Farewell Ananda (Mullycoonz Eowyn) – 2014-2017 … Outstanding Mother and Cat19 January, 2017
My mother cat, Ananda, passed away early January this year, 2017.
Ananda was the gentlest and sweetest cat I have ever had. She put up with Maya (the Thuggy Bengal) pushing her around, and only in her later years did she start hissing and retaliating. After Maya died in March 2015, I used to tease Ananda that she had outlived the “Enemy” and looked forward to more years of loving Ananda. And then Teddy, her first-born kitten, died in November 2015 and Ananda became even more precious to me, the last vestige of happy times with kittens and mothering. She was there for me through a divorce, medical challenges, life challenges. Her furry love was the one constant I could count on.
Late 2016, she started having issues with her mouth and wasn’t eating properly, but the vet (Happy Pet Veterinary Surgery, Southgate, London) said it was caused by inflammed gums from bad teeth. So she had four teeth taken out. The day she returned from surgery she ate two pouches of cat food. I breathed a sigh of relief and thought she was on the way to healing.
Every week, I would take her back to the vet because she was still having problems healing. Each week the vet insisted it was healing and gave her different painkillers or antibiotics. After Maya who died of cancer of the oesophagus, the vet probably thought I was a hypochondriac. He even said to me, tapping on her gums: “look there’s no pus coming out! There’s no tumour! There’s no tumour!”
But I knew something was wrong. She was still not eating properly and pawing the side of her mouth.
Finally, just before Christmas, I took her to the vet again. This time it was a different vet who examined her and he found a lump on the side of her right cheek. He did an X-ray, then a biopsy. He said that it would take a week for the results. In the meantime, she was on heavier painkillers. He said it did not look good. I asked him why they hadn’t done an X-ray when I took her in with her mouth problems. He said it was a routine tooth extraction and his excuse was that they didn’t do X-rays for that sort of procedure.
During Christmas she was still active, climbing trees, looking at birds with interest. The vet had issued cat-doses of Tramadol to give her. Because I could not open her jaws without causing her pain, the only way I could medicate her was by crushing the pills and dissolving it in a liquid and syringing it down her throat. She used to run away when I tried to medicate her, but I thought that was normal behaviour for a cat. The Tramadol made her very drowsy and dopey but seemed to help the pain.
The results of the biopsy arrived. It was squamous cell carcinoma. The vet claimed it was very aggressive and it was only a matter of time. I asked for a second opinion and was referred to a specialist pet oncologist. They carried out a CT scan and found a 3 cm tumour in the left lower jaw. Surgery was possible but there was a possibility of recurrence.
I went on the internet and discovered that only 1% cats with squamous cell carcinoma would survive 1 year.
The following day spoke to the oncologist again. He said surgery was possible, with a recovery period of about 2 weeks with a feeding tube inserted. This time, I asked about the possibility of recurrence and he said that it would recur in about 3 to 6 months’ time.
There was no choice. I got her back home on a Thursday, and had two nights with her. Each night she and I would cling together in bed, she slept between my legs, I would cup her head in my hands and stroke her. I knew I had to let her go because she was miserable.
On Friday, I asked the vet if he would come to the house on Saturday to put Ananda to sleep. He had done the same for Teddy and Maya. A home passing would be the gift I would give Ananda. The surgery was only 3 minutes’ from my house and he had made house visits many times. He said he would be busy as he was on his own on Saturday, but he would come during his lunch break.
On Saturday morning I took Ananda to the garden where she crouched, hardly paying attention to the birds. She still had the energy to run away from me when I tried to medicate her through the feeding tube.
I visited the vet to ask him to come during his lunch break. He refused, claiming that there were too many patients. I asked him to come after surgery and he refused. He told me that if I could hang on until Monday, he would come.
I knew that if I had to sit in the waiting room with all the other cats and dogs and their owners, I would burst into tears, and probably shout at him, and remind him that this was the second time his practice had mis-diagnosed a cat and missed the cancer. Ananda hated him and would fight him. I did not want to put her through the stress of waiting in a small waiting room with dogs sniffing her basket.
So I rang around other vets, and finally found an angel of a vet who only did home visits. Even better, she specialised in geriatric care of pets, palliative care, and euthanasia.
I won’t go into detail of the process, but it was the most compassionate and gentle process. Ananda passed away on my bed, everything was quiet and gentle and respectful, and she literally fell asleep and then passed on.
The home vet also told me that Tramadol was one of the bitterest substances, so no wonder Ananda ran away from me when I tried to medicate her. This was something that the vet at Happy Pet Veterinary Surgery did not tell me – ignorance or negligence on their part? And yet Ananda had come to bed to cuddle with me even though I had caused her so much discomfort!
I don’t know what more to say except that Ananda was an outstanding cat. She had five litters of beautiful, healthy, outstanding kittens who brought much joy to many people. She made me assistant mother cat, and I was proud that she chose to have her kittens on my bed. I discovered the joys of having kittens climb up my legs, of multiple litter trays, and the sadness when the kittens had to leave to go to their new homes. I used to feed the kittens dead baby chicks, and Ananda used to take them round and call the kittens to her. After the kittens left, she used to still walk around the house, calling them.
If there’s a lesson to be learned it is that sometimes it is more loving to let a cat go earlier, than to try and try to save them and cause them grief and suffering through procedures and medication. Also: as the pet’s owner, you know best when something is wrong, and if you don’t trust your vet is doing the right thing, better to go to another vet.
The vet claimed that this was a difficult cancer to diagnose. I do wonder if had he done an X-ray when I’d first brought her in with mouth problems, whether the tumour would have been found. I have come to the conclusion that most small vet practices are like GPs – good at the small basic things like vaccines and small wounds, and bad teeth, but not geared up for cancer. If I ever get another cat, I will not be going back to Happy Pet Veterinary Surgery because they dismissed my concerns week after week and missed a cancer diagnosis in my cats yet again.
Goodbye Ananda. I’m sorry I put you through so much in the last days, but I thought you could be cured. I’m sorry I didn’t have the courage or the love to let you go earlier. Please forgive me. Mummy loves you and misses you. Safe journey and soft landings, my beloved companion.
For compassionate treatment by an excellent home visit vet in the London area, contact http://homevisitvet.co.uk/.