Moosie Goosie! Last Friday, we made the extremely difficult decision to say goodbye to Moose. His time was up. And he was more than ready. He was suffering from stage 4 kidney disease, and he went downhill rapidly in the last few weeks.
Our sweet Moose!
We found Moose on Craigslist back in 2007. Brian and I had a trip to Maui on the books, and we didn’t want to leave Worm—our other cat whom we said goodbye to in 2015—alone while we were gone for the week. We decided to get a second cat a few months prior to our trip. We wanted one to get used to our family and Worm before we left. That was a success. Moose fit right in. A sweet little eight-week old kitten, slid right into our home like no big deal. With Worm, and Mayah and Leilah, our pups we had since college. This was long before kiddos.
Moose was a mere $60 from a random person in Skyway. I found the Craigslist listing and immediately responded, and was lucky enough to score the last kitten from the litter. We drove over there and scooped him up, and headed home. We met his real mom, a pure black cat. Moose was pure white. Cat genetics are interesting.
Moose was my dad’s nickname. He was Bruce. And he died in 2006.
A typical kitten, Moose was full of energy and spunk. I’m not sure how interested Worm was with him, but she didn’t seem to mind his presence. We had him fixed and life was good with two cats (and two pups). Moose and Worm were fine while we went to Maui, and life continued on as usual.
When Moose was about one-year-old, he had a growth on his ear. I immediately took him to the vet, who didn’t know what it was. He suggested we see a specialist, whom could biopsy the growth if needed. The specialist also didn’t know what it was by looking at it, and had it biopsied. The biopsy was sent to a special lab at the University of Colorado (I think it was?). Turns out it was a type of microbacterium. The vet specialist wasn’t sure how to proceed, and suggested we remove his ear. Which wasn’t too absurd to me… we had a white-eared cat growing up, whom spent time outside and she had skin cancer on her ears. We had to have her ear flaps removed. Taboo, she was a sweetie! And she looked super adorable without ears, like a Scottish Fold.
I remember the day of Moose’s ear surgery. I spoke with the vet and decided right before surgery to try a laser option, to remove the growth. The vet said that was fine, and that we could try that first, but more than likely it would grown back and he would need to ultimately have his ear removed. Joke’s on the vet because the laser worked and Moose never had to have an ear removed. Haha. At the time of all this, we kept laughing that our sweet $60 cat was costing us thousands within the first year of having him. Totally worth every penny!
Like with all of our animals, Moose had a personality and history we made up. Moose was a runway model in Milan. He always maintained his boyish figure, even after his career-ending ear surgery.
The years went on, and Moose was with us through it all: building our careers; having kiddos; selling our first home; being homeless in California, staying with family, as our current home was being built; living briefly in the apartment because I had Baby early and our home wasn’t ready yet; moving into our current home; having a surprise kiddo… he was a constant. He was always there. When I’d come home, he’d greet me. When I went to bed, he’d sleep with me. When I was in the bath, he’d sit on the counter. When I’d come down in the morning, he’d come down with me. He was my guy. My sweet boy.
Moosie through the years! A sampling. We have tons of Moose pictures.
After the ear incident, it was smooth-sailing with his health. Until March. When we came home from Steamboat Rock, Moose looked like he was on the edge of death. He was weak and frail, and I don’t think he had eaten or had any water while we were gone. I immediately emailed our vet. Before we had left, I had noticed his cheek was slightly swollen. Something I took note of but nothing I felt he needed to be seen about right away. It was much more swollen when we got home.
Our vet came, and he was so weak. It was hard to see him that way. He was always so spunky and willing to put up a fight to get away. He always needed to be cat-bagged for vet appointments. Not this time. He just lied there; he didn’t even try to run away. She examined him and determined he had an abscess. And a heart murmur. Because of his weak state and his heart murmur—and age—we decided against surgery and instead put him on antibiotics. Thankfully the medication started working right away, and the swelling went down within a day or two. I started feeding him wet food three times a day to get his energy and weight back up. Within a week, he was looking great. Within two weeks, he was almost back to normal.
And then the swelling came back. He needed surgery. Two days later, we risked putting him under anesthesia for the abscess. The vet who did the surgery called me immediately after, telling me the surgery was a success. But another issue showed itself. Moose’s pre-surgery blood work indicated that he had kidney disease. Stage 4. Awesome. The vet suggested we put Moose on a special diet, give him liquids twice-weekly, vitamin shots weekly, and include a special liquid with his food.
Moose on the way to abscess surgery.
Moose was back home from the surgery like nothing happened. He was eating and drinking, roaming about as usual. I took him for liquids and vitamin shots, and started him on all the special foods and liquids. But the abscess swelling didn’t go down. Back to the vet we went. They drained it again and loaded him up with some more liquids and vitamins.
Moose was doing well. No more swelling or abscess. The kidney disease management plan was going smoothly. Until two weeks ago. He stopped eating with gusto. And he wasn’t drinking as much water as he had been. He was slowing down, hanging out in random spots all day, staring into oblivion. Brian thought we should let nature take its course and not force Moose to be poked and prodded during his last days. I agreed but took him one last time for liquids and vitamins, as we were leaving for Silverwood the next day. I wanted Moose to be comfortable. The liquids and vitamins perked him up. I felt okay with leaving him for the almost 48 hours, knowing our cat sitter would check in on him.
When we made it home from Silverwood, Moose was still alive and kicking, and somewhat eating and drinking. Little nibbles of food, a few sips of water. He was running downstairs with me, hanging out upstairs in the bathroom like usual. He seemed okay. But I could tell his hindquarters were hurting. He was a bit wobbly as he walked and unstable when he jumped. Not totally himself but hanging in there.
Then last week. Monday was the day I started thinking it was time. I kept a close eye on him. He was going downhill relatively fast. By Wednesday, I made the decision to email our vet and ask her to come when she could, so we could say goodbye to Moose. She emailed be back, saying she could come Friday but suggested I take Thursday to assess Moose to be certain.
Moose didn’t eat or drink all Thursday, and he was chilling in his litter box most of the day. When he did come around, he would hop up on the counter and barely make it—his back legs were so weak. It was time. I emailed her back Thursday afternoon, confirming Brian and I agreed it was time. This was incredibly difficult for me. It felt so wrong to decide when Moose would die. Our other animals made that decision on their own. As emotional as it is to think about, those were such special, calm moments when Mayah and Leilah died in my arms. Years apart, but moments I will never forget.
It was so hard going to bed Thursday night, kissing Moose as usual. Knowing tomorrow was goodbye. Friday morning came around and I went on as usual. I woke up early and greeted him, before heading out on the trail. I needed a trail outing to clear my mind. Work through my emotions. Moose was pretty much a shell of a cat Friday morning. He was downstairs, unable to jump up like he usually does. He couldn’t even make it on the chair. I lifted him up and he settled down, going right to sleep. When our vet arrived, he was still in the chair. He didn’t move at all when she took felt him. His temperature was really low and she said he was on the verge of going into a coma, getting ready to pass on his own. This made me feel much better about the decision. As hard as it was.
I knew I wasn’t strong enough to sit with him while he passed, since it wasn’t his choice. Brian sat with him while I took Maive out back. While he was passing, a hummingbird flew in and started drinking from our feeder. I thought that was pretty special. Something to make me smile while Moose took his last breath. Brian said things went smoothly, that Moose never even budged. He was more than ready.
That was that. No more Moose. It’s been really hard walking around the house and not having him in his spots. Or him appearing when he normally would. I’m tearing up now. I sure miss the sweet boy.
We’ve always had two cats and two dogs. And now we’re down to one cat and one dog (plus guinea pigs and fish). I’m almost thinking this is it… the heartbreak of getting an animal, loving them for several years, just to say goodbye to them, and never feeling totally over their loss is too much for me. And the guilt of feeling relived when they pass. How terrible is it that I feel so relieved that he’s gone?! I mean, it’s not terrible and totally normal, but I feel bad. The stress and anxiety, of constantly worrying and checking on him, was really getting to me.
Snugs, who has never given me the time of day—except when I give her wet food every night—clearly knew I was feeling down. She cuddled with me Friday evening?! Even now, she’s purring next to me.