This weekend proved to be quite upsetting. Squishy took a turn for the worst, and we had to say goodbye to him. It was absolutely awful. He changed so very quickly – from a bright, frisky, playful kitten to flat, lethargic and weak. It broke my heart that no matter what we did it wasn’t enough. This is not the first time a foster kitten in my care has passed away, and it isn’t uncommon in general – but I really had hoped I wouldn’t lose any from this litter. Especially not at their age and with such developed personalities; how could you not get attached?
Little Squishy just wasn’t himself on Saturday. He had had diarrhoea that week and after being checked by a vet ulcers were discovered in his mouth. This can be a sign of a virus, but the vet noticed a strange uniform pattern to the ulcers which could have suggested it was something he was born with – I had hoped this was the case. He was checked once earlier in the week and given some pain relief for a sore tummy, and put on a prescription diet to aid his digestion. After being checked a second time last week (when his ulcers were observed) it was found he did not have a temperature – at that point we weren’t really sure what was going on but he seemed to be doing fine.
Saturday, though, the kittens were out playing at lunch time but Squish was sleeping in their bed. This was so unlike him; usually he’d be out running around with the rest. I called the vet and took him for a visit that afternoon, by which point he was so weak I couldn’t believe it was him. We gave him some subcutaneous fluids, an antibiotic injection and a different prescription diet I was to syringe feed into him every hour, but he had developed a raging fever and the prognosis was guarded.
By that night he was toileting on himself and wobbling when he tried to move. In tears, I contacted the vet who let me know he would be in the clinic at about 9pm to tend to some animals and offered to see Squish again. I was ready to have him put to sleep – I was in denial emotionally but I knew it had to be done if he wasn’t improving.
The trip was a small surprise – the vet advised there were a couple of other things we could try (since Squish was still gobbling down the food every time I gave it to him without vomiting, and his hydration had massively imroved) so we gave him a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory to help his fever and the plan was to see how he went overnight. The prognosis was still very guarded, but both the veterinarian and I wanted to give him a chance.
Sunday morning I was afraid to check on Squishy, but he was still tucked up asleep in bed. I was glad to see he had lost the wobbly motion since his fever had come down, but soon realised he couldn’t stand. I tried to give him some breakfast but he merely spat it out. I made the decision, feeling a huge sense of guilt and sorrow, and took him back to the vet to say goodbye.
I hate, hate, hate saying goodbye to loved ones. My family has never opted to put an animal down before – we have lost them, but never ourselves have made the decision. Working at a veterinary clinic has gotten me very used to euthanasia but it is never easy, and I always feel sadness for those who will obviously grieve for their pets. Squishy was only with us for a few weeks and even though I knew I would not be keeping him either way I still got so very attached. I feel guilt for not being able to see him through to getting a home – guilt that I couldn’t save him from whatever illness made him so weak. Situations like that are out of one’s control though, and you can only blame the disease.
I’m sorry, Squishy. We’ll cherish you always.