Our very sick cat, Roswell, is gone

August 16, 2010 · 27 comments

I hate typing those words. I hate knowing this is now my new reality, that Roswell, our 14 or 15 year old cat is now dead.

This draft was started on July 11th, I was going to write an update on Roswell’s current condition but I never finished it and now it’s a good bye post. I do also want to say sorry for not posting about my training.

She had been sick since February. Our cat, Roswell, was diagnosed with mammary cancer, essentially breast cancer, in October 2005. She had a tumor removed that month and another one in July 2006. Her cancer returned this past February to her lungs and in March, we found out it had metastasized to her one of her feet and was given 6-12 weeks.

This is one of my favorite pictures of Roswell. She loved looking out the window.

She had been slowing down more and more but did have a little time a couple of weeks ago where she seemed to bounce back a little, she was acting her regular self but during the last couple of weeks, she was getting worse.

This last week was pretty hard, she was not getting around very well and not eating much, if anything. On Friday night, she seemed to have a pretty hard time and on Saturday, we both knew what was coming and called our vet. She was very nice, as always, and offered to meet us the next day (even though the clinic is closed and Sunday would be the day before her vacation started) to put Roswell to sleep.

On Sunday, I was anxiously awaiting my brother’s arrival. He was coming to visit for a week, driving from Texas. We had made the decision, I think, while he was already on his way and didn’t want to stress him out by telling him over the phone. I told him of our decision when he arrived. He got to see Roswell for one last time. I’m so lucky to have a brother who loves my pets so much and I would say almost as much as we do. He used to be our regular petsitter before he moved to Houston to go to college. I could see the upset in his eyes to see Roswell in her condition.

I was really avoiding calling our vet to schedule a time, I clipped coupons and I even put leftovers in the oven to heat up. I was just avoiding calling her. Less than two hours after my brother arrived, Roswell came out from under the bed and right outside our bedroom, she collapsed and she passed away. My husband had a heard a noise and called to me from the bedroom, I rushed over and saw her. What I saw will be forever etched in my memory. I have to say this was a traumatic experience. He scooped her up into a blanket, I tried calling our vet and then yelled over to my brother that we needed to leave.

We took her to the emergency vet but we knew in our hearts, she was already gone. We needed to take her to make sure she was gone and no longer in pain. On the way, our vet returned my call and agreed it was a good idea to take her there. I don’t remember the conversation, it was a complete blur. I just remember conveying my guilt that maybe we waited too long? She told me not to beat myself up and that she at least was surrounded by everyone who loved her. This is true, she was surrounded by everyone who loved her, even my brother.

A technician at the emergency vet clinic took her in the back to what I assume was the vet on duty and came back out to announce to us that she was, in fact, gone. They were very nice there. They gave us some time in a room with her and told us about our options. Of course, we both completely lost it. We chose a private cremation and for the remains to be returned to us. Her remains, when they are returned to us, will go up on a shelf next to her buddy, our older dog, Cinder’s remains.

On that shelf, we have a picture of Cinder and Roswell together and when I looked at it yesterday, I lost it again.

This just plain sucks…I’m not very articulate right now. I hope I’m even making some sense in writing this post. We have gone through this before but nothing prepares you for something like this. I just know that I feel a huge emptiness in my heart. I also feel guilt that we may have waited too long and caused her more unneeded suffering. And I also play the scene over and over again in my head of what happened yesterday.

I feel horrible because my brother and his girlfriend are here visiting and I just have this cloud of grief over me. Yesterday, after coming back from the emergency vet, Curtis and I tried to take a nap but it didn’t work. We got out of the house, went grocery shopping and did a training walk. I think it was the hardest training walk so far for me. When I tried to go to bed last night, all I could do was cry. I was able to hold it together during the day when we were out and about but now couldn’t.

I also feel horrible for Clone, our 5 year old orange tabby, all day yesterday, he was going around to her usual spots looking for her.

I know in my mind that Roswell is no longer in any pain but my heart breaks because I miss her so much. To me, it’s an end of an era. The two pets (Cinder and Roswell) that have always been a constant in our relationship have now passed on, leaving an empty hole. I know we will be fine and as time goes on it will be easier but right now, but right now it feels so raw. I hope with time, I will be able to write more about Roswell…who was one tough cat. We loved her so much and gave her so much, she gave us so much in return.

I wanted to share these pictures, taken in April, Charley was wagging his tail in her face and she kept grabbing his tail.

He is so goofy!

Tap tap of that tail, she couldn't resist.

And one more

My sister told me yesterday on the phone that we gave her a good life, I know she felt so bad for me and didn’t know what to say. I don’t remember exactly what I told her but I think I said something like, right now that doesn’t even matter to me, it just hurts so much.

Curtis used to say that he wished they would go on their own and we wouldn’t have to make the decision to put them to sleep but I had a feeling he would be eating his words. There are some people in our lives who have said to us how peaceful it is when they go naturally at home. I disagree completely, it was traumatic and awful. Death is not pretty and no matter how our pets go, I think it’s hard and there is no preferred way to go.

Thank you for the kindness and kind thoughts everyone has shared with us. We really appreciate it and I hope if you have pets of your own, you’ll give them a hug and a kiss from us.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Lorie Shewbridge August 16, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Julie, I am so sorry to hear that you lost a family member – and YES, that is exactly what our pets are, part of our family. I know that Roswell was very happy to have you in her life and although it was a very painful thing to have her pass the way she did, she chose to go surrounded by those she loved and she knew loved her.
Please know you and your family are in my heart and prayers. Big hugs!

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Frantic Holly August 17, 2010 at 12:16 pm

I’m so sorry for your loss Julie. I have to agree that losing them at home is a million times worse. While I hope Roswell went peacefully I’m sure the startling realization that he was indeed gone was overly traumatic. I can’t imagine life without our kitties. ((HUGS))

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Ellen B. August 17, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Julie, I’m so very sorry about Roswell. You made some really good decisions for her, even though it’s nothing but heartbreaking. It may have been her time to leave her wonderful home on this earth, but I know she will never be forgotten. I will be thinking of you.

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Paula August 17, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Julie I know that it is so very hard for you right now but you should not feel in any way that you waited too long. Roswell passed in the best place possible for him. At home, where he was deeply loved and cared for over the past 14-15 years. I know if I were sick I would want to be surrounded by my family rather than in a sterile (even if caring) environment.
He was a member of your family and you all, including Charley, have to grieve the loss of her. Writing about her so eloquently in this post clearly defines your sense of loss and all of us who read this can empathize with how you are feeling. My heart goes out to you sweetie.
When the pain is not so raw, you can take comfort in the fact that for 14-15 years Roswell was a very happy, content, well-cared for and extremely loved cat. Looking back at all the photos you have taken of her will one day bring a smile to your face instead of tears. Time is the only healer in situations such as this.
Take good care. Many hugs.

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Sandy Bobalik August 17, 2010 at 8:12 pm

I share your heartbreak, When Shadow passed away I thought if I were to put myself in his place it would be better to move on to a better place rather than to continue to suffer. Its so hard to say farewell when they own your heart.

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Janice O. August 17, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Julie: Your post was so touching and anyone who has lost a pet can relate to your grief. As one of your friends stated, our animals are more than just pets to us, they indeed are a part of the family and many live with us for an extended period of time. Our hearts ache for them once they have departed and it is unbelievably painful. Several people I have known have had great cats but I never seemed to get one … that is until I got Yogi about 15 years ago. Yogi is the most loving and attentive creature I could ever have been blessed with. I worry how much longer he will be with me, but every day I tell my angel how much I love him. Thank you for sharing your story about your beloved kitty. With the passing of some time, Roswell will warm your heart forever and bring a smile to your face with the wonderful pictures and memories you have of her. We can all tell that she was very much loved. I am truly sorry for your loss.

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clueless Mama August 18, 2010 at 1:47 am

I am so sorry about Roswell. What a beautiful and fun little girl she looked like. I bet you were a great mama. I am terribly sorry for your loss. You are in my thoughts.

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Janie Knetzer August 22, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Hi Julie:
I decided I wanted to check out your little kitchen website – nicely done…

I also wanted to visit your blog and just read about Roswell. I’m so very sorry, I know how you feel. I too lost my girl (Lulu), a yellow lab of 16 only 6 weeks ago.

Roswell was a beautiful girl and I like to think that we will see our furry kids again one day too. I’ll be thinking of you.

By the way, your little birthday girl is a cutie too!

Take care,
Janie

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