|Eddie one year after his illness
Eddie was born twelve years ago on the day
my 16 year-old cat died. I met him at a shelter when he was two weeks old. I brought him home at age eight weeks. Eddie, also
known as Panthera Plumpo, is large, orange and affectionate. His playfulness makes me laugh and he comforts me when I’m
Last spring I noticed a decline in his health through
the loss of appetite, weight and energy. He also developed an occasional cough. I took Eddie to the veterinarian and
learned that my cat had muffled heart sounds. The chest X-ray revealed a large mass (tumor) in his left chest. Blood work
The veterinarian and I discussed euthanasia. I asked my vet what he would do if this were his cat. Because Eddie did not yet
have labored breathing, or continuous coughing, he said that he would give his cat a long-acting steroid injection: "This
will make him more comfortable and give you time to say goodbye." I took his advice and brought Eddie home with a heavy
Days passed and he began to improve. Four weeks
later, his heart sounds were more audible and he received another steroid injection. Five weeks after that, Eddie was acting
like his healthy, playful self. His appetite increased and he returned to normal weight.
I took him in for another radiographic view of his chest and repeat blood studies. The X-rays and
lab tests were normal. The tumor and anemia were gone. To quote the veterinarian, "The only thing I know for certain
is that the chest mass was responsive to steroids. Observe him closely for a return of symptoms, but for now, you have a miracle
cat." Eddie probably had a lymphoma that responded to steroids.
Dr. LeCompte added that a round of steroids should be considered before making the decision to euthanize your pet for
three reasons: 1) Steroids often make the animal more comfortable, 2) They may give you a little time to say goodbye,
and 3) Once in a while, if the condition is responsive to steroids, the treatment improves or heals the condition. Of course
the benefits of steroids must be weighed against the potential for harm. For example, steroids will make a bacterial infection
worse because they suppress the immune system and can predispose animals to diabetes; but, if your pet is dying, steroids
are worth a try.
I am sharing this story because
I almost had Eddie euthanized last summer. Euthanasia is final and the decision deserves careful evaluation. Perhaps my experience
will help you. I don’t know how much more time I have with Eddie,
but isn't today all the time God gives any of us? Every situation is unique, so before you make the difficult decision
to euthanize your beloved pet, please ask your veterinarian about the benefits and risks of steroid
therapy for your pet's specific condition. It could save your companion animal’s life, or at the very least,
give you time to say goodbye.
Eddie died of GI complications in 2012; but he had
18 months of quality time because of the decision to forgo euthanasia and try steroids in 2010. I chose euthanasia because
it was the loving thing to do. I was present for his final breath and the last voice he heard was mine.
Our pets’ time on earth is fleeting. Our brief interval together is never enough. If we have
loved animals our entire lives, we experience grief again and again. I am grateful Eddie was part of my family for 13 years.
Now he lives in my heart.
Wait for me on The Bridge, Eddie Spaghetti.
I love you.
If you live in the Cincinnati / TriState area, please visit kingsvethospital.com. The wise and compassionate veterinarian in this story is Paul LeCompte, DVM. In my opinion, he possesses the triumvirate
of veterinary care: good with animals, good with people and he is a devoted, skilled clinician. A rare combination indeed.
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Over the last nine years, The Grieving Heart® meandered
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grief, helping grievers and pet loss.
will continue to honor and remember veterans and fallen soldiers because it is the least I can do for those who have
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and individual mending is, the time required for healing
cannot be measured against any fixed calendar. Mary Jane Moffat
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