Written By: Charity Allen
In the Fall of 2010, I was a new student in the NSAC Veterinary Technician Program. Daily, I went to the campus clinic where the majority of the animals were from shelters. These animals were there to be spayed or neutered. One particular cat named Willow, had caught my eye. He was small, had disheveled fur, severe dental disease and had diarrhea and vomiting since arriving for his procedures. I had heard through the grapevine that he may be euthanized as his symptoms were not improving.
Instantly, I rushed home from class, filled out my adoption application and eagerly waited for a call. That afternoon I received the good news that I was going to be a cat mom for the second time! At that moment, I had no idea what kind of emotional rollercoaster I was about to embark on with this guy (and his sister) for the next 6 years.
My little ball of fur, now named Little Man fit in well with his new sister and everyone was happy and healthy. After deworming him his diarrhea had come to a halt and having his teeth cleaned with multiple extractions made him happy as ever. That was until January of 2011. Little started to form bloody sores all over his body, and his diarrhea and vomiting had come back. After repeated trips to see Dr. Melissa, having fecal examinations completed, blood tests run and medication/ food trials we learned that he had developed food allergies and irritable bowel disease. He was prescribed Hypoallergenic HP, and for 3 years he did exceptionally well, only having an occasional flare up of his bowel disease when he decided he needed to steal food and treats! Gradually his irritable bowel disease began to progress over the years, but he maintained his health on steroids and hypoallergenic food. It wasn’t until a year ago that his health began to decline. His steroid dose was increased to the highest amount, and he needed injections to keep him from vomiting and having diarrhea. At this point he had developed an over growth of a skin parasite called demodectic mange, which occurred because his immune system was no longer up to the task of keeping them under control. With parasite treatments every 2 weeks and multiple visits to see Dr. Melissa, I began to notice a change in Little’s temperament and he was no longer the cat willing to give constant affection. By September, he had continued to get worse and I researched new ideas and treatments to keep him happy and healthy. After his bowel disease had progressed into lymphoma (a form of cancer), I decided to try chemotherapy which would be administered at home through pill form and bi-weekly blood draws to monitor his response. At this point in his life, I often wondered if doing all of these treatments and repeated visits to the vet were worth it and if I was being selfish. We had our ups and downs, he had his good days and bad days and looking back on Little now, I always wonder what else I could have done to make him comfy longer. I second guessed if I was doing the right thing.
I believe making this decision is different for everyone and there is never a perfect time. Although his life was a short 6 years and I would give anything to have my furry shadow with me forever, knowing he is probably doing his favourite activities like shredding many cat toys and rolling in glitter gives me peace of mind.