Navigating the burden of being your cat’s caretaker is at times overwhelming. How do you interpret what your cat is experiencing in a Quality of Life framework? We would love each cat to live to be at least 20 years old, and we believe that cat parents are the Guardians of their cat’s Comfort rather than the guardians of their cat’s longevity. As a sick or aging cat bravely battles its diminishing health, it is often left to the humans who love it to decipher its subtle signals and decide what pathway to choose in its care. When you are faced with decisions regarding further diagnostics, treatment, or referral for your feline family member, we offer friendly help. We provide a frank discussion about your cat’s medical condition and the way it is most likely causing him/her to feel, and what information you may need in deciding what treatment option to pursue.
We help by advising on what to look for when thriving becomes “bumping along” and then turns a corner to suffering. Some conditions that affect humans profoundly (such as blindness) are tolerated well by cats as their other senses take over. They do not realize that they have a condition that is affecting only them so they are not prone to self pity or the loss of independence that we humans may experience. In that case, being a cat facing blindness is more straightforward than one would think. Conversely, we humans will choose to suffer as our illnesses progress because time is so valuable to us. We live in our heads (cerebrally) and our thoughts, knowledge, and relationships offer quality of life when our bodies betray us.
Cats do not view the value of time as we do; they do not ponder the “what ifs” of the future and they live in the moment to eat, breathe, use the litter box and sleep comfortably. They deserve to do so. When the time comes when those creature comforts are no longer true for them, when what they are experiencing is less than they deserve and what is ahead is only going to be worse, it is time to step in so they do not have to linger and suffer. Although hospice care alleviates so much of our human suffering toward the end of our lives, we are not able to provide the hospital level of narcotic pain relief and nursing care at home as we do with people. The decision to step in to end suffering is one of the most painful decisions a Mom or Dad must make; we obligate ourselves (when we bring them into our lives) to suffer through the decision process so that they do not suffer in the end.