A couple of weeks before Christmas, I noticed that Whiskey wasn't eating as much as usual. He appeared to be in pain when he tried to eat, so I checked his mouth. It looked pretty bad, especially one upper canine tooth which was pretty inflamed. I brought him to my vet for some antibiotics and to have bloodwork done, so I could arrange to have the tooth extracted as soon as possible. My vet gave me some clydamycin, which I knew was good for oral infections. Almost immediately the antibiotic gave him bad diarrhea, which I knew is sometimes a side effect of that and other antibiotics. I was really busy at work around that time, and with my own business as well. I was working 18 hours a day, and trying to hand feed Whiskey with a syringe....and the diarrhea was everywhere! I'd no sooner get it cleaned up when it would be all over the place again, and by now he wasn't eating anything on his own either.
So I went back to my vet and got some flagyl, a different type of antibiotic, and one which is also helpful for diarrhea. Meanwhile, his bloodwork came back showing him to be in excellent health for his age. I was thrilled! I figured that as soon as I could get the diarrhea under control, he could get the tooth out, the pain would be gone, and he would start eating again. By the next day, the vomiting had begun as well, and nothing I syringed into him was staying down. I was so busy and frazzled at work, I just could'nt manage cleaning up after him, and trying to syringe feed him. He wouldn't eat, and I was frustrated with that, and with the non-stop diarrhea which was all over the couch and everywhere else. I made a decision which I regret now, and I dropped him off at the vet thinking they would take care of everything. I feel so guilty about this now.
I called the vet every few hours over the next two days for an update, but things weren't going well. Still, I wasn't that worried, the bloodwork showed him to be a healthy cat. Certainly the vet would take care of the diarrhea and vomiting. On the third day, a Wednesday, my vet told me to come and pick him up that evening after work, that nothing more could be done, she said they had tried everything. As a last resort, she sent me home with an enzyme that may stop the problem, but if it didn't work, I'd have to bring him back within two days to be euthanized.
What! I was totally shocked, and I still didn't really believe her. I had stopped diarrhea before with bland boiled chicken breast. I would just pick him up and get him some chicken and he'd be fine. That was Wednesday evening, Dec. 20th. He wouldn't eat the chicken, wouldn't eat anything. I syringe fed him baby food, and the canned i/d the vet had given me. It was not staying down, or in. Everything I tried to feed him either came up, or went out, no sooner than it went in. I was really worried now, so much weight he'd lost, and so quickly! Nothing changed on Thursday, just more of the same.
On Friday I was so busy at work, and crying the whole time, just waiting until I could get out of there and get home to Whiskey Lee. Finally, I was able to leave work and go home. I called my husband who had stayed home from work that day. He told me Whiskey was almost gone now. I cried my eyes out all the way home through the L.A. traffic. When I finally got there, my husband told me he'd passed. Devastated, I ran to the bathroom where we'd been keeping him the last couple of days in a cozy bed. When he saw me, he lifted his head, cried, and tried to get up. "No, he's still alive"! I cried out to my husband, who later told me that Whiskey must have been saving the last bit of energy he had waiting to say goodbye to me. I'll never forget the expression on Whiskey's face at that moment, it was one of such intense fear and panic, and I felt like he was begging me to help him. I thought to take him to the vet then, but it didn't really seem like I'd even make it there in time, at that point he appeared to be so close to death, and it was late, I'd have to go to emergency.
For the next five hours he held on. I lay beside him in the bathroom crying. I tried to reassure him that Heaven was a beautiful place, and I told him it was OK to go now, and that I'd meet him there one day. I syringed drops of water into his mouth so he wouldn't be dehydrated. I placed a pillow under his head, and put him on a heating pad to keep him warm.
Meanwhile, there was a Barbara Walters special on TV that night about whether or not heaven really exists. It could not have aired at a more fitting time. I brought a small TV into the bathroom and I watched it with Whiskey, explaining things to him, trying to reassure him. Eventually, his breath became more and more shallow, until it was his last.
Where once his body lay soft and warm, it was cold now, and stiff. I thanked God that his expression was peaceful. Unofficially, the diagnosis they'd given me when they released him from the hospital was FIP, a fatal disease, but we'll never really know. I chose not to have an autopsy done, what difference did it really make, he was gone, and nothing could change that.
The next day, I brought him to the pet cemetary and had him cremated. He looked so handsome, wrapped in a beautiful blue baby blanket holding some favorite toys and lovely flowers. I kissed him before handing him over.
I find my peace in knowing that my beloved Angel "Gem" would be there waiting to help him, and keep him safe. Gem died of cancer in May of 2001, and I've documented my version of his Journey To Kitty Heaven here.
Meanwhile, Whiskey's other brother "Shelby" will be taking the journey soon as well, and will join both of them. "Shelby" was diagnosed with Chronic Renal Failure 10 months ago, long before I had any hint that Whiskey would go on to heaven before he would. Shelby still hangs in there, living on borrowed time. Each of his remaining days on earth are a blessed gift God gives me.