I had to say goodbye to Widget today. He's been such a part of my life for so many years that it's hard to even think of him not being around anymore. I miss him so much already.
Widget had much the same trouble that Gadget did a few years back: his kidneys gave out on him. The big difference is that Gadget was only two years old when that kind of thing is rather unusual. Widget was well into his 14th year which isn't super old for a cat but not young either. It's certainly an age at which this kind of thing is much more common. Of course this doesn't make it any easier to take (or any easier on him, for that matter). But at least he had a good and reasonably long life. I know I will cherish many memories of the time we had together.
His appetite and activity level started to taper off a month or so ago and he started dropping weight. I figured he was just getting older and starting to slow down. It was a gradual thing and not really an abrupt change. But after awhile he did start to seem kind of weak and not doing well, so I made an appointment for the vet to see him at the end of last week.
His condition really took a nose dive over the course of the week. he started missing jumps that he could usually make and overall slowed down dramatically. The vet ran some blood work which came back on Saturday. His kidney levels were way, way up and he was quite anemic. So, Belinda and I checked him into an emergency clinic for the weekend to receive IV fluid treatment. The hope was that the treatments could bring the levels down to the point that his kidneys could hopefully catch up and restart themselves.
One of the vets at the emergency clinic turned out to be a friend of mine from high school. It was at least nice to see a familiar face. I also gave Lissa a call to let her know what was going on as Widget is still very much her cat, too.
They tested Widget at the emergency clinic again on Monday morning to see how he was doing. His kidney levels were down a little but still very high out of the normal range. Meanwhile, his anemia had worsened a bit. Apparently the kidneys are also in charge of secreting the hormone that causes the production of red blood cells. With his kidneys so diminished, that simply wasn't happening. But his general observable condition had improved. He was eating again and seemed to have a bit more energy.
At that time I made the decision to transfer him to my regular vet to continue fluid treatments for a few more days. Given the test results, I wasn't expecting a long term recovery, but I hoped that his kidney levels would drop some more and that he could be comfortable enough to come home to spend at least a few days or a couple weeks.
He made some good progress at first. The vets all commented on his personality (he sure had plenty of that) and chattiness. I visited him on Wednesday morning before I went into work and he seemed to be a little brighter and more active. The plan was that they'd take another blood sample that evening and see where we stood Thursday (this) morning.
I received the call from the vet this morning, and the news was actually a lot worse than I hoped even though I wasn't expecting it to be good. Basically, his kidney levels had come down a tiny bit more but were still well out of range and his anemia had worsened to a dangerous level which would call for a transfusion. He had also lost his appetite and begun slowing down again--even under treatment.
Taking him home in this condition was no longer a good option. If his condition was deteriorating with fluid treatment, he surely would only deteriorate even faster at home without it. I made the painful and tearful decision to have him put to sleep in the evening after I left work. I let Lissa know what was going on so that she could be a part of the decision and be here if she wanted to be. I also let Belinda know so that she could be a part of it, too.
Belinda and I met Lissa and Heath at the vet's office this evening about 6:30. We all got to spend some final time with Widget over the next 30-45 minutes or so. We could all tell that he wasn't feeling too great, but he was also as active as he could be and very much still being...Widget. He was so curious about whatever was going on outside the room and migrated toward the door every time it opened. Such a cat.
It was both wonderful and painful to see him. Even with such diminished capacity, he was still very much the cat I've loved for so many years right up to the end. I'm so glad I got to be with him one last time, but he also showed me so much of what I'll miss not having him around. We all cried. I'm teary just typing this. Finally, we decided it was time and had the vet come in. Widget passed quickly and quietly.
I love you, Widget. You were a great cat! I'm sorry you had to go and that there wasn't any more that I could do for you. But I am so happy that you were a part of my life.