Pure, unconditional love is one of the main joys of living with an animal. I believe animals have souls, and anyone who has ever had their cat comfort them in a moment of need will agree.
When the cat you remembered as a frisky kitten grows gray fur and can no longer chase toys (or toes) it is the first sad sign that they won’t be with us forever. It is not fair but that is the time we must step up and look for ways to give our friend a happy, dignified old age.
If your cat’s health issues are severe, shifting your focus from a cure to comfort may be necessary. Enter hospice care.
This could mean a medical facility or it could be doing whatever you can at home to give your cat the best possible life in its final days. It is essential to work with your vet. You may have to learn how to perform some medical procedures such as administering injections, pills or changing dressings.
You also have to be extra-alert for changes in behavior or appearance and be pro-active in staving off any pain. Cats with liver and kidney problems can be good candidates for hospice care. Some cancers can also be handled.
Sure, it’s stressful and potentially unpleasant. It can also be a lot of work. But try to remember that you are deepening the bond with your cat — even with the knowledge that your time together is limited. Your cat will be in familiar surroundings — and good hospice care means more time to love each other even as you prepare to say goodbye.
You want to keep your cat around as long as possible but remember their quality of life is paramount. When your cat continues to decline even with medication and the most loving care, try to make that last, heart-wrenching decision before your good friend starts to suffer.
If you are considering pet hospice care, you may find the following resources useful.