Essay: Euthanasia for Tomi

One month has passed since I sent Tomi, my female feline companion for the last 18 years, off on her new journey.  She was put to sleep because she was suffering from kidney failure.

Prior to her falling critically ill, I had been away for three weeks, during which time she was well looked after at the chatterie, where she had always stayed whenever I was away on mission or holiday.  It was like her second home, as she knew its owner and its staff well.  When I went to pick her up on my return, she looked as healthy as ever.  She had apparently eaten normally during her stay there and had a fairly good appetite after coming home.

One thing I noticed though after bringing her home this time was that she was much more affectionate toward me than usual.  At night, she had been used to sleep on my bed around where my feet were.  This time, in the middle of the night, I found her asleep with her body pressed against my head and her little head on my pillow.  I took it as a sign that she had missed me terribly while she was at the cat pension, so I gently stroked her a few times.

After our happy reunion everything seemed to have returned to normal.  However, the next day, she stopped eating, except for tiny pieces of tuna sashimi, her favorite food, which I fed into her mouth with my fingers while holding her.  Four days later, she stopped drinking water and soon her litter box stayed completely dry.

During these six days, I took her for three blood tests, the results of which indicated that her blood sugar level either dropped or increased sharply and erratically.  The vet was trying to ascertain the new dose of insulin she should receive, instead of the amount she had been getting every morning and evening over the last two-and-a-half years.  Sadly, the final blood test showed that her kidneys had stopped functioning altogether.  So he had no choice but to recommend that she be put to sleep as soon as possible so as to end her suffering.

Although overwhelmed with the immense sadness of having to terminate Tomi’s precious life –she had lived with me longer than anyone else, including my parents –I immediately accepted the vet’s decision.  When I had faced a similar situation with my male cat, Malice (see the essay, “Euthanasia for Malice” on my blog of June 2011) almost a year earlier, I had not accepted his decision immediately and prolonged Malice’s life by one day, which regrettably had made him suffer needlessly.  This time, I was able to decide quickly based on what was the best for Tomi.

Considering that Tomi became seriously ill only one day after coming home, I have been wondering if her diabetic and kidney condition had deteriorated gradually while I was away.  It is possible that animals may have the ability to foresee their own death, that she had known that her life would soon come to an end in view of her age and her physical condition, and that despite her deteriorating situation, she was determined to sustain herself long enough, rather than leave this world, to say good-bye properly to me?  If that was the case, I am so grateful to her for having waited for my return, for having allowed me to spend her final days with her, and for having made it possible for me to send her off on her new journey while holding her.

After adopting her from the animal shelter nearby home and our having been together for 18 years, including three years in Sri Lanka, I am now slowly getting used to not having her around or to greet me at the door when I come home.  She has given me so much love and comfort and has left me with so many heart-warming memories I will cherish for years to come.  Thank you, Tomi.

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This entry was posted in animal behavior, Cat, Euthanasia, Memoir and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Essay: Euthanasia for Tomi

  1. Marianne says:

    Dear Shizue,
    I have just read what you wrote about Tomi’s departure. The same effect happens often to human beings; nurses, doctors and relatives know it well. A dying person can wait, until a relative turns up, before leaving our world. No scientific explanation – but a fine event. Cheers M.

    • Dear Marianne,
      Thank you for your comment. I had wanted to write about this recent event soon after her departure, but each time I started writing, I got too emotional, but finally managed to finish it only a few days ago. My sadness is gradually being replaced by all the happy memories she left behind. ST

  2. mjaclark12M says:

    Shizue – I remember the day my husband’s family was called to the bedside of my husband’s mother and we all were told she was dying, that she had precious little time left. One of her nephews, Mark, was hard to locate and we feared he would not arrive until after Olive had passed. Hours dragged by very slowly and when Olive went into unconsciousness we were she was at her end. To our, and the doctor’s & nurses surprise, Olive kept breathing and breathing if ever so slowly and quietly. Finally, Mark arrived. He bent over Olive to tell her he had arrived and that he loved her. She tried to say something, held his hand, released her last breathe and left this world. We all believe to this day that Olive remained on earth until she was surrounded by all her loving family so that she could pass in peace & love to the world of spiritual grace for which most of us can only imagine. There is much we do not understand, but I do believe both animals and humans know when they will die. However, their knowing they are going to pass does not make it any easier for those of us left behind to carry on without them. Because we live in a finite world, so life obliges……….So sorry about Tomi. But, as you said, you are left with wonderful memories. MJ

    • Mari Jo, Thank you very much for sharing this lovely and touching story from your family. A friend of mine who read my essay on Tomi also told me about her experience similar to mine. Shizue

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