Yesterday, with a heavy heart, I brought my sweet Demitasse, aka Demi, to my veterinarians to evaluate her declining health. Having had many pets, some healthier than others, I have unfortunately become fairly good at knowing when they are in need of humane euthanasia. I just needed confirmation that my own evaluation of Demi’s status was on point. Demi was eighteen years old in March of 2021. She had many health issues which I, with help and direction from my vets, was able to medicate so that she would have some semblance of a normal life. As she aged, more problems arose, but she still ate, and seemed to be relatively comfortable.
Last week she developed a cold, along with some breathing difficulties. She was given an antibiotic injection which was touted to be effective for two weeks. At the end of the first week her symptoms returned, but with more evidence that things weren’t going to get better. My vet agreed that it was time to say goodbye to my longtime friend and lap cat. We said our farewells outside, and I left with tears and that empty feeling one gets when a life is ended, humanely, or not.
Demi was born in foster care at my brother Ray’s and his partner Pam’s home. She came into the world with three littermates, one month to the day after our mother died. We had a number of cats and a dog, but it seemed as if fate would bring us our first kitten that was somehow connected to our mother…one of many animal lovers in our family who is most responsible for our own love of critters.
Demi was a most curious kitten. We lived in a three story home, (not counting the basement) with a staircase connecting each floor. The ground level hallway had a lovely chestnut or oak staircase with spindles up the handrail and across the second floor hallway. Demi and her curiosity got too close to the edge and slipped through to crash down onto the wooden floor below. I heard the noise, ran to see what had happened, and found a somewhat dazed, but unscathed Demi on the floor. For the rest of her life, I believe her clumsiness was a result of that fall.
Demi was intent on entering our son’s bedroom and was relentless in that pursuit. I’m not sure what the attraction was, but I suspect she just wanted to be with him. Our only lap cat, Demi was connected to her humans and enjoyed being in our company. I think I will miss that the most. The one cat who remains in our home now, didn’t get along with Demi as she aged and showed some weaknesses. We never knew if Nebbiolo was attempting to play or attack- possibly a combination of the two. Nebbiolo likes to be around us, but doesn’t like to be held and I don’t expect to ever find him on my lap.
When we retired and moved to a new home, Demi and her four cat housemates and two dog housemates came with us. They all adjusted nicely to the one story home. My husband created a small room at the bottom of the cellar steps to house the litter pans. Demi welcomed two more young cats, and our animal population exploded to seven cats and two dogs. I can say with no hesitation that seven is not a great number of cats to have in a small house. One by one, all have met the same fate as Demi. I have had fourteen beloved pets humanely euthanized. This is the price we pay for loving animals. In most cases we outlive them.
Demi was diagnosed with her first disease, stomatitis, an autoimmune disease which affects and inflames the gums and causes cats to lose teeth. Demi eventually only had one tooth, which made it extremely easy to pill her. I had no fear sticking my hands into her mouth. Her jaw was quite strong, but never caused me to stop providing her prednisolone. It is a drug which calmed the irritation in her mouth, but would eventually help lead to her demise. I opted for quality, not quantity, but that said, eighteen years is a good age for a cat to reach.
Her next issue was hyperthyroidism. This required twice daily syringes of methimazole. Again, it was easy to get drugs into Demi. For that I am thankful. Developing urinary infections was also a problem. We made adjustments to diet and gave her UT Strength Feline Pro. These had to be cut into eight small pieces and yes, I pilled all eight pieces twice daily. She also took Foriflora, a kitty probiotic, and Atopica, another medicine for her stomatitis. Once her fur started to look unhealthy, I added Omega-3 oil to her food. Not long ago we also started once daily Cerenia, along with weekly vet visits for subcutaneous fluids. As all these applications sometimes felt overwhelming to administer, I reminded myself of that sweet time when she would voluntarily jump onto my lap for a visit. Towards the end she also slept with me. It seems as if all my cats let me know their departure was near by staying close through the night. One of my cats actually sat close to my head on my pillow.
Some of Demi’s less enchanting behaviors included begging for food from us while we ate. She positioned herself dangerously close to serving dishes and also our dinner plates. One particular demonstration of her will to succeed included her swooping down on one of my pan seared scallops and running off with it. She had me to contend with, though, and I managed to retrieve it quickly. I ‘kissed it up to God’ and ate it myself! Demi actually had bits of my pork chop the last meal she ate. Her begging was a way to let me know she was still interested in eating. One of my barometers for questioning health and life for my pets has always been appetite. Once they stop eating I must face the inevitable. Demi tried, but couldn’t eat on her last morning. I am glad she had some pork chop the night before.
As I have written before, in reference to my beloved dog Bella, who left me less than a year ago, it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved. Demi will remain with me in my memories of my first kitten. I loved her and think it may have been mutual. She joins all my other departed pets on a memorial wall. Photographs and paintings of pets are a daily reminder of all the love they gave me.