Friday, February 26, 2010

A Lot On My Mind

I think about blogging every single day, and yet it is hard to take even a few quiet moments to gather my thoughts here. 
I am really trying to use the word 'balance' as my mantra for this new year.  My stress levels are at times feeling quite unmanageable, which I know is not healthy.  It's all about control, and feeling like I have so little of it is not something I am suited to accept.

As many of you know, I have rescued quite a few pets through the years and spent my six years in Austin fostering dogs through the amazing Blue Dog Rescue, and working with local shelters. 'Animal rescuer' became a part of my personal title that I was proud of; a title that made me feel like I was doing something good and important in this world. It was beyond a was a commitment to making the world a better place.

During college and in the years shortly thereafter, I adopted a total of five pets: three dogs and two cats. You may recall this past summer when I lost my sweet, sweet Daisy dog to an aggressive form of cancer, and the number of pets became four. Four pets in a house ill-equipped for any pets at all combined with the stress of raising a child with special needs equals even more stress. I wasn't the type of pet owner I wanted to be and have felt incredible guilt at my frustration with the animals. But we chugged along as we always have, because it is my firm belief that you adopt an animal for life.

That is, until one of my cats began peeing all over my house last summer.

I adopted Jade as a naive college student. I would go to the local animal shelter constantly to the point where they no longer required me to have an employee escort me to the kennels. One day, I came across a bright orange tabby cat with six, tiny orange kitties and two, totally-out-of-place, gray and white siamese mix kittens. It turned out that the Mama had her kittens in the same dumpster as a Siamese and for whatever reason, these two misfits were left to fend for themselves. And, so, as is often the way in the amazing world of animals, the orange tabby selflessly gave her milk to the two Siamese mixes who needed that in order to survive.

I learned that the kittens would be available for adoption in two days, and I returned fairly soon after the shelter opened to see that all of them had been adopted except for one of the Siamese mixes. She was tiny and sniffly and anyone in their right mind knew she probably wasn't going to make it. But since the staff knew me to be a giant sucker, they told me that they'd just give her a shot of antibiotics and she'd be just fine. The part they neglected to tell me was that she was only two weeks old and would have to not only be hand-fed, but would also have to be assisted in all things, including simulating a mother cat licking her to make her go to the bathroom! A few days into her new life with me, I noticed her tummy swelling to obscene proportions. Fortunately I had enough wits about me to call a vet who explained she could have basically imploded from the pressure if I hadn't called them sooner. Great! Fortunately it required nothing more than remembering to occasionally, ahem, 'massage' her with a warm washcloth.

Jade was always very elusive. She was social only with me, and even then, only at certain times of the day. She adored the dogs, though, and was the pet project of her bossier older feline sister, Kahlua. It was clear, however, that even when you adopt an animal as young as she was, you can't quite take the feral out of a feral-born cat.

I'll spare you any more of my ramblings and bring you to the present. I made the decision to euthanize Jade yesterday. It was absolutely one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I don't 'kill' animals...I rescue them! But the strain of cleaning endlessly peed upon carpet has taken its toll on the entire family. One of the boys' bedrooms has not even been in use for months because I got so fed up that I actually tore a large chunk of carpet out of it and threw it away. Who lives like this? When we got home from a six-day vacation Wednesday, the wetness in our master bedroom was so unbelievable that I knew we couldn't do this any longer.

I had taken Jade in three months ago to rule out any medical conditions that could make an almost 15-year-old cat who'd never soiled outside of her litter box start this sort of behavior. I was so hopeful they'd find a urinary tract infection or something else that was either treatable, or would give me a clearer conscience about euthanizing her. But neither occurred. For some reason, Jade wasn't happy anymore. She spent nearly the entire day curled up underneath a fleece mat inside her crate in the laundry room and came out only at night to wreak havoc on our bedrooms.

And so, because I could not see any other areas of stress in my life that could be eliminated, and because SOMETHING had to give around here before I have a full-on breakdown, I chose to end my cat's life.

I can only hope I can be forgiven for such a thing.

I know those of you who aren't animal lovers will think that is insane to worry about...and those of you who are will hopefully say a little prayer that her passing was quick and painless, and that she forgives me.

And then...there were three.


Chelli said...

So sorry for you. I know what you are going through and how hard it can be. Praying for you and Jade. :(

sarah said...

sorry debbie, this must be so hard.

redheadmomma said...

We had two dogs before we ever had kids, and loved them so much, even though one was totally bait-n-switch from the humane society (we wanted lab, and only found out later it was lab with half border collie....NOT a good fit for us) and he was so smart but his behaviors were awful - escaping our 6' fences, peeing everywhere in the house including right in front of us, tearing apart our door, etc. But we also believe you have an animal for life. He was so mad at me for bringing a baby home. He would sit in front of the tv and stare me down while I nursed Noah, and I cried from the guilt.
And then Noah was dx'd with autism and my world shattered. It was about a month after that, after cleaning up poop after poop off our brand new carpet in our brand new house, that something in me just snapped - I could handle no more. And he went back to the humane society that day.
The other one kept growling at a now-toddler-Noah who kept getting in the dog's face. He was a love, but we were afraid the dog would totally snap, so we found him a home as well.
SO much guilt. I completely understand. Completely. I have been there too. XO R

Cassy said...

I'm so sorry Debbie. What a wonderful life that cat had with you as here caregiver during her 15years on Earth.

Mandy said...

Love you! Prayers for all. Think of the wonderful 15 years you gave that precious cat. Great mommy!!!

little miss mel said...

Oh Debbie!! I put my 16 yr old, Arthur, down before there was anything truly wrong. He was unhappy, barfing everywhere, ever day. Hang in there!!


Anonymous said...

Oh, the woes of the tender-hearted. Just because the vet didn't find any obvious medical condition doesn't mean she wasn't in pain. It certainly sounds like she was in great discomfort or she would not have been behaving that way. You absolutely did what was best for her. I, too, am one of those animal lovers who adopts for life, and I tearfully would have done the same thing.
Hugs from TX, Leah

Mama Deb said...

Thank you so much for the support, everyone! I think the worst part about putting her down is that the remaining three pets likely don't have a lot of time left on this planet either :(
My dogs are 15 and almost 12 years, and my other cat turns 16 this month--yikes! carpet is being ordered today so we can at least sleep a bit more peacefully without the smell of pee.