Monday, May 19, 2008

A Sprite Among the Stars

This afternoon was a weird one, to be sure. But, the events that led to it began a few days ago, so let me digress. My wife Kim took Kayleigh, our long-haired Seal Point Himalayan kitty cat into the groomers last Saturday morning. The groomer works at our long-time favorite Vet clinic, Center Vet in Mira Mesa. It had been quite awhile since the last grooming (nothing unusual there) and so the mattes were so close to the skin that she was going to need to be anesthetized in order to trim her hair. We'd done this before.

One look told the Vet that putting her to sleep for the grooming would also put her at grave risk. She'd lost 50% of her body mass since he last saw her - later on we figured that was about 2 months. He was worried. With all that fur, it was hard for us to tell! He advised us to let him do a full blood panel on her to see what was causing the weight loss (and lethargy that we'd noticed for awhile).

When I picked Kayleigh up, the doctor asked to speak with me. Etho was tagging along as we entered Exam Room #1 (where, coincidentally, there is a cool picture of a younger River dog on the wall). Dr. Matthew Bigelow, who donated some good things to our "cause" during the time I ran the Mira Mesa Dog Owners Group, delivered some crushing news: Kayleigh was in chronic kidney failure, which by the time we humans typically detect it means 70% of her kidneys were not functioning.

The choices were slim: Aggressive, costly treatment at an emergency clinic to see if she would respond at all, and if so daily management of her diabetes and dehydration for the next few months of her remaining life, or what he termed "humane euthanization." Whoa. I took Kayleigh out of there as fast as I could, home to Kim and family. Still... it was clear that the road was short.

We made her comfortable, but she was not drinking or eating at this point. She weighed barely over 4 lbs and remained lethargic over the weekend. This morning I called Center Vet and made an afternoon appointment with the inevitable. The first injection made her comfortably numb, the second made her sleepy, and the third stopped her heart. Kim stroked her pretty head as the spark went out in her blue eyes.

What makes us love our pets so deeply? There is a human-animal connection that grows over time, from the nurturing and playfulness of a small kitten, to a faithful and always gentle soul. Kayleigh was hands-down the sweetest cat I've ever had the pleasure of knowing, made sweeter by her symbiosis with Kim. Bella, our young Vizsla, tortured her a bit, but she never got terribly upset (just found ways to hide out!). River and the other cat Gracie were more her pals and her speed. Later in life, Etho and Emily woke up and loved her deeply.

She used to lay on Kim's chest in bed, purring as Kim's nails grooved the underside of her furry neck, and stroked along her spine. Almost always, drool from the kitty's chin would drip-drip onto Kim's t-shirt. We laughed, while Kayleigh reveled in the attention. That's what I'll remember of her 13-year life: how much she made Kim totally happy.

Good luck prancing and purring, drooling and running about in Heaven, Kayleigh. We'll see your sweetness every night when we look to the sky - as a sprite among the stars!

1 comment:

Dee said...

Dear Kev,
So sorry to hear about your kitty. Those decisions are tough to make and carry through, because you know you'll miss your companion but it would be selfish to keep him/her around and in discomfort. I know I've done it more times than I ever wanted to, including helping a friend a couple of months ago.
We miss you and Kim and the kids and will let you know next time we travel to SoCal. Dee