Last night around 9:45 p.m., our 9 year-old cat Jelly Bean started crying quite suddenly. In true cat fashion, she hid under our bed and we had to prod her out. As I put her in the cat carrier, I saw that her hind legs seemed heavy and unresponsive.
By 10:30, we were at the emergency veterinary hospital. I drove down with my older son in the back seat beside Miss Bean, trying to calm her down a bit. Her cries were heart breaking.
Vet clinics are the ultimate in private health care. If you've got the money, service is fast and efficient. I plunked down my credit card and the Bean was whisked into triage. By the time I'd come back from parking the car (I'd parked right at the door and left my flashers on so we could run in with her), my son and I were ushered into a small examining room and the vet and a student came in shortly thereafter.
The vet explained that Jelly Bean had a blood clot in her leg. It was probably due to her congenital heart murmur, which had never caused any problems over the years until last night. She then explained the prognosis, which was very, very poor despite the fact that Jelly Bean still had a bit of blood flow to the affected area. We were probably looking at a few weeks or months, with the distinct possibility of further blood clots and terrible pain. As humans, we always hear about clot busting drugs for stroke victims, but this did not seem to be an alternative for our cat.
If Jelly Bean had had a serious but treatable condition, I think we would have gone for the gold, but we were not prepared to spend thousands of dollars to give her a few more weeks of life, possibly in terrible pain. I think she would have needed an around-the-clock caregiver, just in case another clot formed and this too was impossible.
At this point, Jelly Bean had been given a substantial amount of morphine for the pain as well as a sedative since she had become extremely agitated and had actually bitten a technician. So we had to sit and wait until the sedative took effect before we could see her. My son called his brother, who was on the subway heading home from a friend's place. He got off the subway and got on the next train going back south and met us at the hospital just as a technician came in to say that we could see Jelly Bean. She was fairly calm by this point and was lying on a sheepskin-like blanket, wrapped in a towel. Her eyes were wet, probably from the effects of the various medications--but it looked like tears. The three of us patted her and spoke to her quietly. I kissed her head. Then we left.
Jelly Bean was euthanized shortly after midnight this morning, Aug. 31.
Jelly Bean was not an easy cat. She didn't like being held or patted very much, but she liked to stay nearby us, lying at our feet when we went to bed and then going to sleep with one of the boys, if they were still sleeping after my husband and I got up. She would often sit beside us on the couch if we were reading or watching TV.
Yes, it was only an orange tabby house cat who died. There are people dying from violence and starvation around the world as we speak and that's a reality we must fight. But she was our Bean and we're in mourning.