Sumi's Last Ride

We had to put Sumi down tonight.

Remember when we had that really cold snap in December? The kittens were inside for that, but one unfortunate "recess" outside, sentenced by my husband for "rough play", saw Nala get sogged by Shiloh in -40. As a souvenir, she got frostbit ears and a cold. Thus, the kittens ended up staying inside for about three weeks. During that time, Sumi became even more reclusive than normal, and in fact at one point, I had to go searching for her since I hadn't actually seen her in a couple of days--she had found a new hiding spot behind my dresses.

It wasn't until the kittens were about to be put back outside, as the weather had warmed up and Nala was pretty much over her cold, that I noticed how thin Sumi seemed to be getting. Then it occurred to me that I hadn't really noticed evidence of her eating or using the litter box much for a while. Maybe a week? I wasn't sure. Hard to tell when she only comes out at night. Was it the stress of having the kittens in the house, or the fact that they ate up the food we had been using for her so we had to switch to what they were eating, or a combination of both?

At any rate, after trying to get her to eat for a couple of days, I googled "will a cat starve itself to death?"

Apparently, the answer is yes.

Amanda M. is a veterinary assistant by training, so I went to her for suggestions. I checked the things she told me to check and found out that it was not urinary crystals, and noticed that she was actually drinking a little, but just not eating. Then I remembered a can of soft food that her previous owner had given me--I had offered it to her before, when we first got her, and she had not eaten it, so I never gave her the other can. At this point, I figured anything was worth a shot, so I opened up the can (room temperature) and offered her a little bit. She ate maybe a tablespoon. But at least she ate! The next morning, she ate about another teaspoon (cold from the fridge). After that, she never ate any more, warm or cold.

According to the internet (which knows everything, don't you, dear internet?) after several days of not eating (some cats are REALLY picky about switching to new food) a cat will start to develop fatty liver disease, and at that point loses its appetite. Some of the suggestions for picky kitties were force-feeding the cat one pebble of the new food, and often the cat will decide it's not so bad after that and chow down. I tried it--didn't work. Maybe she was too far gone by that point, I don't know. Anyway, once they start to get fatty liver disease, there isn't much besides a hefty vet bill that can bring them back from the road they've chosen.

And while I don't want to be a poor steward of what God has given me, a hefty vet bill was not in our future on Sumi's behalf. Honestly, with the psychological problems this cat has, I'm kind of amazed she lived this long--and she's only about 18 months old.

Anyway, it's been a week since she ate that wee bit of soft food, and at least three weeks since I saw her eat much of anything else. She's all bones and fur. She's started puking up bile. She stinks. I can't handle watching her die this slow, painful death, so as I type, Jason is taking her for her last ride.

I'm sad that I couldn't do anything for her. It also broke my heart to coax her to me, the one person she really trusts, so I could put her in a box for her Green Mile. It all seems so wrong--like Frodo coaxing Gollum to follow him and be captured by the Men of Gondor. No one liked Gollum, but that doesn't change the fact that it kind of ruined his chances for redemption forever. I don't even kill bees and spiders most of the time, just capture them and put them outside. (Flies I kill. And mosquitoes. Don't ask for the logic of my justifications, but really--who doesn't think flies and mosquitoes deserve to die? Well, other than the flies and mosquitoes. But I digress.)

Have any of you ever had to "euthanize" a beloved (or at least needy and tolerated) pet? How did it make you feel?