Saturday, March 28, 2009

Good-Bye Sweet Baby Belle


Our very favorite kitty Belle passed away last night in my arms at the Vet Hospital. I had waited there in an exam room, holding her, for about two and a half hours, after discovering her panting in our livingroom around 5 o'clock yesterday evening. I had suspected that something was wrong several weeks ago, once the weather had begun to improve and she refused to leave our house, but after changing her food and watching her, she seemed to improve dramatically and I let my suspicions rest. She had spent yesterday morning and afternoon in her usual way, begging for her food first thing in the morning, then lounging around the house and on our porch, enjoying the sun, and occasionally escaping from the clutches of my one year-old, to her chagrin. I could not have imagined the turn of events which were to take place shortly thereafter.

After calling the vet to explain my concerns with her sudden distress, I raced through my home to find shoes and keys, I carried her to the van in a towel while Tom piled all of the kids in the back and we raced to have her examined- they immediately noticed that her gums were pale, which was the first sign to them that the prognosis would not be good. Lily and I cuddled with her, rubbing her head, waiting for the bloodwork results to come back. I called a friend to cancel our date, though she insisted on coming to sit with me, relieving Lily to go home with Tom and the kids to watch a movie and eat dinner. Shortly thereafter the Dr. came in and told me that Belle had feline leukemia, with horrible anemia. At that point I needed to make the choice of medicating her to get her comfortable, with the best case scenario being that she'd live another couple of years, or euthanizing her. My first instinct was the medication route, until the Dr. reminded me that Belle would no longer be able to go outdoors- and then I knew....her quality of life, in my mind, was completely caught up in her freedom to frolic about in the sun, and without this privilege, I felt that I could not force her to be a cat that she wasn't- but I couldn't wrap my mind around letting her go until a half hour later when the Dr. returned with the news that Belle's condition was worse than they originally determined and that her immune system was completely shut-down. So, in the arms of my friend, I enveloped our wonderful kitty in as much love as I could give, as she buried her head in the crook of my arm and laid her paw on my chest. I felt that she was giving me a gift- nuzzling me to say "thank you" for the life we had offered her when we chose for her to come live with us from the cage where she resided in the shelter. And then she was gone.

I arrived home to grief-stricken children, especially Benjamin who proclaimed her his favorite cat, at least once a week, and to Lily who had accompanied me last night and held her in the towel for such a long time.

We will miss her dearly. Since adopting her a year and a half ago, she had scampered about our yard, exterminating what seemed to be the entire population of chipmunks, moles, and vols in the South Hills of Pennsylvania. She was a gentle girl who loved everyone she met and who tolerated much torment at the hands of my one year-old Seth, never biting, scratching or hissing at him, despite his over-zealous petting of her fur.

Good-bye sweet kitty.

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Forty-three year-old, mother and staunch advocate of four young children, passionate warrior of truth and self, finding the soul in each day, sharing my struggles and triumphs as I live them. Mostly I do this for me, so my thoughts don't race as much at night as they used to. But I also give this to those of you who need to know, in any or every way, that you are not alone.

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