Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Farewell Lump

Yesterday we said goodbye to my little kitty Lump. It is so weird to be sitting here at the computer without her on my lap kneading her little claws into my leg.
We made the tough decision to get her put down after she was finally diagnosed with intestinal cancer. She has been losing weight and vomiting since December - xrays and blood tests previously gave no answers. When I took her back to the vet last week, the vet could feel the tumours in her intestines and in other places too. We took the cat back home and discussed with the children what options we had - do nothing and have her get sicker and die anyway, or put her down now and put her out of her misery. Ryan was the hardest hit - he was overcome by the unfairness of it and just wishes she never had cancer in the first place. Bethany was also sad, but started planning getting a new kitten, while Lump was still alive! Hannah was just supremely confident that putting the cat down was the right thing to do "because then she won't spew on us any more".
We had the weekend to discuss the options and spend some special time with Lump (and clean up a few last piles of vomit for old times sake), and on Tuesday we took her to the vet. All the children wanted to come to the vet. Ryan and Bethany at first wanted to stay in the waiting room, but then decided they wanted to come in. The vet and nurse were very nice and patient, explaining everything that was happening and treating Lump gently and with respect. Although her death was peaceful it was still sudden - the nurse was supporting her as she lay, but she still flopped down lifeless. Ryan and Beth started crying which started me off too. Hannah totally missed that she was actually dead, I realised later when she asked me as we were taking her home "so when will she get dead?".
We had morbidly dug the hole earlier in the day while Lump was with us, but the kids wanted to wait until Paul was there to bury her. He was real impressed with that, not being the best at dealing with death... But we made a little tombstone and said a few nice words about her. Bethany and Hannah both wanted to see her one last time (the vet had wrapped her in a towel and put her back in the cat carrier) so Paul and Ryan moved out of view while we had one last look and pat (and Sophie gave her one last whack for good luck), then we re-wrapped her and placed her in the hole.
We were all pretty sad last night and there have definitely been moments today too. As she had got sicker over the last few months, she had stopped doing a lot of things, and mostly either lay around or meowed at me to feed her (she was slowly starving to death as she was unable to absorb any nutrients due to the cancer and vomiting), so she had been a less intrusive presence in our lives over the last month or so (except the vomit piles of course). She didn't have the energy to jump onto my lap at the computer, or up onto my bed any more. She could still make it up to Ryan's bed, and slept with him most nights (except the one night she slept on Bethany's and vomited on her pillow, the joy).
Ryan is very sad. Many times in the day he misses being able to pat Lump and cuddle with her. He has a hard time at night, when he says he can't stop replaying in his head the moment that her head flopped down and she was dead. I am taking the opportunity to talk to him about strong emotions and how they do fade over time even though it doesn't feel like it at the moment, and also trying to give him some techniques for dealing with that recurring thought or vision. I feel so sad of course that he (and all of us) have to go through this, but I am extremely grateful for it too - I am glad to be able to be having these discussions about an animal and to have them as a point of reference for when a grandparent/great grandparent dies. The circle of life and all that.
He talked about how he's feeling so miserable and he hates how bad he feels. I asked him if he wished we never had the cat, then he wouldn't feel this way, but he said no, all the happy times definitely outweighed this sadness, which is a good way to feel I think.
The photos here are of me, Ryan and Sophie with Lump on her last day. Bethany and Hannah didn't want photos. There is also a photo trying to capture how skinny she was. I was almost afraid to pat her for fear I'd break a bone or something. Tomorrow Ryan wants to look at photos of her as a kitten (he thought she was only grey because she was old). I will probably scan one of those to put up here too. If I was techno-savvy enough I'd have her theme song by Presidents of USA playing in the background of this blog too...

I'm glad my little girl is at peace now, it was awful to see her so weak and unhappy. She was my shadow for so many years, ungraciously putting up with those four scary noisy intruders, and just recently enjoying their company as they grew old enough to treat her with respect and love, always ready to jump on my lap for a cuddle and pat (when there wasn't already a baby there) and just as quick to run and hide when other people were here.

Farewell Lump.


Nana Gabe said...

That is so sad for you guys it made me cry. i know how we will feel when rufus dies
Lump was your first child. Happy travels into a peaceful place. You have handled it well Rachel.

Nicole said...

Oh, I am all teary now.
Goodbye Lump.

Adam and Eva said...

How sad :( Goodbye Lump.