Tuesday 1 November 2011

Caring For an Old Cat

I am caring for a very old cat. She is 20 years old. This is a short post about what it is like. It is a labor of love. It is no different as far as I am concerned to caring for an old person. You don't get a lot of feedback. You have to do things that your old cat does not like in order to keep them alive and out of pain and discomfort.

For example, I have to administer antibiotics twice a day every day for the rest of her life to manage a massive infection on her right kidney. Her left kidney is hard I am told. She has a heart murmur and is anemic. She has kidney failure. She is somewhat anorexic. She is very static all day and night and demands to be static outside. She is outside about 10 paces from my home, day and night, 24/7 (except for eating and drinking and going to the toilet). She is so static that flies have laid eggs in her fur. I have to comb these out and she hates it because it is at her rear end.

Binnie - old cat - she looks quite good but is dying. Taken ten minutes ago (1-11-11)

So, I am doing things for her that she dislikes. This does not help the relationship. Because of her dementia I have already lost most of her. In other words this is one way traffic and my actions are altruistic. I do it all for her. I give her the best food, plenty of cuddles, flea combing and general combing. You will need unconditional love.

For this reason I can understand why cat owners euthanize their old cats before they should do it. You have to look into your heart and ask am I euthanizing my cat because she is inconvenient and troublesome? Or am I euthanizing my cat for her, to stop the discomfort, and because the quality of her life has deteriorated so much that is it pointless.

In other words there should be the same standards for our cat and a person when it comes to decide how to administer care. Let's not fool ourselves many very old people are quietly euthanized in care homes and hospitals.

That said we should not apply overly zealous rules about euthanasia that govern our behavior towards people. Death is not something to be feared. It should be treated as just another part of life; the final moment.

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