Aug 6, 2006

Questionable Morality

The cat has again peed in the living room. This makes 6 or 7 times since he started his antibiotics 4 days ago - our last ditch effort to cure the pee problem.

Norm is 17. He has thryoid issues held in check by medication twice daily (crushed and mixed with his food); he also take metamucil (natural flavor) twice daily with his food. He survived having his pelvis crushed by a car and being missing for 6 days 5 years ago. He survived an animal bite and enormous abscess and consequent surgery this April. He is almost stone deaf and I'm pretty sure he's arthritic as he doesn't jump up very well anymore and is stiff about jumping down. He sleeps most of the time and has gone gray on one side of his face. He is curmudgeonly but he always was and, in general, he seems reasonably happy.

Except for the pee problem. He pees where he is not supposed to. We've been dealing with the odor but he's started peeing and leaving puddles where the baby can get into them. (We're pretty good about finding them quickly up here - usually by stepping in them.) We've tested for FUS, we've tested for many things. The tests have all come back negatively. We've put in an additional litterbox; both are kept filled with the only litter he uses and is scooped daily. He goes out on demand so he has additional opportunity to pee if he has to. So the unwelcome conclusion is that the problem is not medical but mental.

We've had this problem off and on over the years and it was almost always traced to some sort of disruption in the house (we've done a lot of renovations and have had workman in and out at times over the last 7 years). We're not having any renovations now (can't afford 'em) but the baby has started crawling. And, soon, she will be walking. Another small being is pacing Norm's floors and the threat isn't likely to disappear anytime soon.

I really don't know what to do. This is easily the hardest decision I have ever had to face. The mother in me shouts that I can't risk having my baby splash her (soon-to-be-chewed) hands in cat pee. The cat mother in me shouts that I can't murder my cat. Particularly since I have such a personal fear of someone unplugging me out of convenience should I ever be on life support.

Is it right to condemn him to die because of a pee issue? Is it right to keep him alive if he is so unhappy about his living situation that he feels he must pee to get his point across? If he is having dementia issues, as the vet suspects given his age, is it fair to euthanize him for that or is it fair to let him live through losing his mind. Am I more afraid of losing him or watching his continued decline and dealing with the pee.

I don't want to be the grownup here. I'm not sure I can make this decision.

I'm really not sure if I can live with either outcome.


Blogger Robin said...

I still have the generic prozac I bought off the internet for our one cat if you want to try it.

2:51 AM  
Anonymous harriet said...

Our late cat Mr. Stein was similarly prone in his dotage -- although he'd moved many times with me before, he never seemed to fully adjust to living here, where many cats roam free and would stand outside our windows and taunt him -- and I was faced with the same question. When faced with getting rid of him, I just couldn't do it. He eventually died of natural causes and we're finally starting to think about replacing the carpet. Good luck with your decision.

8:07 AM  
Blogger LauraJ said...

I've not dealt with this issue personally but my friend has last April. I'll ask her to come and comment for you from her perspective. Big hugs to you and Norm.

11:49 AM  
Blogger Brightdreamer said...

I hope this doesn't post twice...

It's not just the pee, and you know it. There is a lot more going on here, and you're not a rotten, miserly, cat-hating person for considering euthanasia.

Sadly, it looks like you have three options. Keep Norm in an area away from the rest of the house (could you build an enclosed outdoor run for him, maybe?), train him to wear piddle pants (which sounds undoable, given Norm's personality and mental state), or let him go. I know what I'd do, what I've had to do in situations where an animal's health was deteriorating and nothing could be done to stop it, but I'm not going to tell you what to do. I will tell you that standing back and waiting for Nature to take its course may backfire, causing far more stress and resentment and guilt than making The Call would. I've had pets die on their own, and I've taken pets to the vet. Neither is a fun way to lose them. But only you can make this decision.

I don't know if you pray or meditate or use a pendulum or dream-read, but you might give Something a shot. It does help one acheive clarity. If nothing else, take a little extra time, if you can, to sit down with Norm and hug him and let him know that whatever happens he is loved, and listen with your heart of hearts to see if you can't figure out what Norm would tell you if he could talk. He may not be able to say whether he'd prefer this life or death in so many words, but sometimes pets find ways of letting us know if and when It Is Time.

I doubt that helped, but from one cat lover to another, hang on. And feel free to cry, too. Anyone who can't shed tears for an animal doesn't deserve to have one in the first place.

4:51 PM  
Blogger graymama said...

My mom had a cat who peed everywhere. It went on for months until his kidneys started to fail him. She had to make the "quality of life" decision.


8:19 PM  
Anonymous T said...

Hi, I'm Laura's friend T. First of all, as I was reading this, it could have been my own writing, because I have not only been there but feel exactly the same as you do. I had a few thoughts about your situation. Here goes...
First of all, it is very obvious that you deeply love your cat. He must love you too. However, having had a cat who became incontinent at a young age due to meningitis, and also having had a pet that lived to be 17 and who became blind and bumped into walls and peed on the floor, and also having worked in a nursing home, (that's a lot)....I think he isn't capable of making it to the litter box any more, even if you have two of them. He may not even be aware he has peed, and I agree that he's probably suffering from dementia at this point. It sounds like he has lived a long, full life and while he has survived a lot of bad situations, this is one that we all have to face at some point, and it's possible that no amount of treatment will help for more than a very short time. It is so hard, it is gut-wrenching, it is hollow-belly, aching sadness to come to a decision to put a beloved pet to sleep, since he is family. I think it may be the best chice, though, and if it any comfort, I do believe that pets go to a better place and do see their people again someday. You will hurt more than he does, it is a very quick and painless needle, and he will go quickly, and you can be next to him and comfort him on the table, if that is what you decide to do. I certainly understand how you are feeling right now. I'll be thinking of you.

3:41 PM  

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