Last week we had to make a hard decision for our much loved clinic cat Oliver. He had multiple problems - diabetes, hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease - and despite our best efforts was fading away to nothing.
He has lived at Canberra Cat Vet since almost the day we opened as his owner went into hospital and passed away while he was staying with us. For the last year he has been faithfully medicated and cared for by his staff. However, we discovered that he had a liver mass recently and although he was still as bright as a button and ordering us around as usual, he lost weight rapidly. His kidneys were also deteriorating and he required fluids under the skin every second day - which he hated.
Some days he ate well and some days he didn't. Some days he came out of his office to check the hospital was running smoothly and others he stayed on his bed(s) all day. His litter tray was a mess some days and empty others. Just as we would decide that he wasn't enjoying life he would spark up again.
We had to ask ourselves the hard questions:
- Was he having more good days than bad?
- Was his appetite stable and was he enjoying his meals?
- Was he responding to us and his surroundings as much as he had just a few months before?
- Would he tolerate yet more treatment for his kidney disease?
- Was he staying in his familiar places or moving to unusual places - or was he not moving a lot at all?
- Was he crying a lot - or quieter than normal?
- Was he using the litterbox, missing it or soiling his beds?
- Was he losing weight more rapidly than expected in an elderly cat?
- How much enjoyment was he really getting out of life?
The clincher for Ollie was the regular kidney treatment - he hated being interfered with at the best of times. And he had lost over a kilogram of weight in the last 6 months, despite Nurse Leanne's intensive feeding regime.
All of his staff eventually agreed that it was time for Ollie to go. We gathered around him on his favourite bed, and purring loudly, he slid off into a happier hunting ground.