Once again my husband and I had to make the terrible decision on February 21, 2013, to end the life of one of our pets. With our having done this so many times in the past (and this is the third in the last six months), you might think we are beginning to be old hands at this sort of thing. But it is not the case; it still hits us as hard as ever. More, perhaps, as this was one of our kittens.
Daisy was born April 5th, 2012, as part of a litter of four females. The others were grey with some amounts of white; she was black with some white. What a beautiful little kitten, a spot of black fur on her otherwise white chin resembling a goatee of sorts. Later as she grew and matured, we would come to find that she was very similar (but not completely identical) in markings to her sister Missy. Although Missy sported no goatee, her coat of grey and white was so very close to Daisy’s black and white.
My husband took to Daisy right away. One day he saw her wanting to engage two of her sisters in play, but they were busy with each other and seemingly had no time for Daisy. Then she tried the remaining sister, but this one was busy with her own little game. It bothered him to observe this, as he did not want to have anyone excluded. He played with her a bit that day to make sure she would feel part of the family. The next day, however, he saw her happily ensconced in the family of kittens, enjoying the company of her sisters as they all went about their appointed rounds. How wonderful to see them all having such a great time, playing with abandon!
I filmed some video of the four kittens nursing from their beautiful mother, Carrie. It was taken when they were about three weeks old, and it is heartwarming to see these four young girls all under the protection of their very proud and doting mother. We didn’t know then that the entire bunch were carrying feline leukemia. It has since claimed Carrie’s life, gotten into Missy’s bone marrow and dropped her red blood cell count so low that we don’t know how long she can survive, and now has taken Daisy.
Daisy got her name from a good friend who once considered taking her and one of her sisters. The other kitten she considered, Lily, is tiger striped as was her mother, so some thought of a Tiger Lily gave way quite naturally to Lily. To keep the flower theme going, she chose the name Daisy for this other little girl; and it stuck.
Daisy was not the largest kitten at first, but during her short life she underwent a growth spurt and outpaced the others. She developed muscles and agility, quickly acquiring the skills necessary to leap onto the highest furniture in the house, making seemingly impossible jumps with almost no effort whatsoever. Her beautiful coat shown smartly as she gracefully went about her affairs; she was the picture of health. She also appeared to be making friends with one of our adult cats, Cleo, a tortie. Cleo was not fond of the kittens; but this black and white little girl busily chipped away at the layers of resistance, working her way into Cleo’s heart. It could be because of Daisy’s resemblance to our Chatterbox, a tuxedo cat who passed away on October, 2010, whom Cleo loved; but we cannot say for certain.
So it came as somewhat of a shock to us when on Sunday, February 10th, Daisy would not eat. This little girl had previously gobbled her food like a horse, so something was obviously amiss. A visit to our vet the next day confirmed the worst: Daisy had a mass in her chest which tests confirmed was lymphoma. Our veterinarian, Dr. Lisa Hoffman, thorough as ever, did offer options of ultrasound and subsequent chemotherapy; but quickly pointed out that she would not really recommend these because of Daisy’s being feline leukemia positive. As she put it in blunt terms, we knew that Daisy’s prognosis sucked.
So to buy her some time, Dr. Hoffman drained the fluid from around the mass, and Daisy could once again breathe normally and eat to her heart’s content. It was good to see her once again leap to the heights of the highest furniture, if only for a while. We could not have known then just how long she had, but the answer came all too quickly. On Monday the 18th, she had a checkup, and Dr. Hoffman detected no evidence of fluid buildup in her chest. But all too soon Daisy once again stopped eating and drinking, and she was in obvious pain, unable to get comfortable. Her breathing was labored, so we took her in on Thursday the 21st to face the inevitable. It was obvious that the mass in her chest was growing, and so we stayed with her while the terrible drugs were administered.
What makes this so hard for us is Daisy’s age. We love all our animals, but some have lived long lives or have experienced illnesses that became progressively worse. Daisy was seemingly so healthy that I had wondered if perhaps she would somehow triumph over that obscene virus. After all, she was only ten and 1/2 months old; her death has come way too soon. Our compassionate vet said the right things, of course, about what an awesome ten and 1/2 months we gave her. We know that if Carrie had not come into the house almost a year ago, the kittens would have been born in the wild; and the resulting stress would have brought on Carrie’s illness much sooner, thus condemning the kittens to a horrible death.
But right now we can only try to find our way through the grief process, and this will take time. Our hatred of that most foul virus may not be entirely rational, but taking its toll as it does on those we love is not an endearing trait. At this moment I am still angry that a beautiful little child has been taken from us. In time this will change. As has become our custom, we will have Daisy privately cremated, and we will put her box by her mother’s. At least her remains will once again be at home.
And what of her spirit? Daisy is now free with no more suffering, and she can romp about by the Rainbow Bridge with her mother, enjoying the time until we come by to see her once again. She joins the animals whose company we have enjoyed through the years.
Both of us cried yesterday as though Daisy had been the first one we lost. Such is the price of loving these wonderful animals. Perhaps we are guilty of loving them too much, but we wouldn’t trade any of them for all the love they have given.
Maybe we can focus on the love Daisy’s sisters had for her. In her last days, each of them made a point of coming by and washing her, understanding her pain and displaying affection and such devotion that reminds me of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.
The Rainbow Bridge has just received another angel. Her name is Daisy; she is free, not forgotten.