Thursday, March 26, 2009


Maccy has lymphoma. This is a very treatable cancer in cats. We have the option, if he's well enough from the peritonitis, to try a dose of chemo on Friday and see if it shrinks the cancer and thereby helps him feel better. The vets are quite keen to give it a go, they are confident that it's a good move. But when we visited our boy today, he was a bit brighter but tired very quickly and just wanted to be left alone. This is not behaviour we see in him unless something is very wrong.

We had to discuss all the possible options, talking frankly about quality of life and when it's right to decide to stop the suffering. It's the last thing we can do for our pets, take away any suffering and let them go to sleep. We've had to make this choice twice before, with Amy and then a year later with her daughter, Petunia. It was to some extent easier both those times, because both old girls had fatal conditions with no hope of reprieve. They had both clearly come to the end of their physical capacity to eat or socialise, leaving only lying around waiting for death. It was pretty horrible but also quite clear that letting them go to sleep was right, and right now.

Maccy might not be well enough for chemo; the peritonitis may not clear up enough. He's on pretty heavy meds, and after 3 days hasn't gained much ground. Without chemo he'll certainly die, and soon. The roll of the dice is whether a dose of chemo (which is administered with steroids) will immediately shrink the tumour and therefore make him feel a lot better. Reduce the pain, let his digestive system work properly, give him back his appetite. If it does, we are then on a merry-go-round of weekly or twice-weekly visits to the vet for monitoring and further chemo. This means lots more of the much-hated car trips. He's never been a happy traveller, and I'm loathe to inflict more of that on him. But is it fair to let him go without trying? I don't know.

He's been such an important part of my life, and my family's life, for 12 years. He's a very gorgeous boy, a loving purrsonality who has roamed the neighbourhood making friends for years. When we started having to keep him inside, and take him for walks on his lead, we began to find all the other homes he'd (easily) made his own. Friends who live a few blocks away who welcomed him as their own. The woman who had morning coffee with him on her porch. Several families whose young children loved his visits. Grandpa up the road who missed Maccy coming for afternoon naps. Neighbours over the road whose grandkids would come to the gate and call him out, then take him over and feed him catnip and pat him til he went all soft and purry - and came home with the munchies!

And there were the people he developed a yen for, and where we could reliably find him in the evening when we wanted him to come home - various group households around the place where the residents could be seen rushing to let him out when they heard us calling! Our next-door neighbours, both families who've lived there; the first who allowed him to live inside and out as he pleased, often bonding with Toby (both boys snoozing on the bed together); later our new neighbours who looked forward to morning coffee with Maccy on the deck. For a while when we first started walking Maccy on his lead, he always went in to see if Mr Nexdor was there, and had a little drink from their fishpond.

Now he has every staff member at the vet practice waiting on him - hand-feeding, serial cuddling, constant checks to see that he's comfortable, every encouragement to get better and carry on being, as St Michael the head vet put it, 'the purrfect cat'. I don't know ... over the last few years he's had a number of very nasty illnesses, the worst being three weeks of hell when he suffered major bowel inflammation, and cat flu. We were lucky to save him that time. Maybe the poor old puss has just done his dash. He's dispensed uncritical love and furriness all his life, provided deep pleasure and comfort to so many people. He's soaked up my tears, gobbled up my catering, decorated our home and our garden, tolerated that pesky Little Miss Wendy when she first moved in and tried to run him off the premises. He's purred and purred, and lolled around in ungainly poses, and squikked and prrpd and mrowed his way through life, and made a damn fine job of it. We're all totally in thrall to him. Messages of love and sorrow for him have come literally from all over the world.

Light a candle for Maccy. Or eat a tin of tuna, or munch on a chicken bone. Sit in the sun and watch butterflies. Come and rub your head against my leg or sit pointedly in front of the fridge. Go to sleep on M's chair on the special blanky I crocheted. Hold him close and feel him purr. I can feel it now....

No comments: