I had to help me… cross over that is. How does one make the decision to end a life that one has tried to prolong for so many years? The decision haunts me. Should he have just a few more days? Was there even one more thing that I could do to help him?
I got out of bed and went downstairs hoping that there would be less food in his bowl showing me that he had eaten during the night, but it was not to be. In fact, there were only two small urine balls in his box indicating that he hadn’t even been drinking water. Normally, I had to scoop his box a lot in the morning due to the many times he’d used it during the night. This morning, it was different. I knew he’d not eaten and not drunk water. He was done.
With a resolve that can only come from an inner knowing, I called his veterinary’s office and through tears made a 12:30 pm appointment to put him down. Then I tried to give him some of the meds I had in his little box I kept for such things; I tried a pain pill but it only made him wince. I kept hoping that I’d find something that would encourage him to eat and I’d be able to call the Vet back and say that I was mistaken and he was alright. But it was not to be. It was going to be the end.
I took a walk and asked guidance for confirmation and the same answer came back, “you’ve done all you can. It’s time to let go”. When it was time to put Skylar in his carrier, he was already in there. He had used it for comfort. I had come to leave it on the level by the front door so that he could feel secure. It was kind of cute how he’d sun himself on the pad with the carrier open and then go inside when he’d had enough of the sun. It was a condo with multiple options. Lately, he’d spent a lot of time inside this carrier. It was where he felt safe. His hearing was gone yet he could feel when someone would come into the house as the door opened. Sometimes, as I opened the door, he wouldn’t want to move. I had to laugh as he had his little personality. Yet, too he was always happy to see me when I came home. Now I was ending the life of my little boy that I had come to love and who had become as much a companion to me as I had to him.
And so we left for his last ride in the car. We arrived at the Vet and had 30 minutes together before Dr. Chau came into the room. Again, I asked if there was anything else we could do, to which she reconfirmed what she’d told me the week before; he was in end stage renal failure and had given up eating. He most likely had stomach bleeding, had thickening of the spine, could hardly walk, had bronchitis, as well as the pancreatitis that plagued him his entire life. All around me as well as my own inner guidance had confirmed that it was time yet I still was crying so hard at the thought of ending his life. Yet, I had to. I knew it.
Then the needles came as well as the dreaded end. Once I saw the life leave Skylar’s little body, I realized that I had been in denial. He probably had been trying to tell me that he wanted to leave for a while. He’d been on appetite stimulate for several years, yet I persisted in keeping him alive. He’d been slowly losing weight over the last couple of years.
The pandemic was a bit of a blessing in that I hadn’t traveled in these last six months giving Skylar and I more time together. For several months, I only went out of the house for one hour per day and was available to him when he needed or wanted me. Sometimes he’d come upstairs to my study and just sit near me as I worked. I’d turn around and he’d be there, sitting so quietly. Sometimes I‘d find him in my study when I returned from being downstairs; the little guy knew that at some point he would meet me there. In this sense, he was very patient. I can remember times when I’d be searching the house for him to make sure he hadn’t gotten closed inside a closet or in the garage accidentally only to find that he’d been waiting for me in my study all along. Other times, he would realize that I was on the sofa in my family room watching tv and he’d join me there. When he was awake, which weren’t many hours of the day, he liked to be near me. That is, until the end.
The week before he died, he looked at me like, “help me”, so I took him in to the Vet to find out all the issues that were going on. Whereas he had been holding steady with his renal failure (at Stage 2), he’d risen to Stage 4. Where his weight had held steady at 10 pounds, then down to 8 pounds, he’d fallen down to 7.1 pounds. So in the last 9 months, there had been a huge decline. The 6 months of the pandemic had been his worst period, yet it was the time when I hadn’t traveled and had more time for him. The universe has a way of organizing things for the best.
The last few months I’d been busier with on-line classes and walking outside giving me a more positive attitude, yet I was getting very tired of all the care I had to provide. I was getting caretaker’s burnout. I missed some of his medications. He would come to me and cry – it was time for his fluids. He knew it. He could feel it and so reminded me. It wasn’t that I wanted him to die; I was experiencing adrenal exhaustion and weight gain due to the stress of an almost dying cat, an aging Mom and a brother with cancer. I had done my best, yet I’m second guessing myself now – was there one more pill that I could have given him that would have made a difference. Once I come back into my body I realize that, no, it isn’t possible to play God. The end is the end and all living things have one.
After Skylar expired, the nurse wrapped him in a towel like a mummy but made sure to leave his little head clear. What difference did it make as he was already dead? In my grief, I was thinking that he’d be afraid as he didn’t see well in the dark. One doesn’t think straight at such moments, yet I’m obviously not the only one since this Vet tech knew to do it this way. He was laid in his beloved carrier that had become his safety net, put in my car and then taken to a crematorium nearby. Driving home with the carrier empty, crying the whole way, was very difficult.
Once home, I began the task of cleaning up the house. It isn’t that it was necessary right at that point in time; it was more a way to busy myself to not think so much. Looking at his bowls, his litter boxes and all his toys on the floor were too painful. Cleaning it all up took time and gave me a chance to zone out. Then I went to bed early sure that I could hear him walking around the house.
The next days and weeks will be mourning his loss and remembering all the cute things he did when he was feeling better. I began to realize that when one sees a loved one on a daily basis, the declining health they experience isn’t always seen by the caretaker. I hadn’t realized how much Skylar had declined. I had been in denial.
How will I remember Skylar? When my other cats died back in 2011-2012, I hadn’t planned to get another cat. I felt a pull to look online at rescue cats and found Skylar. He was a big guy at 12.6 pounds and had been told that he was an over eater. I ignored the naysayers and adopted him anyway stating that he just needed to be loved. And love him I did. Within six months, by following me around my three-level townhouse, he was a more normal 10.5 pounds. I feel that he’d been mis-treated when young since he had trouble trusting me for the first year or so. Eventually, he came to sit with me on the sofa and our love affair began.
Skylar had a very sweet nature and loved anyone who would pet him. He was crazy about his pet sitters, which helped me a lot as I travelled several times per year. Once he fell ill with renal failure and pancreatitis about three years after he came to live with me, (now five years ago), my caretaking began. I went to heroic measures to compound medications for him as the standard dose overwhelmed his sensitive body. His Vet was always amazed at what I was doing. I have been recording videos over the last year of just what I did for him and plan to put together a You Tube Channel to help other pet owners in Skylar’s memory. I had gotten five years out of a cat that was only supposed to live for two after falling ill.
For now, this is what I have to say about Skylar’s passing. Over the next few days, I will pick up his ashes, write and carry out a fitting funeral for a wonderful guy. He was my little fur baby. I miss him so much and feel his energy around the house. Am I crazy to hear, “Mommy, don’t cry. I’m ok. I can play with other cats here. “I hope he’s at Rainbow Bridge and maybe, just maybe he’d found my other cats and now enjoying activities that he was never able to do here. He was never able to play outside.
“Skylar, Mommy loves you. I hope you’re ok. I hope you’re no longer in pain; that you can run and play and have fun”.
P.S. If you have a cat with Chronic Renal Failure and Pancreatitis, stay tuned for the Skylar Channel on You Tube which I will be creating in the near future.