I lost my Boo.... (really long - may upset some)
- I don't know what to say. I never posted to this group, I just always silently lurked. And
now...my Boogie is gone and I don't really know who to talk to. No one seems to
understand. Two weeks ago today, he lost his battle with HCM. And I don't really
understand what happened. And I think about all the things I should have done. Maybe
should have posted more to this list. Asked some questions. I don't know.
I had him 14 years. Rescued him as a stray one cold November night in 1991. I was a
college freshman, so lonely 200 miles away from home without a kitty for the first time in
my life. We were inseparable from the very beginning. I could hardly bear to be without
him, so I took him to my classes in my pocket until he got too big. My high school
boyfriend moved back home, found another girl, but Boogie was always there. Whenever I
traveled, I took him with me. If he didn't like my dates, we didn't go out again. I have
suffered from depression for most of my adult life. I spent hours in my bed, just lying
there holding him, staring into his green-gold eyes. My world has come crashing down. I
can't imagine life without him. I have six other cats, but it's not the same. He was my child,
and I'm so lost.
He never was a really hearty eater, but got up to 11 pounds and stayed there for a long
time. He bore a strong resemblance to a Maine Coon, and I'm sure there was some in his
The first time I realized something was wrong was in October 2003. I heard a crash in the
middle of the night, and found him unable to walk, tail dragging. An emergency trip to the
vet revealed nothing remarkable. The vet thought he had possibly broken his tail. He
suggested waiting a day or two to see if he improved before sending him out of town to a
specialist. Surprisingly, he did. We counted our lucky stars. I realize now that he probably
suffered a small blood clot that resolved itself.
In January 2004, I walked into the bedroom to find him lying flat on the bed, breathing
heavily. He seemed to be asleep, but his heart was beating fast and he was breathing as if
he had been running. I called my vet but he was out of town. The vet I was referred to said
he might have a cold. He suggested bringing him in the next morning. All night, I held him
in my arms, afraid I would lose him. The next day, the vet gave him amoxicillin and sent
him home. For two days this went on. By the second morning, he was completely
unresponsive, almost unconscious. I had worked for a vet in high school, had planned to
be a vet. I had done my research. Hesitant to buck my vet's opinion, but desperate to save
my baby, I brought him back and suggested that he was in congestive heart failure. My
regular vet was still out of town, so I begged for a referral to a specialist an hour away.
By the end of the day, they had confirmed that he had HCM. His heart was enlarged with a
grade 2 murmur, and the beginning of CRF. He was put on Lasix, and within three days
was able to come home. He was very weak, but I dutifully gave him his diltiazem twice a
day (7.5 mg) and he eventually improved. He never regained his appetite and his weight
fell to 9 pounds, where it stayed until two months ago.
He was scheduled for a repeat echocardiogram, but he was doing so well and it was so
expensive. I foolishly thought that it would not make a difference knowing if it wasn't
working. I didn't want to know. Stupid foolish girl. If I had gone for the checkup, I might
have known that his medicine was not working. Perhaps they could have increased his
dosage, tried something else. He seemed happy and playful, so I assumed all was well. I
have a crazy, erratic schedule as a freelance photographer. Sometimes I would miss his
morning or his evening pill. He was doing so well, I became complacent. Oh God, how that
Over the past six months, eating had been a real struggle. Blood work was unremarkable.
His BUN and creatine remained borderlevel high (high 30s low 40s). He slept a lot and
didn't seem to want to jump up on things much, but I thought maybe he was just getting
arthritis. I took him for a checkup in September and again, bloodwork unremarkable.
Again, my regular vet was out of town. The young vet who examined him said it sounded
like he had some fluid in his chest, nothing to worrry about. I mentioned his HCM, but he
said the fluid didn't concern him. He did mention that his heart sounded very loud and he
detected a gallop rhythm. He gave me valium to entice him to eat as he had dropped
dangerously to eight pounds.
The valium worked for a few days, then it was back to a struggle getting him to eat. I
moved into a new house about two months ago, and he gradually began taking a turn for
the worse. Every move he made seemed to cause heavy breathing. But when he rested he
was ok. I kept a close watch and waited for my regular vet to return. On Oct. 10, I called
the vet's office and they said my vet was in, but he was about to go to a funeral. I told
them my cat was in distress and asked for the referral to the specialist again (you can only
go with a referral). They said they would call it in. Meanwhile, their office closed and the
specialist said they never received a call. So we had to wait another night. He wasn't in
distress, but he clearly wasn't up to his usual self, and he wasn't eating at all.
The morning of Oct. 11, I called my regular vet again and surprise, surprise, he was out of
town. So I took Boogie back to the vet where he had been diagnosed with a cold and just
outright demanded the referral. The specialist that had saved his life before was no longer
at that clinic, and they no longer handled heart patients. He would be sent to a new place
--- two hours away to Mississippi State University. I made the long drive praying he would
live to get there.
Lab work, echo, etc. revealed what I already knew...he was back in congestive heart failure.
The vet said the echo indicated that parts of his heart had died (I'm not sure how much...I
got too upset to ask). The vet removed 200ml of fluid from his chest with a needle. They
put him on Lasix and said they would have to wait to see what happened. He stayed there
for six days. Every day, by afternoon, he would be back in distress and they would have to
remove the fluid from his chest again, usually 75-100ml. They upped his diltiazem to a
stronger once a day dose. They added another heart med. They suggested an herb, Rutin,
for when he came home.
I brought him in on Tuesday. Because it was so far away, I was going to go see him on
Thursday. Then they said he would come home Friday, so I just waited. Friday afternoon, I
was headed out the door to get him when they called and said he was crashing and they
didn't know why. He couldn't go home. I made four-hour round trip to see him anyway,
even though I would be allowed only 15 minutes. I was stunned at how awful he looked.
He was gaunt, even though they told me he had been eating. He was covered in feces and
urine. His eyes were vacant, and he could barely stand.
He responded to my touch and even purred a little while I was there. I cleaned him up as
best as I could and promised I would come back the next day with treats. The next
morning, I returned. He ate some shrimp treats from my hand and seemed a little better.
He had been taken off the oxygen and made it through Saturday and Sunday without
Monday they said he could go home. When I arrived at 4:30 p.m. to get him, the vet said
she was concerned that he had gotten rather depressed and sluggish in the past hour.
They drained fluids off his chest again (35 ml) and she told me that he would need to see
his regular vet in three days for another draining. She said the Lasix was just taking a
while to take effect. His back was turned to me in the carrier, and I was surprised that he
didn't turn around to greet me, but I was just so happy to be bringing him home. I patted
his backside and made the drive home.
I was stunned when I took him out of the cage. We got home around 7 p.m. He stepped
out of the cage and fell down. He was wall-eyed, terrified. He looked drugged. I called and
the vet tech said he had not been drugged, but that the vet was gone for the day, and I
should call my regular vet if he was in distress.
He didn't seem in distress, respiration normal, he just seemed very, very out of it. I
thought perhaps it was just because he hadn't eaten. He wouldn't eat on his own, so I
mixed a blend of wet food and syringe fed him. I was cheered by the fact that he took it
well, leaning his head on my shoulder like a baby, looking into my eyes, gently kneading
my shoulder. God how I treasure that hour now. He fell asleep as I was feeding him, so I
stopped and carried him to the bathroom, brought a blanket and pillow in and laid on the
floor beside him.
His respiration increased slightly during the night, but again, nothing too major --- at
times he barely seemed to be breathing at all. He didn't want to be near me, which was
odd. He wanted to prop up against the wall. I realize now he was trying to breathe. Finally,
he settled down and we both fell asleep.
*****Warning, graphic, may upset some *****
About 6 a.m., I had my hand on him when I felt him get up and let out a loud, very primal,
unearthly scream. Panicked, I grabbed the phone and called the vet. The answering service
said they would call me back. He let out several more loud meows and then sank to the
floor, whiffling and sort of blowing out his breath a bit. His legs and his muzzle were wet. I
called the answering service back and begged for the vet to return my phone call. About
10-15 minutes had passed. As the vet called, he laid down on his side and stopped
breathing. Panicked, I begged the vet to come to my house. He told me he couldn't do that
and informed me that if he didn't SEEM to be breathing and if his heart didn't SEEM to be
beating, then he was gone.
Angry at the vet's insensitivity and hurting so much, I just put the phone down, laid my
head on the floor and cried.
And now. Two weeks have passed. I look back at everything that happened, and think of
all the things I should have done. I'm terrified that I missed the signs of the fluid filling his
chest, terrified that I allowed him to drown in his own fluids. I see his last moments, hear
his cries, all day long. The pain doesn't seem to end. I wanted so much to be with him in
his final hour, but the memory torments me. I would never have let him suffer for the
world, and yet I truly feel that his last minutes were in pain. I don't understand how or why
he died. Was it fluid, a heart attack? I don't know what I should have done.
All I know is that I miss my baby so very, very much. Sometimes I wish I could crawl inside
his grave with him. Life holds so very little meaning now. I just don't know what to do
And I guess...I just wanted to tell you guys because I know you are all struggling with this
awful disease. And for those silent lurkers out there like me, go to the checkups. Take the
medicine seriously. It might not help, but at least you won't have to wonder.
P.S. There are pictures of him on my website, including one awful one from the hospital,
but this is one of my favorites from shortly after he was first diagnosed with HCM...
I am so, so sorry to hear about Boogie :( I am also so sad for you that you
had to go through this!
You did the best you could for him, and the others are right, there is
nothing to be gained by beating yourself up. While some experiences are
better than others, the sad reality is that this is a battle 99.9999% of
cats will just not win, no matter what we do.
I can see how his death was so traumatic for you to witness ... but really,
despite whatever pain he may have felt in the last moments of his life, his
eternity is pain-free. And he wouldn't want you to beat yourself up like
this! This didn't happen because you didn't love him, it didn't happen
because you didn't care or were too lazy or anything else ... you didn't
cause it, you couldn't cure it, and it is *not* your fault.
I know how awful this is for you now, and I'm so glad you posted ... please
don't feel you can't because it's sad, this is a support group and we're
here in good times and in bad. Vent as much as you'd like! As difficult as
this is now, I promise, there will come a time when you can remember Boogie
with nothing but happiness, and you *will* see him again someday!
On 11/1/05, Carmen Sisson <cksisson@...> wrote:
> I don't know what to say. I never posted to this group, I just always
> silently lurked. And
> now...my Boogie is gone and I don't really know who to talk to. No one
> seems to
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