The morning of Wednesday, August 16th, was very exciting. It was the day I brought Samantha home from St Francis Veterinary Specialist. I was so happy to see her and I would like to think she was equally happy to see me.
Before riding off into the sunset with Samantha I had to go through a lot of discharge notes with Dr. Barbur. First off, there was Samantha’s feeding. She still wasn’t eating on her own so I got a crash course in tube feeding (make a soupy mix, put it in the giant syringe and squeeze in the tube…very slowly). I’ve administered injections and subcutaneous fluids; I felt confident I could tackle this task. Secondly, she had a laundry list of medications: pain killer, antibiotic, anti-nausea, and appetite stimulant. Fortunately, they were to be given at the same time every 12 hours.
As soon as she arrived at my house, she seemed relieved. She stumbled around as she purred. Every time she was near me she would bump my hand to be petted. For the time being all was well in the world for me and her.
I fed Samantha every 5-6 hours. The vet suggested I give her 40 mL of the soupy mix every feeding, but she would only take 10 mL – 15 mL before becoming nauseous. She wasn’t a fan of the feeding tube. She begrudgingly tolerated it, though.
Thursday rolled around. Samantha was still bright and alert. And still not a fan of her feedings. She was my companion keeping me company on the couch as I worked. Her purrs providing a comforting hum for me and perhaps herself.
As the day progressed I noticed she was slowly losing the spunk she had the day before and early in the morning. I chalked it up to her being a cat and having the midday lazies. There was point, though, when she walked to the middle of the room and let out a sigh that, in a way, signaled she was knew her time on earth was coming to an end and she was ready to go.
Late Thursday night after her feeding, when the house was quiet, she and I sat on the couch together. She wasn’t bumping my hand with her head. She wasn’t purring. She climbed into her bed – the black, round one with brightly colored dragonflies and flowers – and faced the back of the couch.
My gut told me something was wrong. I wanted to be optimistic, but Samantha’s situation was one worst case scenario after another. I told myself that I would take it one day at a time with her. I would not jump to conclusions without first knowing the results of the biopsy.
The next day I took Samantha back to St Francis for her post-op follow-up. The vet tech took Samantha to the back area where she received an ultrasound and had her vitals checked.
Soon after Dr. Barbur came in to tell me that the ultrasound showed no signs of a leak (yay!). Then she followed up with the biopsy results. Samantha had adenoquamous carcinoma, a cancer so rare that this was only Dr. Barbur’s second case. (Try googling it; it is so rare that the only thing that comes up is a case study on a cat in Japan). Not only is it rare, but Samantha’s was aggressive.
Worst case scenario.
At this point I sobbed. Not only was I going to lose her, but I questioned all the choices I had made in the past week. Dr. Barbur was reassuring and she made me feel less guilty. I knew I had to make that decision that every pet parent dreads. I had to let her go and end her suffering.
I took Samantha back home with me for the afternoon so I could make arrangements with Myra and Jayne. We planned to meet up at St Francis at 7:00 that evening.
As Myra, Jayne and I waited in the exam room with Samantha we talked about how awful she was when she first arrived at camp. She was mean and hateful! We never imagined she would turn into the lovable cat that we grew to adore. She became Camp Kitty’s greeter. She always welcomed a friendly pet. As we waited, St Francis staff members popped in to tell us that they were smitten by Samantha during the short time she was there and that we were doing the right thing. She exhibited such strength and grace the past week so it was only fair to let her go with dignity.
At around 7:15 pm Samantha left us and crossed over the Rainbow Bridge where maybe she’ll be greeted by her sister, Cuddles. She was surrounded by her humans and love. There were many tears and our hearts ached as she drifted off.