Back in May, the Tiny Cat was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. We were told she might live 6-12 months with treatment. So we started treatment, mainly diuretics, plus some other drugs that were added to the regimen once it was clear that the last one wasn’t causing problems.
To our great relief, she made it through the summer; both the humans were afraid she would die while I was in England. She gave up on going upstairs, and pretty much lives in the living room now. But she kept eating pretty well, and spent a lot of the summer in the front window, watching the butterflies who visit the butterfly bush.
I think it must now be four weeks ago, over the weekend, that she threw a clot in one front leg, which was the cause of our first late-night visit to the emergency vet. We were warned of possible dire consequences if it didn’t resolve . . . but it did, and the next day she was using the paw just fine.
The following weekend, Sir John woke me at 3:00 a.m. because she was having trouble breathing; he thought we should take her in, and feared that this could be the end, because she hadn’t responded to the extra dose of diuretic he had administered. The vet gave her a shot of diuretic, and ran oxygen into her cage for a little bit, and then we got to take her home again. The next day she was better, and the day after that seemed better still, not just watching butterflies but playing with various toys.
She made it through the long Labor Day weekend just fine, but then on the Tuesday we spent all day going back and forth to our regular vet, again because she had trouble breathing; but again with extra diuretic and some oxygen she started feeling better. (Most of the trips were for us, not for her; she just stayed put, although the final trip there was because when we got her home we discovered that she still had a catheter in her leg, so we went back to have it removed.)
Years ago, we went through similar ups and downs with Sir John’s father, who had congestive heart failure and was on his deathbed at least three times before he finally went down for the count. So we know that in between acute episodes, quality of life can remain pretty good. But over time, the heart gets weaker and weaker. Obviously, we won’t let our Tiny Cat be miserable for an extended period; if, for instance, she gets to a point where she can’t breathe comfortably without oxygen, or if the diuretics do her kidneys in, we’ll have to let her go. However, we do hope that she may manage to die peacefully at home, without a lot of discomfort, and that in the meantime there will be sunlight, butterflies, her favorite fishy kitten food, snuggles with her brother (the Grammarian), more bouts with the ring toy and the electric mouse toy, and the loyalty and adulation that she expects from the servants.