On Tuesday evening we said goodbye to Dakota.
After putting a solid plan in place to treat her illness(es) we thought we had a couple of months left with her; unfortunately her body had other plans.
Rather than take her to the vet – a jaunt she loathed – we had begun working with an in-home hospice/palliative care provider that came recommended through my friend, Dr. V. When we met with Dr. Shea Cox a week prior, Dakota immediately responded to the pain medication and we were cautiously optimistic. We knew we couldn’t save her – she was nearing 16 years old and had a number of health problems – but we knew that we could give her a pain-free and happy existence while she was still alive. Monday night Alan was in Chicago at the James Beard Awards, and I was home alone with Dakota. We had spent many happy moments together, just us two gals. I fed her treats, she ate her wet food like a glutton, and she purred and purred and purred. At one point late at night I even had her playing with her toys like a young, spry kitten again. There was nothing in her behavior to indicate to me that the following day would bring a change for the worse.
I woke up on Tuesday and things were fine. I walked in and said hello to her sleeping on her favorite chair and she purred at me. I rubbed her head and picked up her bowl and went into the kitchen to refill her food. When I came back into my office – her new eating spot – I saw that she was sitting funny. She followed me around a bit, and every time she’d stop moving, she’d sit in that weird position again. I watched her more and more and I realized that the weird position was her peeing, or at least attempting to. I looked around and saw that she had been peeing all morning in little spots and now her urine was tinged with blood. As I was writing to Dr. Cox to tell her about Dakota’s problems – we had a plan in place to alert her to any changes – Dakota started projectile vomiting in many different places. I admit that I freaked out a bit. Alan had gone straight from the airport that morning into work so I immediately started texting him to let him know that something was wrong with Dakota. I don’t know if she knew that Alan would be home on Tuesday and so she was able to fight off what her body was doing to her, but she did, and for that I am eternally grateful. I don’t know how I would have handled the rest of what our day was on my own.
He came home and we talked to Dr. Cox and decided together that she would come to our home later that night and we would say goodbye to our dear, sweet friend in the quiet and loving environment of our home, safely cocooned in Alan’s arms. She advised that we give Dakota extra doses of her pain medication and that seemed to help a lot. She was able to live out her last day in relative comfort. She laid on her chair, in the sun beam, and purred every time Alan or I came near. She’d nuzzle into our hands, and give us the love that she was sometimes stingy with at other times. I think she knew that her time with us was short and that she wanted us to know how much she loved us too.
It’s so hard for me to type this. My heart is broken.
She was my constant companion since I started working from home in late 2010. I have spent more time with her these past five years than I have spent with Alan. When I say that we would talk to each other throughout the day, I’m not kidding. I’d tell her about stupid people that I was dealing with at work and she’d meow back at me. Sometimes, while I was on those conference calls she’d jump on my desk and howl into the phone at people. More than one time I had to apologize for her belligerence. When I would write late into the night after I quit my job to finish my book, she’d sit on the chaise with me, or across from me on her other chair and she’d purr. She was never a lap cat, but she loved being around Alan and me. If we were in eyesight she was happy. In the last year she started to go a bit deaf and senile, I think. You could easily sneak up on her, and at night she’d sometimes become confused and disoriented about where she was. She’d howl (we’d call it singing the blues) until I’d get out of bed and come pick her up and walk around the apartment with her. She’d crawl up onto my shoulder and purr like a little beasty, content that all was once again right with the world.
We had her 16 years. For almost every day of my life, she was the first or second greeting I made each day. The last couple of months, I’d say “good morning Dakota” as I came out of the bedroom and made my way to the office where I was sure to find her sleeping so that I didn’t startle her with my “sudden” appearance. It’s a habit I’m having a hard time breaking.
Goodbye my sweet, sweet girl. You were the best, worst cat ever. There will never be another like you. I’ll miss you forever.