I'm writing with the very sad news that I took Jinx to the vet this afternoon and Dr. Johnson confirmed what I feared, that Jinx was in the process of dying. I stayed with her while the vet first gave her a sedative (which she barely needed), then did the kind thing and gave her an IV injection that ended the process rather than letting it drag on for another few hours or days. It was all very gentle and quiet, and, yes, teary-eyed all around. After it was over, the tech who had done the initial intake wrapped Jinx's body in a soft red blanket. I think I appreciated that most of all. Very caring and loving, and not at all clinical.
I took the photo this morning. Jinx is on the right, with the little bit of white fluff on her chest. You might be able to see the signs of liver failure in the yellowed skin in the thin spot above her right eye and also the inner part of her ear. Dr. Johnson said the surface of her liver felt consistent with what happens with FIP -- feline infectious peritonitis
. That's also consistent with the weight loss she's been experiencing, though, as Dr. Johnson said, this final decline was really quite sudden. We did lab work on her in July after she was continuing to lose weight despite getting as many supplemental feedings of yummy canned food as she wanted. At that time, her lab results were all fine and while she was skinny, she was still tearing around the house when she and Tillie would get into it, gleefully pouncing on the laser pointer, and otherwise acting like a healthy cat with a delicate digestive system. In July, she weighed 8.4 pounds; today she weighed just 7 pounds. That's a bit less than half the 14.2 pounds she weighed in at when I first took her and Tillie to the vet in October, 2011.
In retrospect, I can see she'd been going downhill faster over the past 6 weeks, but at the time, it just seemed like more of the same problems she'd been struggling with for awhile. Problems that might have been easily explained as hairballs, but weren't...as I found out for certain today.
And, from the Cornell Feline Health Center:
What are the symptoms of FIP?
Cats that have been initially exposed to the feline coronavirus usually show no obvious symptoms. Some cats may show mild upper respiratory symptoms such as sneezing, watery eyes, and nasal discharge. Other cats may experience a mild intestinal disease and show symptoms such as diarrhea. Only a small percentage of cats that are exposed to the feline coronavirus develop FIP-and this can occur weeks, months, or even years after initial exposure.
In cats that develop FIP, the symptoms can appear to be sudden since cats have an amazing ability to mask disease until they are in a crisis state. Once symptoms develop, often there is increasing severity over the course of several weeks, ending in death. Generally, these cats first develop nonspecific symptoms such as loss of appetite, weight loss, depression, rough hair coat, and fever.
I don't know that Daddy would have taken her to his vet if he'd still been here to see the signs. Maybe, or maybe he would have done what I did before today's appointment, holding her close, comforting her, and just stroking her gently, gently until she was gone. I do know he wouldn't have spent hundreds or thousands of dollars on tests trying to figure it out earlier, and I'm glad I stopped after the first couple hundred dollars for the tests this summer. The vet advised that, too, at the time, and today he was very clear, telling me he didn't need to run a bunch of tests to know what his eyes and fingers were telling him. I don't begrudge today's $113, much as I'm old enough myself to croggle at what such things cost. The professional confirmation and additional information about what my own eyes were telling me was a comfort, and it was a comfort (though a hard comfort) to help ease her on her way.
I'm feeling some guilt for not taking her in sooner instead of just trying the hairball remedy that had temporarily helped her through past digestive problems. I don't really have a sense of what these last few weeks have been like for her. I know she slowed down a lot, and spent more time in the corner where the two baseboard radiators meet here in my office. In many ways, she followed her usual habits -- avoiding me whenever it looked like I might be thinking about picking her up, but coming to sleep on her pillow or even climb on top of me once I'd gone to bed. I knew things were bad when she let me pick her up without objection Monday night and then settled onto my chest for petting after I found her on her favorite chair in the basement toy room. Even then, she climbed two flights of stairs from the basement and jumped up on the bed on her own that night. Last night, I carried her up with me. When she was healthy, she never, ever would have tolerated that, let alone seem to find comfort in it.
Lots of other news du jour, too. Sleep study results, major car repairs. But tonight, I'm going to mourn Jinx's death and spend some extra time with Tillie.