Pets are like family members. Or at least they are to us. We share our homes with them and our lives. Most times we also share our hearts with them. I mean how can you not? They stay with us through the good times and the bad. They see us at our best and at our worst. Through all this they stay loyal to us and never judge us (or at least not often that is).
I believe that if you have animals you have a great responsibility towards them. After all, they did not choose to live with you, most time we choose them. As such we have a responsibility to them to make sure that they are safe and that their physical, mental and emotional needs are taken care of. So what happens when one of your animals grow old and sick? What happens when one of your furry family member’s cycle of life creeps closer to its end? What do you do? This is what hubby and I had to face this week and sometimes it is heartbreaking.
You see Mizou, one of our oldest cats and matriarch of the house, who just celebrated her fifteen birthday in September with her sister has lately been having some medical issues. A couple of months ago we noticed that her eye sight was failing. She also developed incontinence and you could see that her body was growing old. Fifteen is old for a cat, even though some cats can live well into their early twenties. However with each breed it is different. Not worrying too much about some of her symptoms, due to her advanced age, hubby and I decided to monitor her and if it got worse to take her to the vet for checkups. And she did get worse.
About a month ago we noticed that she had what looked like blood in her one eye and the vet told us that she suffered from glaucoma and hypertension. All of which were directly related to her age. It was sad to hear that the vet could not really do anything for her affected eye and that she had gone blind in that eye due to the optic nerve being damaged. The vet also indicated that she only had about 20% vision left in the other eye and that, in all likelihood, she would eventually lose her vision completely. But we did not expect it to happen so soon.
When I got back from work on Monday I heard Mizou meowing in the back garden. I called out for her but she did not come to me as she normally does. Eventually I made my way to her and I found her standing in the backyard looking completely lost. It was clear that she was disorientated and did not exactly know where she was. I picked her up and immediately noticed that the eye which had the last 20% vision left had also now gone blind. I felt immense sadness for her and gave her a reassuring hug and told her that everything will be ok. “So what if you are blind now, it’s not the end of the world. You still have many years left in you and we will make the best of it” I told her and she gave me a soft purr and a meow as if she understood what I had said.
I was told that we should go about our lives as we had done before and not to change anything. Mizou will adjust to her blindness but it will take some time. She will learn to make her way through the house based on her other senses and memory. The only thing that we must not do is move furniture around or change where we feed her. We should also move one of the litter boxes inside the house as she will struggle getting in and out of windows. Watching her slowly move through the house, occasionally bumping into things is rather sad to watch. We are not allowed to help her too much as she will have to learn to get around on her own. Sometimes this is difficult and I literally have to stop myself.
It was advised that we voice train her and she picked this up right away. Being guided by our voices seems to come naturally to her. The other cats have not really noticed that Mizou has gone blind and they appear to be somewhat confused about what is going on with her. The bunnies on the other hand were the first to pick up that Mizou is blind. They no longer try and chase her and they are much gentler when they are around her than they were before.
My only concern with Mizou and her disability is how she will cope outside. On Friday evening she almost walked straight into the pool and that was when she had 20% vision left. Now that she is completely blind the garden poses quite a few risks for her, the pool and the pool net being just one of them. Also, when our adoption is finalized and we finally have a baby in the house this will also have an impact on her: the pool will be covered with a net which could make it impossible for her to get out of the pool if she falls in being blind; and a baby won’t understand what blindness is and Mizou could accidentally get injured. I guess there are a lot of “what ifs” here but I am sure that we will cope.
Good friends of ours also went through a traumatic event on Monday. Their dog also went blind a couple of months ago due to a medical condition. On Monday his condition deteriorated to the point where the vet told them there was nothing more that could be done for him and that it is recommended that he be euthanized. This is the most awful news a vet can ever give you. But it was what was best for him and they had to say goodbye. I am fortunate that I have never had to euthanize any of my animals and I dread the day that I will be told it is our last option. I’d rather pay a shit load of money on medical expenses in order to make sure my animals get the best medical attention there is and euthanasia is only the last resort. But sometimes we must make hard decisions and what is best is not always easy to do.
Our cat has gone blind, has no bladder control and is old. I guess this is what happens when you get old – you pee yourself and walk into things. She has been in our lives for the last fifteen years and she loves us unconditionally as we do her. I don’t know how many years she will still be with us but as longs as she is here I am going to make sure that her retirement is as comfortable as possible. Just because she is blind and possibly may need a kitty diaper doesn’t mean that she cannot enjoy life. I hope that one day when hubby and I are in the retirement home we will be afforded the same courtesy. Wouldn’t you?
Till next time.