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So how do you know?

rjesak
March 1st, 2010, 01:14 PM
I've read discussions before on how to know when it's time to put an animal to sleep and have been in the position of making those decisions as well. I've always been ok with the idea that by choosing to accept the joy my cats bring to me, I accept the responsibility of giving them as much good life as I can while protecting them from as much discomfort as I can.

This leaves me in a situation with Oscar where I'm concerned about knowing what to do. For starters, I know it's not time yet but the time will come and I'm hoping I'll know then. Here's the deal:

As many of you know from my posts, his asthma has been largely uncontrolled. When the vet recommended a lung aspiration (a rather horrible diagnostic procedure), I decided to cease and desist all medications and procedures except those that would directly and immediately improve his quality of life. This means I dropped the oral and injected steroids and only use the inhaler when his breathing is particularly bad. He's also still on the Fluoxetine to keep him relaxed although I only give it to him every other day instead of every day.

Needless to say, without the oral and injected steroids, his breathing is pretty bad most of the time. He gets the inhaler whenever he coughs or gasps (a couple of times a day) but he wheezes most of the day. He still seems happy enough though. He's also lost a little more weight but eats when I give them food and, again, seems quite happy.

I know about putting animals to sleep when pain gets to bad, but how will I know when his breathing is so labored that he's unhappy? His favorite activity is sleeping so it'll be difficult to tell when he doesn't enjoy his favorite activity anymore!

Anyway, I know this has been much discussed, I'm just wondering what your thoughts are on this. I feel strange taking him to the vet for care since I directly refused her advice and how do I know when I need a vet's visit as opposed to end of life care or action? If I DO go to the vet, how do I tell her that I want to care for him without putting him through any more trauma than I already have?

A lot of you have so much experience, I would really appreciate your advice. Any thoughts?

aslan
March 1st, 2010, 01:18 PM
rjesak,,,as an asthmatic i have a couple question for you..asthma is triggered by an allergic reaction to something,,has the vet tried to find what it is that Oscar is allergic to. Have you tried using an aircleaner in your home to help his breathing. The steroid the vet has him on is for the inflamation of his lungs, wouldn't it be a better idea to find the cause.

rjesak
March 1st, 2010, 01:26 PM
We so have!!! I eliminated fish and wheat from his diet. I have a VERY high quality air purifier downstairs in my home but Oscar is the same upstairs as down. I got rid of all scented cleaners and replaced them all with green unscented versions. We housed him at the vet briefly in the hopes that taking him out of my home environment might clue us in to whether or not it's something in the house, but we were not fortunate. The only time his breathing cleared was when he was in an oxygen cage.

They wanted to do a lung aspiration to determine the cause but I chose not to have that procedure. It's quite nasty and Oscar's asthma has been in attendance since I got him (he wheezed at the shelter when I adopted him). I discussed it at length with my friends and on this forum and decided that, as a diagnostic procedure, it wasn't worth the pain and stress for him.

sugarcatmom
March 1st, 2010, 05:13 PM
If I DO go to the vet, how do I tell her that I want to care for him without putting him through any more trauma than I already have?

Hopefully you have an understanding vet who can respect your decision and work with you on this. If not, I'd personally be looking for another vet (not sure how feasible that is for you). Just tell her how you feel. It's perfectly reasonable not to want to keep running test after test on your furry friend, especially if those tests are invasive (or expensive, or whatever the case may be). If a vet has an issue with that, they shouldn't be a vet. These are sentient, emotional beings we're talking about, not cells in a petri dish. YOU are Oscar's caregiver. YOU call the shots.

I'm sorry that Oscar's asthma continues to be an issue for him. Just take each day as it comes and do the best you can. You're going to be more in tune with him than anybody else on the planet, so keep an eye on his body language and his daily habits. Monitor the 5 Ps (peeing, pooping, playing, preening, and purring). If you think he's happy, then he probably is.
:grouphug:

14+kitties
March 1st, 2010, 05:28 PM
:grouphug: rjesak I am going through basically the same thing with my Brownie. I chose not to do more extensive searching for what is causing his issues. They couldn't find the cause with three blood tests and numerous draws at the office. I don't want to put him through the bone marrow testing and other tests only to be told one more time he isn't going to make it. :( For now he is enjoying himself. He is eating well, playing a little, bright eyed, walking paths with his cousin Meowzer at night, grooming, etc. I did make the decision to keep him on steroids as they help him on an even keel. I figure at this point if they help what will it hurt?
Maybe the Quality of Life scale will help you figure out when the time is right. I have it downloaded to make it easy for me to find it.

http://virtuavet.wordpress.com/petqualityoflife/qualityoflifescale/

Until that time keep loving him for all his is worth. You will treasure that time later. :cloud9::angel:

If I DO go to the vet, how do I tell her that I want to care for him without putting him through any more trauma than I already have?

We pay the vet. They, in effect, work for us. We decide what is best for our pets. We know them better than anyone. I have told my vet I will make the decision when the time is right. Until then he is getting the best care I can give him. Right now he is too busy living.

sugarcatmom
March 2nd, 2010, 07:26 AM
I can't remember now, what is the inhaled med that Oscar gets? Have you ever tried Flovent as a preventative?

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19647461?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed _ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&ordinalpos=1

catlover2
March 2nd, 2010, 11:11 PM
rjesak, Here are a couple of websites that may be helpful to you in making that final decision when Oscar has had enough of this life and when it's time to let him go. It's always a hard decision, and never gets easier. So sorry..... :goodvibes:

http://www.messybeast.com/euth2.htm

http://www.lisaviolet.com/cathouse/goodbye.html

rjesak
March 3rd, 2010, 03:14 PM
SCM, he's on an Albuterol inhaler and a Pred inhaler. I can't remember if we tried Flovent or not... I'll have to go back to my notes and his medical folder. We've gone through so many, I can't remember them all!

For the moment, Oscar is doing well enough. The biggest problem we have is that while he was losing weight, I was feeding him whatever he'd eat - now he thinks that he should climb into any plate he sees. He'll literally crawl onto the plate we're eating off of!!! :laughing: He's happy though even if he's not thriving. I just worry about knowing...

You're right though. I'll have a discussion with my vet about the situation and see how she's thinking. I haven't talked to her since I markedly did NOT take the specialist's advice on the lung aspiration so I've been hesitant but I think I need to contact her and see what her feelings on that were - she may have been in tune with it after all.

happycats
March 3rd, 2010, 04:04 PM
It's such a hard call.
I wish I had of done things differently with my cat Lucky ( died when he was 19)
After his first seizure (3 months prior to his death) he came out of it pretty good, ate fine, slept fine. I did notice that he developed this habit of "following" (followed anyone all the time, would never let us out of his sight) but never thought anything of it as all else was well.

When he had his next seizure (at 2AM) it was awful, he was running in circles, I had to hold him in my arms to stop him from running into things, then he became violent, hissing, spitting and growling like I had never heard before :cry: I had to wrap him tightly in a blanket to stop him from hurting himself or us....by the time we were able to control him enough to get him to the emergengy vet he died in my arms.

If I knew then (after the first seizure) what I know now, I would have had him PTS after the first seizure.

I still cry thinking how horrible those last few minutes must have been for him.

I'm sorry to upset you, but sometimes you just don't know when the time is right, and sometimes PTS earlier rather then later is better for all involved.

rjesak
March 4th, 2010, 01:07 PM
HappyCats,

You're not depressing me at all. That's a sad story but I guess that's kind of where my confusion is. I don't want to cut Oscar's life short at all, but I don't want him to suffer more than necessary either. His breathing is bad (like quite, quite bad). He's not having too many asthma attacks any more (a couple a day) but I cry when he's sitting on my lap because of the sound his lungs make. It actually breaks my heart when he purrs because it sounds even worse!

Most of the time, he seems happy right now, so I don't think we're there yet but I'm afraid of how this is going. I know he's going to die and I know it'll be sooner rather than later, but trying to tell the difference between what he needs, and what I want can become a pretty fine shade of grey.

I have an appointment to talk to my vet about it this evening so here's hoping!

Robin

happycats
March 4th, 2010, 01:34 PM
HappyCats,

You're not depressing me at all. That's a sad story but I guess that's kind of where my confusion is. I don't want to cut Oscar's life short at all, but I don't want him to suffer more than necessary either. His breathing is bad (like quite, quite bad). He's not having too many asthma attacks any more (a couple a day) but I cry when he's sitting on my lap because of the sound his lungs make. It actually breaks my heart when he purrs because it sounds even worse!

Most of the time, he seems happy right now, so I don't think we're there yet but I'm afraid of how this is going. I know he's going to die and I know it'll be sooner rather than later, but trying to tell the difference between what he needs, and what I want can become a pretty fine shade of grey.

I have an appointment to talk to my vet about it this evening so here's hoping!

Robin


I hope all goes well with you and Oscar at his appointment tonight, and I hope he has some quality time left with you :pray:

I feel your pain, It's such a difficult position to be in.
I have 4 other cats ranging in age from 14 to 17, so I will be in your position again, probably soon, but hopefully not to soon :(

hazelrunpack
March 4th, 2010, 09:52 PM
It is a very difficult decision, rjesak, and you'll probably never know if you get it perfectly right. But as long as the decision you make comes from your heart with Oscar's best interests in mind, you can't make a mistake. :grouphug: You just do the best you can and accept it as 'meant to be'.

I hope all went well at the vet today :goodvibes:

rjesak
March 8th, 2010, 07:42 AM
Well, I didn't end up getting to talk to my vet until today but she was very supportive. She hadn't particularly supported the lung aspiration but had meant to pass it along as the recommendation by the specialist. She was sorry she hadn't spoken to me directly at that time - she was out and a tech passed along the message. We have an appointment to talk more in-depth today but she said that, of course, she'll support me in whatever I choose to do.

Yay. I feel a little better anyway.

hazelrunpack
March 8th, 2010, 11:57 AM
A supportive vet can be such a blessing. :goodvibes: for your meeting today. :grouphug:

rjesak
March 8th, 2010, 12:33 PM
We just got off the phone and she had a really good suggestion! Oscar is particularly tough because he's always been an impressively lazy cat so his activities are hard to quantify but she suggested I sit down and make a very specific list of what he likes to do and what he's like now. This has the benefit of being able to see clearly whether or not he's still doing the things he likes as well as bringing personality changes into clear relief. Because cats are so stoic, they rarely let you see how they're really feeling and personality changes can be a very distinctive sign.

When I thought about that it made me very, very sad even while it gave me something to point to. Oscar's personality has changed a lot over the past month. He used to be my shadow - he was always wherever I was. Now, he tends to stay where I put him. If I take him upstairs, he stays there. If he's downstairs, he stays there. He'll always show up in the kitchen if he thinks food is happening but other than that, he's so not my shadow. :cry2:

I don't think it's time yet but I did make a list of what he likes to do - speaking of which, I need to fix the phone cord he ate through (it's already only about three feet long because he's eaten through it so many times).

Anyway, I just thought I'd share. I knew about the activities part but it hadn't occurred to me to describe him so that I can see personality changes when they happen without questioning myself. It's a good idea. Thanks everyone for all the good ideas. It's tough but it's being a mommy.

hazelrunpack
March 8th, 2010, 12:47 PM
That is a great idea, rjesak!

Yes, it can be very tough to be a mommy sometimes :( but I think you're a wonderful mommy :grouphug:

Sending along lots of :goodvibes: for Oscar!