In the end it wasn’t kidney disease, thyroid disease, heart murmur, high blood pressure, weight loss, dehydration, or anything else on the long list of ailments that troubled Lou. In the end it was a simple kitty cold that brought my time with sweet Lou to a close.
He had been troubled by recurrent URI ever since Kelsey returned from the surgeon’s office in 2009. First Chloe caught the cold and just as she recovered Lou started sneezing. After that first episode he would periodically get a mild sneeze or runny eyes and nose. It was nothing more than an annoyance just like when we get a cold. More recently he had been getting them more often and more severely. About 10 days before he passed he came down with what seemed like a routine cold. But it progressed very quickly and stubbornly held on. His nose became completely filled and my best attempts at holding warm washcloths didn’t seem to help. A humidifier running didn’t seem to help. And then he started having trouble breathing. I would wake in the night to hear him on my bed struggling to breathe. He stopped eating as much because he was unable to smell his food. His sounded like he was snoring in the middle of a deep sleep but the sound came from him while he was fully awake. On the tenth day of this I knew that he needed help. I had a choice to make. I couldn’t let him struggle without seeing a vet. Maybe they would suggest antibiotics. Maybe they would want to scan his lungs. Whatever course of treatment I knew that he was uncomfortable and even if the cold ran its course something else would be right behind it. At the same time Lou had basically stopped using his litter box. He had gone from getting fully in the box and making every effort to try to squat though failing miserably to simply placing one front paw in the box before he relived himself. I think it was important that he tried to go through the motions and make the gesture even though he really was unable to do very much. His legs were also getting weaker. Although he was currently still making his way around, just the week before he had been unable to climb the stairs and even had difficulty with the two steps up to the chair he slept on. More than once I watched him slip on the stair as his legs went in all directions. Quite simply, I could not watch him struggling to breathe knowing that even a miracle would not give him back strength in his legs or the ability to maintain his dignity in using the bathroom.
And so that’s how it came to be that on a dark, gloomy, rainy Wednesday afternoon we took the ride up I-295 to the doctor’s office. Other than a couple of small cries in the beginning Lou slept during most of the car ride. While in the room he lay wrapped in my arms in an embrace. And when it was time to lay him down on the table I cupped his head and covered his face with both of my hands which is what always made him feel secure in scary situations. And when I saw his front paw relax I knew he was gone even before the vet confirmed it. I picked him up in my arms for one last embrace before gently placing him down and having to turn and walk away. I silently walked hand in hand with my pillar of strength and we gently wiped our tears away.