January 15, 2003

One of the hardest things about my job is helping to make the decision when to end a life. It's the one thing I hate about my job the most. Cats are supposed to just go to sleep and not wake up one day. Cats are not supposed to get cancer or heart disease or high blood pressure. But they do. When a disease has managed to overcome them, and their small body does not want to make the decision to leave their human, sometimes you need to point them in the right direction.

I had to assist in a home euthanasia today on a cat named Moogi. Moogi was a short haired kitty that looked very much like my Coconut. Moogi, with a big apple head and a short stocky body, had cancer that wrapped around his colon and urethra, preventing him from performing the basic functions required for life. Surgery couldn't fix this, neither could radiation or chemo. The cancer was highly malignant and the oncologist said it would only return in time. So his humans decided that he should just be comfortable until he said it was time for him to go. Today, a cold, windy, clear day in January, and Moogi has not urinated for almost 2 days. It's time.

We arrive at the house, a very nice house. A house any cat would love to live in. His humans had the fireplace going for him, because he loves to lay on his favorite armchair and relax by the fire. We're talking a full-blown wood burning fireplace, not one of those fake gas things. It crackles, and the smell of hickory fills the room.

Of course, they are already in tears about their cat... how could they not? They were waiting for us to arrive to take their cat from them. Moogi is in his chair cleaning his leg, as if nothing in the world was wrong. He looks up at us as if to say "Hello! I did not know we were having company?" I start to tear up right then and there. He has no idea what is going to happen.

We draw up some sedation for him so he will sleep for the entire procedure. I tell his humans that they can go ahead and pick him up and love on him and hold him for as long as they need to. They can let us know when they are ready to let him go. A slight stick, which he didn't even notice, and it's only a matter of moments when Moogi is in his anesthetic sleep.

Both of his humans sit on the couch with him as he slumbers peacefully, his dad holding him like a baby and telling him how sorry he was there was nothing they could do to fix him.

It's over in a matter of seconds when the second and last injection is given I.V. and he relaxes in their arms and takes his last sigh. A tiny, trusting soul, peacefully transformed into a kind of stuffed animal, a container to be respectfully taken care of, now that the soul has moved on to better things.

Moogi had a peaceful exit, a good death. Moogi got to move on at home, in a safe, comfortable place, with the people that loved him surrounding him, touching him, holding him.

As we leave, I tell the doctor I work with that I'm sick of putting on my black feathered wings, holding small kitty paws to direct them where to stand in line for reincarnation.

But then again, I had the honor to share the last few moments of a cat's life.

Posted by Ellen at January 15, 2003 07:34 PM

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God Bless Moogi, and rest his sole!

Sad for his humans.

Posted by: Cindy on January 15, 2003 10:59 PM

Oh sure, first my dog, now I gotta read this to get me to crying again. I don't know how you do it!

Posted by: Bogie on January 15, 2003 11:46 PM

That story had me in tears because my Grandmother passed away this morning.

Posted by: Dawn on January 16, 2003 12:21 AM

Imagine it is your father who is in that condition. Are you too selfishness to help him leave before his body fails totally? Or are you willing to help him die on his own terms?

I don't think I'm done grieving yet. :(

Posted by: Byna on January 16, 2003 03:35 AM

Byna, grieving is a long process so let your self grieve. The first year is the hardest you have so many firsts, but remember time does heal and you will get to the point where the good memories out weigh the sad ones.
It is very sad when we have to watch loved ones who go through long, painful deaths. One reason I became an RN is to try to help families through this ordeal.

Ellen is very special in the way she relates to animals and can help them and their families. Well she is special to me in any number of ways.

Posted by: Pat on January 16, 2003 12:35 PM

Aww, Ellen. Moogli was fortunate in that he led a loved life and felt only love and comfort in his last moments. Many cats do not get even that...I'm very much not looking forward to when my furbabies have to leave me =(

Posted by: Pam on January 16, 2003 02:20 PM

God bless Ellen for being such a good friend to our dear pets and to us, as well. Two and one half years ago, we had to make the decision to euthanize our 16 year old German Shorthaired Pointer. It was the only right thing to do, and we didn't want her (or our) last memory to be in the cold and frightening surroundings of the clinic. Thankfully, though Sophie's vet was out of town, one of the other doctors from the same clinic (along with an assistant) came to our home, and Sophie Lou was quickly and comfortably released from her body in her own backyard and in my husband's arms. It was early on a warm evening in late August, and we will be forever thankful to the young, smart, brave woman doctor who helped us to make the end of our Sophie Girl's life a little less painful. Ellen,we need you and your kind very very much.

Posted by: Ruth on January 31, 2003 07:16 PM
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