Ghlaghghee Update, 1/23/15

Folks have been asking how Ghlaghghee is. In brief: Fading. She’s lost a lot of weight, is unsteady on her feet, and spends most of her time sleeping in this particular place (under an end table in the living room, next to the love seat). I’ve taken her to vet and the verdict is: Not getting better, and not likely to.

We’ve had the discussion about if and when to put her down, and our general thinking is that unless Ghlaghghee is showing obvious signs of pain (which she is not), our plan is to keep her warm, keep her loved, and let her end her days here at home if at all possible rather than at the vet’s. In the meantime, we go on.

So that’s where we are with Ghlaghghee.

64 Comments on “Ghlaghghee Update, 1/23/15”

  1. We went through this process with our cats… the slow winding down. May Ghlaghghee have as many cozy family days as she can get.

  2. Peace to you all.

    I’m convinced that Heinlein got the idea for the Methuselahs from his own relationship with cats: “Their little lives rarely held time enough for love.” And yet many companion animals manage to pack more love into their little lives than we humans in our longer ones.

  3. Thank you for the update. Here’s hoping it never happens, but if the time does come where she’s in obvious pain you might consider looking into a vet that will make a home visit specifically for this purpose. Not sure how rural you are, but in my area we’ve got two vets who specialize in home visits for when it’s time to say goodbye to a loved one. Way less stress on pets and people.

  4. I am sorry this is happening, we went through it with our Veronica. You have our sympathy.

  5. Aw, kitty. :( I’d offer her a virtual hug, but I’m not sure if I would get my virtual face handed back to me.

    Let there be plenty of noms ’till the end of the days! Much love, much scritchings.

  6. I don’t know if this will make a difference or not for your cat. Or whether or not you’ve tried it, but I helped a friend’s cat and my parents’ cat by changing the cat food. Both cats are around 20 years old now. Both have up and down days but the friend’s cat was losing hair, her spine was extremely boney and she walked like she was walking on glass. She was also eating like she was starving but only losing weight. Changing the food made an immediate difference for her.

    I initially switched her over to Wellness grainfree brand (dry and canned). The cat responded to it. Hair came back, spine filled in and started jumping again. The owner has since explored other foods and combinations to find what works best on a longer term basis but it’s been 3 years and the cat doesn’t walk like she’s walking on glass anymore.

    We just started ,my parent’s cat on it as part of a bigger diet including non-cat food items. She’s also responded although she’s much more up and down. She’s a bit older than the first cat and was a rescued outdoor kitty so it’s more of a day to day thing. But she’s definitely having more spritely days than before.

    I wish you and your family well.


  7. All the best to you all. We recently had to say goodbye to our 20+ yr old kitty. We knew taking her to vet would be needlessly traumatic, and chose to use Lap of Love (a traveling euthanasia service). The vet who came out to us was so kind and loving. We hated to say goodbye but were glad to be able to end her pain in the comfort of her own home.

  8. So sorry to hear that the meds aren’t helping as much as hoped.

    Thank you for loving Ghlaghghee enough to allow her to end her days surrounded by comfort, warmth and the love of her two-legged family. May her passing be peaceful and easy when the time comes.

    Sending chin-scratches and face-rubs to the fur-person, and hugs to all.

  9. :( Ghlaghghee couldn’t be more loved! My cats lived to be 20 and 24 and both passed away at home. It’s never easy sending love and hugs to everyone!

  10. Hi, Jon. Kasey here, from “From My Shelf Books & Gifts” in Wellsboro, PA. FYI, just a little background, we’ve been big fans of yours since early in your career (and ours), and have followed your posts and your books regularly for a while. My husband, Kevin, and our asst. manager, Jen, handsell your books all the time. Anyway, in addition to being bibliophiles and sci-fi geeks, we are animal lovers extraordinaire, in particular cats. We feel your particular pain for your dear Ghlaghghee. We just went through this last January with our beloved Hobo, who was the bookstore cat, but our cat first, before we even had the bookstore. He was beloved by the community, but, of course, first and foremost by us, and we felt his downtown and eventual death keenly. We now have Huck & Finn to keep us company and to cheer our bookstore community, but it’s never easy, and no one is ever replaced. Love, hugs, and peace from us, to you and your family.

  11. I’m so sorry to hear it. The worst thing about our most common species for pets is how short their lives are compared to ours. I’m glad Ghlaghghee has people who love her and will keep her warm and comfortable.

  12. As a former hospice nurse, I believe you are doing the best thing for her. Safe and loved at home is the best possible way to go. And if she gets uncomfortable, traveling vets are really compassionate (in my limited experience). Keeping all of you in my thoughts and wishing Ghlaghghee the gentlest possible passing.

  13. Sympathy, and thanks for the update. She’s obviously getting the best care possible. Both our cats were put down at home and that made a huge difference to the quality of our farewells to them.

  14. Thanks for the update. Your plan is the right one of course. (Can you tell us how to pronounce her name?)

  15. John, if the worst comes to the worst and you need to end the pain, is there any chance of the vet coming to you to do it, rather than having to take her to the vet? The last time we had to put a beloved family dog down, the vet came out to us and we held him under the willow tree in the garden on a summers day and he just slipped away. Perhaps this isn’t possible in the US (I am in the UK), or with your vet, but we thought the call out fee was the least we could do: Robbie had none of the trauma of a last journey, and went out in the the most peaceful of surroundings. Just a thought

  16. It’s a difficult time. My sympathies to all of you, and scritches to all the fur-folk who will accept them.

  17. If Ghlaghghee is a cat who likes catnip (not all cats are), try sprinkling some over her food. She may not eat more, but she’ll enjoy it more.

  18. Sounds like my cat before I had to take her to the vets. She was 18 1/2 when she passed away. Hugs to your kitties..

  19. Awww. Keeping her warm and comfortable is the nicest thing ever. Eventually, she’ll probably start hiding. That’s what my old, sick cats did. As long as you can give a little warmth and cushioning to their hiding spots, that’s all that’s necessary.

  20. When it came time to put our cat down, we got a vet to come to the house and do it there, no fear, no pain and a good exit. You need to find a vet with the correct insurance (most large animal vets have this.) It was a fine release for a good friend.

  21. I am very sad for you, reading this, but your cat is lucky to have a loving and unselfish human family. I’m glad that she isn’t in pain, and gets to spend her last days with her caring human “staff,” save and loved.

  22. “our plan is to keep her warm, keep her loved, and let her end her days here at home if at all possible”

    This is the course we chose with our kitty Miriya, who we recently lost to cancer. It’s very rough knowing your kitty family member is going, but we gave her lots of love, the treats she enjoyed, and kept her as comfortable as possible. We’re lucky she went on her own terms, in her own home & in her favorite spot, although we’re fortunate in that if we had to, we could have called a home hospice vet to euthanize her at home. We still miss her but wouldn’t change a thing about the near decade we got to spend with her.

    I hope Ghlaghghee continues to pass her final days in comfort. My condolences to you & your family.

  23. Come the day, may Bast bless her furry soul (this ninth time), and grant peace and warmest memories to you all.

  24. You and all of the Scalzis have my sympathy. Losing a pet is hard, and I doubt if knowing it’s going to happen makes it any easier. I’ve read your blog long enough that I am quite sure you have a house full of love, and that you will make it as easy for Ghlaghghee. Do keep an eye on the other pets. Pets do grieve when they lose a friend, too

  25. May Ghlaghghee’s remaining days be filled with peace and comfort, and may you all find peace and comfort in her memory.

  26. Our vet will come out to your house to put your pet down. (Well not all the way to your house, but you could ask your vet.) That really makes the whole experience so much easier on the pet owner.

  27. I’m sure you know, but I’ll share my experience with our last two cats . . . they tend not to show discomfort and pain unless it’s really, really bad.

    In both cases, we thought we waited too long, especially with our last one since, despite her physical appearance and having slowed a whole lot, her blood work was actually pretty good.

    The problem is that the end came very quickly. We had finally made the decision to have the vet euthanize her, and had to move up the timeline by five days because one morning it was very obvious she was in distress (she was ‘fine’ the previous evening).

    Part of the difficulty is that many vets will work with the owners to try and prolong the pet’s life. We repeatedly asked our vet for an honest opinion, and it was always “well, she’s old, but her blood work is really good”. It wasn’t until later that she told us (which by then we knew), that we might have waited too long.

    The fear was always that they were suffering, and needlessly so other than for our own reluctance to make the decision.

    We decided she was going to be our last pet, at least for the foreseeable future.

  28. Hugs. When we euthanized our cat Tommy because he had cancer throughout his jaw and starting to eat his bod, we gave him the best possible day. I still have a photo from that day seating on my desk.

    Our Animals are our family, and I can not imagine doing anything better than your choice.

  29. Poor Ghlaghghee, and poor Scalzis. It’s inevitable, but that doesn’t make it less painful. The Ghlaghghee Fan Club will observe a moment of silence in Radiant She’s honor, I only wish Chang Who Is Not Chang were around.

  30. Ghlaghghee seems to be going much the way my Pixel did about a year ago, fading slowly but surely . May Ghlaghghee (and the Scalzis) find comfort in her final days.

  31. Some of you are making me feel bad because my Rufus was euthanized at the vet. :( We didn’t know it’d be his last trip there, but his body reacted badly to the blood transfusion and after much other work it was time. I did at least manage to get there and leave a shirt of mine (his favorite comfort item) for him to snuggle (again, before we knew it would happen, so we weren’t there at the end; also, the attending vet recommended we not come in given his condition). And the tech who clipped his fur for me wrote us a very kind note in which she mentioned she cuddled and kissed him for us, so at least he had someone with him as well as the shirt (which I haven’t been able to wear since, as it says “Ask me about my cat” on it). ;_;

    We have twelve other cats at home, though, and I really think the experience of having a stranger come in for this would not have been more detrimental for them. It’s probably different for a less-saturated petwise home.

    Nicoleandmaggie, I’m so sorry you had to say goodbye so soon.

  32. :-(

    Thinking warm furry thoughts for Ghlaghghee. I will give my furball an extra squeeze tonight in her honour. He’s not getting any younger, either.

  33. Poor little cat.

    We just had to put down our oldest dog the day after New Years. We think he had a stroke, because a few nights earlier he came in from the back suddenly unable to walk without crashing into walls and using them for support. He may also have lost the ability to chew, because the only solid food he ate after than was a few thin slices of lamb leg on NYE that he swallowed whole and almost immediately threw up. After a couple more days of not keeping anything down but small amounts of water, we took him in. The vet couldn’t tell what exactly happened, but she was pretty sure his old body was just giving up the ghost, and if organ failure didn’t kill him he’d likely just starve to death in a few days.

    He was a great ranch dog, who raised a pit bull mix puppy to be another great ranch dog. We’d adopted him, soon after moving to Colorado, as a 7 year old, morbidly obese, pre-diabetic lab-chow mix with a history of “escape artistry”. Apparently, he didn’t like being locked in a bathroom while his previous 2 (!?!) sets of owners worked all day. Not only did he never once try to escape from us, he lost the weight so fast we were afraid he’d damage his kidneys or something. But, nope, he just liked having space to run, and a family to love him, and lived to the impossibly old age (for a lab or chow) of 15. Sleep well, ol’ Duke. We miss you.

  34. I’m sorry that she’s fading, but glad that she’s surrounded both by love and the great comfort of all that she is familiar with…

  35. For the people worried about NOT having their pet euthanized at home, you just do the best you can in the area you live with the vets you know.
    For the people worrying about waiting too long, I think we always wait just a bit too long, but if you don’t, well then you’ll think you just callously put them down too soon.

    Right now I have a probably older than eight years ferret (the expected lifespan being 5 to 8 years). He has at least three kinds of cancer. By the amount he pees, he’s probably got kidney issues. And there’s pretty good evidence of some kind of dementia. He sleeps maybe 23 hours a day, and falls over when he runs. Every day I wonder if it’s time, but then every day he has a few good moments.

  36. I’m so sorry to hear this. Pets are such a source of joy and love. I’m going through something similar with my Willow. I don’t know if the stories and suggestions are helpful to you, but in case they are, here’s my 2 cents.

    In addition to 3 specific medical issues, she was lethargic, allowing the other cat to push her around, wasn’t eating and drinking enough and basically was going downhill fast. She is now on an appetite stimulant and I’m injecting 50cc of IV fluid per day (not bad for someone who had a needle phobia a month ago). She now has more energy, her coat is improving and she’s started fighting when I give her the other meds, which means she’s back to her sweet but feisty self. It doesn’t solve the other medical issues but she’s a lot more comfortable for the time she has left and that time seems to be extended.

  37. It will be good for her if she’s able to pass away in a comfortable, familiar environment. On the last day of my cat Sammy’s life, he had some distressing symptoms, and I took him to the after-hours vet, which ultimately resulted in two car trips, being in a cage overnight, and then the long sleep. By the time he went, he was miserable from the vets. In retrospect I wish I had just kept him at home and let him go on his own schedule. I’m sorry for your impending loss – it seems as though she’s had a marvelous life.

  38. I’m so sad that the light of the Radiant She is dimming and will soon wink out. Unfortunately, the day we bring a beloved pet into our home is the day the clock starts ticking toward the time we’ll suffer the heartbreak of their departure.

    Blessings to her and blessings to you, Krissy, and Athena. I’ll send a prayer up to Bast for comfortable last days and a gentle end. Merry Meet and Merry Part and Merry Meet Again…

  39. Ah, poor Radiant She. Her radiance is definitely dimmed in this photo: she looks like what she is, a sick old cat.

    Doesn’t sound like her condition is painful, so I think you made the right call. Let her fade away quietly at home. Pet her and let her eat whatever she wants.

  40. Oh sweet Ghlaghghee, sending you all peace and love. We had to put our dog down late last year, it’s such a heartbreaking thing to lose a pet.

  41. I am glad Ghlaghghee has been able to share many happy years as part of your family, and sorry that won’t include many more. I won’t say that I know what she means to you, but I know what my cats have meant to me, and my thoughts are with all of you.

  42. I’m so sorry. I offer such support in this hard time as I can offer from afar. And more than that, when the long-expected but still-shocking day arrives. Many good thoughts for Ghlaghghee’s peaceful transition and healing for your hearts.