Being Our Very Best Selves for Our Pet’s Sake
I’ve had a lot of time to think this week. I’ve spent several hours at the vet. I’ve waited a few days for lab results. I’ve wallowed in self-pity over possibly losing another cat way too young.
When all is said and done, things don’t look as bleak as they could, but then, the results are also inconclusive. The worst didn’t show up, but the vet tells me that doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Meanwhile, as I wallowed and cried and moaned, Toby got sadder and lost his will to purr. Only when I kicked myself in the butt and ordered an end to the wallowing did he come out of the closet, climb into my lap and share that purr I’d thought I’d lost for good for nearly an hour. He’s back to climbing on me when I go to bed, and again when I wake in the middle of the night. He no longer feels the need to spend the entire day hiding in the closet, and is instead, hanging out in whichever room I’m in. He’s letting me know when he’s hungry, and consuming 2-3 jars of baby food a day.
I learned some really important lessons over the last week.
Our Mood Affects Theirs
I learned that no matter how lousy our pets might feel, they make our mood a priority. It’s all well and fine to tell ourselves to think about a positive outcome, but unless we actually act like we believe it, our pet will suffer with us. Since we want them to keep their strength up to fight off whatever ails them, we’re not doing them any favors.
Put Their Needs First
The idea of losing a cherished pet is devastating. But going to extremes to keep them alive a little longer has to be done for the right reasons. Our unhappiness is not the right reason. If those extremes can save both their life and their quality of life, it’s worth considering. If they’ll only result in a few more months or even years of pain and discomfort, think really hard. Would you want someone to put you through a long run of pain and life as an invalid simply because they couldn’t handle losing you? Probably not.
Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to Express Your Love
Do you give your pet attention every day? Do you remind them by word and deed how important they are to you? This might be as simple as cuddles in the morning and before bed, a clean litter box, fresh water and treats now and then. When they give you that look of love and trust, do you acknowledge it? Do you show them your gratitude? Do they know you love them just as wholeheartedly? In my house, we have a regular bed time ritual. Each cat has their own special part in this ritual (although Mulan, the Siamese thinks she has to be part of everyone’s ritual. Such is the belief of the born Princess). Toby’s part has always been to climb on top of me and purr for a few minutes after the girls have had their pets. Other members of the pack take turns guarding my head or just curling up in various places on the bed. And I miss each one if for some reason they fail to make their usual appearance.
Be Sensitive to Their Moods
Animals, and especially cats can’t tell you when something hurts or their tummy is upset. Aside from vomiting, they have no way to communicate with us unless we’re one of the fortunate few who can communicate with animals. I have wished I was on many occasions, if only to spare one of my own the pain they couldn’t express. But they do show us in subtle ways; changes in behavior, disinterest in food, lethargy, hiding. If we’re paying attention to them every day, we have a better chance of noticing when they’re a little off.
Know When Letting Go is What’s Best for Them
Giving up on someone we love is never easy. Whether it’s a child who insists on going down their own destructive path, or a pet whose quality of life is gone forever. It’s just not in our nature to give up on them. I’ve been guilty of dragging things on for too long because I didn’t want an animal to have such a short life. But the truth is, if they could have talked, they’d have told me to please let them go and be out of pain. Going to extremes to keep them alive isn’t doing them any favors, nor is it really helping us. It merely prolongs a decision which will eventually have to be made one way or another.
A few years ago, I had a cat named Loki who developed kidney issues at a fairly young age. We almost lost her on more than one occasion because of it. Eventually, we were giving her sub-cutaneous fluids twice a day, and the doctor had just prescribed an injectable medication that cost over $200 for a couple of doses. The last straw was the vet who suggested a kidney transplant which would have cost a “mere” $50,000 and came with no guarantees. Still, I persisted until the day Loki was in really bad shape. I ran her to the vet, still not ready to give up on her. I held her in my arms, crying and trying to make the best decision for her. Suddenly, she began to convulse. That was her way of telling me it was OK to stop trying so hard to keep her alive. She was done and was telling me so in no uncertain terms. I still question whether I did her any favors keeping her going that long. In all honesty, I kept her going more for my own sake than hers, and that’s a pretty lousy reason. She still lives on in my memories, but she is no longer in pain.
What I learned from the experience is that in a lot of cases, especially chronic illness, more is not necessarily better. When the cat is barely eating and is down to skin and bones, it’s time to consider what’s best for them and put our own feelings aside.
Short Lives Filled With Love
Most of our pets have much shorter lifetimes than humans. We have to accept that whenever we adopt. There have been a lot of beloved cats in my life and losing each and every one took a piece of my heart. Most of those cats shared a deep, abiding love with me that’s hard to find in humans. They don’t care what I look like in the morning or if I don’t shower or dress up nice. They simply want my company, some cuddles and pets, regular feedings, clean litterboxes, and fresh water. Their needs and their expectations are simple. What they give back is immeasurable. That kind of unconditional love deserves no less in return. I know I must not only ensure they live with dignity, but die that way as well. It’s the least I can do for their lifetime of devotion.
Gratitude Reminds Us
My gratitudes today are:
- I am grateful for the unconditional love of my animals.
- I am grateful for continued improvement in Toby’s health, energy, and appetite.
- I am grateful for supportive friends who understand the love and devotion I give my animals.
- I am grateful for the ability to spend as much time as necessary with a sick pet.
- I am grateful for abundance; work, love, inspiration, motivation, health, harmony, peace, friendship, clients, writing, reading, learning, playing, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. She believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information.