My beloved Sasha has been by my side for over 20 years. She has seen me through some of the worst times in my life and has always been there for me, loving me unconditionally. I have faced many challenges to date; from burying my mother, to competing in bodybuilding competitions, to divorces and heartache, to writing a book. Nothing compares to the anguish of watching my girls decline and making the ultimate decision for her to leave this world.
Himalayan cats are a cross between Persians and Siamese. They have a very placid, quiet nature and are a member of what I call the princess breeds. They loll around the house looking stunning with their big blue eyes and luscious coat, with the least amount of activity possible and conduct themselves with an air of royalty. They are incredibly loyal; my girl has always been very much my cat and totally in tune with my energy and emotion to the point of uncanny synchronicity. Not overly affectionate as the thick coat brings heat when cuddling, but still wanting a close connection. I have fallen asleep with her paw in my hand many times. Respectful and faithful; a true companion that derives happiness from simply being in your presence without being demanding.
Life expectancy for Himalayans is usually around 16 human years. My precious girl turned 20 last October! She has been on my miracle supplement for the past two and half years along with me. As so often has been the case, when I have had some form of injury or illness she seems to follow. She tore ligaments in her knee at the same time I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my knees back in 2013. I have no doubt that Laminine has extended her life and I am so very grateful for the additional time we have shared.
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
Mid-January was when her decline started. Night howling was the first symptom and only between the hours of 1 and 5am! Anti-anxiety tablets were prescribed as, once again, she suffers from a similar ailment to me, although I have not had problems with my own anxiety for some time. She has been on a special renal diet for many years, kidney problems were always going to surface at the end and urinary tract infections emerged. Once again a condition I have suffered from throughout my adult life. Like I said, uncanny similarities!
With countless trips to the vet in the early stages as a protocol was established eventually I was supporting her from home as I mastered the art of injecting fluids every second day and administering countless tablets to keep her comfortable. Mixing up special, tempting food concoctions, rearranging my apartment ensuring she had everything she needed in easy reach, rocking and cradling her to sleep in the wee hours. It has been a 24/7 commitment and responsibility I take very seriously. And even now looking back I still don’t feel I did enough.
The magic that steroids provide kept her with me for an additional two months. However, there are consequences for dependence on such a drug as they put additional strain on an already weakened renal system. I learned to be grateful for each passing day but knew it was only a matter of time. So hard to know when the right time is; doing it too soon could rob you of some of the last happy days together. Doing it too late could rob her of dignity as well as enduring pain and suffering. And I learned that what comes with this emotional roller coaster ride is good days and bad; a glimmer of hope of recovery, only to be dashed with a bad day. Everyone kept telling me you will know when, she will tell you. I didn’t believe anyone until it happened..
Pet ownership is a huge responsibility. It is a lifetime responsibility and needs to be treated with the same respect as any family member. It is not just about the joy of welcoming a new puppy or kitten into your home and the following adult years when times are good and life is easy. It is in the senior years that loyalty must be repaid, stepping up and going the extra mile during the bad times, looking after your pet as you would a dying parent or child, being there until the very end no matter how hard it gets. I was determined to repay 20 years of loyalty and “whatever it takes” was my motto, as my heart broke on a daily basis. I surprised myself as to what I actually could do; if you had told me a year ago I would be injecting fluids into my angel I would have said I never could. We are all capable of heroic actions when circumstances warrant and when our loved ones lives depend on us. I have compromised my training, my sleep, my job and my finances to nurse her through and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
Another important factor in responsible pet ownership, in my opinion, is a long term relationship with your veterinarian. I have been seeing Dr Steve Anich at Drummoyne Veterinary Hospital for 10 years! He knows both Sasha and I very well. I initially made the decision on the 6th of February to put her down. Steve overrode my decision advising that there were still a number of treatments available, that she was not suffering and I got an additional 2 months! I have been truly blessed to have the support of the most amazing vet through this ordeal. A vet I trust explicitly and whose guidance not only allowed me extra time but enabled me to support my girl in ways I didn’t think I was capable of. It has been a roller coaster beyond belief and I do not know how I would have coped without his and his teams support. From his in-depth knowledge, to his compassion, understanding and patience. Thank you just doesn’t seem enough for the enormous role he has played in both mine and Sasha’s life.
My life will never be the same without my princess. I have been blessed with an angel watching over me for so long. I know she will continue to and we will be together again soon. My only consolation is that she is finally at peace. I hold on to the vision of her final days to try and reassure myself that it was definitely time and I pray that she didn’t suffer as hard as I tried to prevent it.
I have owned a few cats in my time but the connection I had with Sasha I can only describe as to that of a soul mate. Every day when I walk through the door to a silent, empty apartment my heart breaks all over again. I thought I was prepared after nearly 3 months of watching her every move and anticipating the end. There is nothing that can prepare you for this excruciating pain. I hope the daily crying stops soon.
Goodbye my gorgeous girl. I love you with all my heart and soul. Thank you so much for your unconditional love for so long. So many people say how lucky you were to have had a Mum like me, but the truth is that I am the lucky one. I feel honoured to have shared my life with you. I miss you so very much. xoxo