He started showing symptoms on Thursday night. Lethargy, loud meowing, not sleeping in his usual spots. He was just out of it.
Friday, we came home early to get the kids as we were invited to a friend's house for dinner. He was still in his spot from the night before, so Chris brought over a small bowl of water (which he drank from immediately) and some food. When we got home after dinner (which actually was close to midnight), Shadow had moved over to the window. We knew that something was really wrong, Chris didn't have a hopeful outlook.
He is 14 years old, that's the problem, Chris said. That's pretty old for a cat. Shadow, and his brother, Putz, are my first pets. So I don't really know.
We went to bed...and then I got up. I wanted to bring Shadow into our room. Not on the bed, as was his usual spot, since I wasn't sure if he could get down if he needed to. So, I set up a blanket on the floor next to me, with water and food. I picked up Shadow from the living room and brought him in. He meowed loudly, not sure if it was from pain or what, but when I put him down on the blanket (a blanket they used a lot for sleeping so had all the right smells), he purred. That was nice to hear and made me feel good about bringing him into our room.
Throughout the night, I'd check on him and he was sleeping. Putz was walking around him, once I saw him laying next to Shadow, and of course, Putz was eating the food. But he was near Shadow, and we were too, so it was a bit of comfort. I wonder how Shadow felt...
The next morning, I woke up and looked down. Shadow had moved slightly. He had gone to the bathroom on a corner of the blanket and moved to sleep on the other side. I got up to pet him. He all of a sudden flopped over and meowed very loudly in pain. He was drooling and seemed very out of it. I cried out to Chris...I started to freak out a bit. We had to take him in to the vet ASAP.
Chris got up and looked online for a vet near us...found a great one about 10 minutes away. Got the kids up and ready. I hadn't decided until then for all of us to go...and now I'm glad we did. Got to the vet at around 9am, but vet didn't get there until 9:30am. He did an ultrasound and we saw it. It was huge. Vet did an x-ray to be sure...and yeah, a tumor. Cancer. The noise the vet made when he first saw it made it clear how bad it really was. No hope.
When I told Maya, she started crying immediately. Didn't stop for a while. The vet had given Shadow some pain meds and that really seemed to help calm Shadow down. Seeing him flop around trying to get away but not able to was heartbreaking. We went into a private room to be with Shadow for a while. The vet told us he'd give him a deep anesthesia to take away all the pain and feeling, then would inject him with something to stop the heart.
Maya was taking it very hard, understandably. We've lost fish before, but this was Shadow...he's always been around all her life. And a cute cuddly adorable cat.
My first baby.
Maya and Nadia and Chris said their goodbyes and left the room. I let myself cry really hard after Maya was out of the room. Shadow looked so peaceful now. I didn't know what to say to him, just pet him and rubbed his ear (he loved that) and kissed him so many times. Vet injected the anesthesia...Shadow did what seemed like hissing, but I'm not sure it was that. Maybe his body just reacting? Hissing didn't seem right, though Shadow was the hisser out of the two cats. He never hesitated to let people or other cats or dogs know when he was not happy.
And then...he stopped breathing. At least, it seemed like it. Even before that second shot to stop his heart. Even now, as I'm typing this, I'm shaking.
We had the option to cremate him with other cats and dogs or to cremate him and keep the ashes. Chris and I decided that keeping his ashes was too painful. Maya asked me what was that about...what was cremation. I tried to explain and she immediately shook her head violently and said "NO! I don't want that. No cremation." She was happy and relieved when I told her that we agreed with her. I didn't have the heart to explain that even if we didn't want the ashes, he was going to be cremated. She thought they wouldn't do that if we didn't want the ashes. She heard them say they would put him in the freezer until the people came to collect the bodies and I think she thinks that is where he'll stay if not cremated.
We left the vet and came home. Maya was still crying, all the way in the taxi. There was a fair at her school, but she didn't feel like going, so we just stayed at home. Laid in bed together, cuddling, crying, talking about it.
After some time, she wanted to play Guitar Hero to "try to stop thinking about Shadow". :-)
All weekend, it was the little things that made us miss Shadow. Waking up in the morning, he wasn't there to greet us with his silent meows. Putz was more adorable than ever, making us play with him and be thankful for him still being with us.
Tonight, Monday night, Chris and I got home a little earlier than usual and Maya was still up. She asked me if I had printed out pics of Shadow for her to put up on the ceiling above her upper bunk, so she could fall asleep with Shadow watching over her. I got her out of bed and we printed out two pics of him:
The second one, Maya took on our way to the vet on Saturday. She did a good job with it.
I'm still in shock. I miss my Shadow baby.