Sharing the Final Journey with your Pet

final-journeyThe MAVH team consists of experienced petparents of all types, which is not by accident. We believe it is important to truly understand how pets weave their way into our lives and become integral members of our families.
It seems so natural to us because through thick or thin, our pets remain a constant. Always glad to see us, never judgmental (OK, can depend on the day with our cats ) and great at eliciting smiles or outright laughs, they keep us human, which is priceless.

Time passes. We get older. Our pets get older faster.

Here’s where our own Dr. Kelly Altendorf picks up this story…

Watching a pet grow old is hard, especially when they are facing a deteriorating medical condition, or even worse, multiple of them. Most of us have had to make the tough decision to say goodbye to a beloved pet, but there are times when it’s not always the right time, when your pet is still happy and wagging its tail at you, but is facing a cancer diagnosis or something. similar. These are the times when supportive care is most important.

My childhood cat JC is still with me, but I recently diagnosed her with hyperthyroidism, high blood pressure, chronic kidney failure, as well as cancer of her intestines. These are not diagnoses to be taken lightly. But my sweet JC, while drinking more and losing weight, is still eating great, being as vocal as ever, and snuggling up to me every chance she gets! I cannot make the decision to put her to sleep just yet because she’s still happy and has an overall good quality of life. So the decision for hospice care was made. I am not doing anything invasive and unfortunately there is no “cure,” just medications to manage the thyroid disease and stabilize her blood pressure, and working with her appetite to make sure she keeps eating and maintaining her weight. So far, she’s still in charge of her other kitty brothers and sisters and is the grumpy old lady she’s always been!

I’ve also recently added a second special-needs patient to my household- Fifi! She was a scrawny, matted stray kitty found by a local rescue that we diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. Unfortunately, one week later, her heart and kidneys started to fail and she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and chronic kidney failure. With such a grim long-term prognosis and poor adoption future, the decision to euthanize was discussed. But Fifi was eating great, purring, and happy, and I just could not bring myself to say goodbye- so I made the decision to adopt her myself and keep her as happy as possible! I’m happy to report that Fifi is still doing pretty well right now.

Tending to these dear older kitties is definitely a lot of work at my home but I am focused on keeping them as comfortable as possible for as long as possible. It’s all about JC and Fifi having quality of life, not quantity.
Then when I’m finally faced with having to make a final decision about either of them I’ll know we will all be at peace.

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