As I mentioned before, Katrina had been sick for a little while. She had stopped eating and was throwing up a lot several months ago, but I got some anti-nausea medicine from the vet and that seemed to take care of the problem. She’d lost weight, wasn’t eating as much, and she just wasn’t herself, but they couldn’t find anything else wrong so we just chalked it up to her getting older and her appetite and attitude changing.
Even though she had gone back to eating mostly normally, she continued to lose weight. I got her some supplements to help her put on weight, fed her extra meals, and asked about it at the vet. They said I could bring her in some day and just put her on the scale to check her weight. So I brought her in one afternoon in mid-December, and asked if maybe while we were there, the doctor could just take a look at her again. This time… the vet noticed something. There was some kind of mass in her abdomen. It wasn’t there when she’d been to the doctor a few months before, but just as a cat’s lifespan is compressed compared to a human’s, things that could take months to develop in a human could develop in weeks in a cat. They referred us to a specialist for an ultrasound to see what it was and figure out next steps.
A couple days later, we took Katrina for her ultrasound. They shaved her entire belly and a good portion of each side. The vet there came back and gave us the news: she had the feline equivalent of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a tumor, her liver and kidneys were enlarged, and she had fluid in her chest. Treatment would be chemotherapy, but the chances for success were not good, and even if the treatment were successful, the cancer would come back. GG and I talked about it, and decided not to pursue this treatment, and instead keep her as comfortable as we could for as long as we could. We spoke to our regular vet later that day and she confirmed that that would be the best thing to do (in fact, she didn’t even mention going forward with any other treatment).
So we tried to enjoy Katrina as much as possible over the holidays. The nice thing was that GG and I were home a lot, so we could be with her and keep an eye on her. She went downhill pretty quickly, though. She’d already not been herself, but it got worse. She slept in random (seemingly uncomfortable) places, she couldn’t jump up onto furniture anymore, she ate less and less (despite drugs to help her appetite), her weight continued to drop (petting her was basically like petting a spine with fur). The vomiting had pretty much stopped at this point, but the amount of bloody diarrhea went way up. So we got other drugs to help with that, and they worked, but she continued to avoid using the litter box. Then I guess the fluids in her chest kicked in and she started sneezing and wheezing. It was all the time, but especially when she ate or drank (maybe leaning her head forward made it worse?).
The vet hadn’t told us how long we might expect Katrina to live, but I don’t think she was too optimistic. She gave us medicine about a week’s worth at a time. Finally, on Friday, 1/3, I made an appointment to take her to the vet the following Monday. I figured we’d let them check her out one more time; if there was something that could be done to improve her situation, of course we’d do it. But most likely, we’d be saying goodbye. She was barely eating, and I don’t know if she was drinking. I was worried we’d come home one day and find her dead. And most importantly, I know she was not comfortable. She was all bones, and she couldn’t even do her favorite thing: eat.
On Monday, 1/6, I ended up working from home so I wouldn’t have to rush home from work to get her to the doctor. So I got to spend one more day with her. GG met us at the vet’s office, where she was examined. The vet said she was dehydrated, which confirmed my theory that she wasn’t even drinking anymore. We could all just tell it was time. I’d been planning to stay there while they gave her the shot, but by that point I was crying and GG said he couldn’t be in the room and I didn’t want to just be there crying by myself, so we left her with the vet staff. Everyone who works there is so nice, I didn’t feel bad about it or like we were abandoning her. I just wanted my last memory of her to be a good one.
Everyone immediately asked if we were going to get another cat, like we need to maintain a level of three cats at all times. I think we will just enjoy being a two-cat family for a while. I’m pretty sure Katrina was the reincarnation of my childhood cat, Harry. They were both fat ladies who did their own thing, but when they felt like being snuggly, they were such loves. Harry used to suckle on my pajamas (we think because she was taken from her mom too young as a kitten), and while Katrina never did that, she came so close a number of times, like one little lick. Also, she would have been born around the same time we had to put Harry to sleep. So my theory is, someday, I will meet a cat that was born in January 2014 with that same cat spirit.
As for the boys, I don’t think they really noticed at first that Katrina was gone. She had pretty much checked out in those last few weeks, and they weren’t really spending a lot of time together. For a long time, the saddest thing I could think of was the fact that Ivan and Katrina were so close, and one of them would have to die first and the other would be so lonely. But I don’t think Ivan really realized she was gone until a week or so later. Then he started walking around the house meowing, and he seemed very concerned. I think both he and Sacha are ok now, though.
Katrina, you were my little love and my beautiful girl. You shed more than any cat I’ve ever known. You were the only cat who would willingly let me pick them up and carry them around. You had an attitude, but when you were in the right mood, you were so very sweet. And of course you were a good sister to Ivan. You were kind of the worst cat, but I love you and miss you, my little baby girl >^..^<