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Some good days

Posted by joeabbott on March 7, 2012

P1040726I started this post with the name “A thousand little deaths”; last Friday and Saturday when we were coming to grips with Spencer’s terminal condition, everything was a deep, stabbing pain. All his stumbles and challenges and stuff you see when you hyper-scrutinize a situation were magnified. We still feel an intense, urgent sense of loss and anger throughout the week but there have been far more “good times” than I’d expected.

Let’s talk a bit about the good times.

We’re still feeding him three times a day. We were going to stop because the feedings were terrible. He’s stopped eating on his own and we were just forcing food down his throat. It broke our hearts even though we knew it was necessary.

After we said, “we’ll stop”, Spencer helped us out by going to his food dish and sniffing about. We showed him five types of food but he wouldn’t eat a thing: he wanted to eat, but whatever is killing him won’t let him take a bite. OK, Spence … if you want to eat, we’ll find a way to help.

When we started out we were all a mess by the end; both emotionally and physically. Now things are easier: we know how much Spencer will take and when he’s telling us to stop, we know how to approach him so he’s more accepting of the squirt of food, and when it’s over we have warm towels to clean him off and ready him for his fluids. Syringe feeding a cat is an art that I’m still getting used to but doing better.

When we first started feeding him we didn’t know those things but now we do. Spence gets a full belly and when he’s done, he settles in for zoning out or a little nap. I feel good that we’re getting food into him and that he’s not starving and he’s managing a very slow weight loss. Also, getting regular amounts of food keeps down the stomach acids that were causing him the extreme drooling we saw earlier. He drools a bit but much less now than earlier.

In the first days of his latest bout, Spencer’s hind legs would start to splay out. Dr. Wilford noted this wasn’t uncommon but it broke the heart to see. We’ve now put down carpets in the places he’ll walk so his feet have better grip (than on the hardwood floors) and don’t slip. And, he gets carried around a bunch, too. Overall he’s still weak but we’ve given him a bit of a helping hand.

The same thing with getting onto the end of the couch, his favorite spot. We’ve laid down a mattress protector, several down throws we can easily launder, and built him a set of steps to get up. The first step is a support for my miter saw, the second step a jig I built when I needed to custom build something, and the third step is a couple 2×4 cut-offs screwed onto a slab of walnut. On top of this we added a rubber-backed rug and he has a nice little walkway to his favorite resting place.

P1040734Around the house we’ve added additional comforts for Spencer: piled blankets in the front room where he catches the early morning sun, a step into his litter box and extra sand inside so he can more easily get out, a cushion from the deck furniture in the hall where he sometimes likes to sit. These are the little comforts that make it easier for him to get around and be comfortable when he’s there.

In between we sit with him and he’s back to his old self: immediately purring when you start petting him in the morning and finding comfort in the early afternoon sun. Thank goodness we’re getting a sunny week here in Seattle.

The sun also means he can walk around the yard, explore places, or just sit in the sun on the deck. Looking glorious, of course.

It’s good spending time with him and seeing him physically stable and enjoying it. He always has been a cat who’s liked getting pets and being part of the family. The near future warns of pain and saying good-bye, but these days are good days; full of quality time with Spencer.


One Response to “Some good days”

  1. Jay Abbott said

    Wonderful Joe. I’m so glad you two are able to have this time with Spencer. Hat’s off to you as well for pulling back from an amazingly demanding job to put what’s most important where it belongs.


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