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What happened to Tugger - A Suburbs Boy Living a Country Life [Pete and Pam's pages (photos and some commentary)] [Pam's journal] [Our company] [My Flickr Photos] [Arisia]
May 31st, 2006
03:54 pm

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What happened to Tugger
Tugger has been having a number of problems, all piling up. He had kidney disease. He had (undiagnosed) Feline Leukemia (FIV), despite vaccination. He developed lymphoma. He began chemotherapy, but then became too anemic to continue without blood transfusions.

He's been heading downhill, but then over the weekend he seemed to surge back. He was eating, drinking, walking with very little of the limp from the lymphoma tumor on his foreleg. He no longer needed to be let out--he started climbing his "cat tree" to get out his cat door again. Then, to everyone's surprise, he began hunting again, triumphantly "bagging" a chipmunk. Knowing Tugger, actually, he probably never stopped hunting--but catching, not so much.

All that changed yesterday. I got a call from the mother of the young man who was feeding Tugger and walking and feeding the dogs. Tugger was in such good spirits that he was successfully fighting off their attempts to give him his steroid pill. The mom asked if I could come and pill him. Tugger's never liked being pilled--but he'd put up with it from his family. [He was also always very good for me when I took him to the vet].

I got to the house and couldn't find him. I figured he was out hunting, and called him. That usually brought him back. No joy. I searched the basement, and couldn't find him. Frustrated, I went upstairs to let the dogs out, hoping Tugger would come back. Through the basement door, I heard him meow for me from downstairs...but where?!

I went back downstairs, and he talked again--he was collapsed on the floor of the darkened utility room, his rear legs dragging uselessly. Thinking perhaps the anemia had made him weak, and foolishly hoping that he just needed some food or water, I brought his bowls over. He wasn't interested. I ran upstairs to get the vet's number--he dragged himself through the food bowl to follow me. I felt so defeated. He had obviously crawled in to the utility room in order to die. I felt like my arrival had given him some false hope that I could save him.

The vet told me that he had likely suffered a clot in the arteries that supply the legs with blood. Aggressive "clot-busters" might--possibly--help an otherwise healthy cat, but Tugger's chances were slim and his condition was already terminal from the lymphoma. She continued on, obviously trying to reconcile me to what was now all too painfully obvious. I cut her off mid-sentence, as gently as I could, and told her that I already knew what we needed to do. I had been holding it together up to this point, but as I put that sentence together, I finally lost it. As I write about it now, I'm losing it again.

She promised to wait for me.

Tugger had such limited mobility, I just sat him in the car with me, at first in the passenger seat cradled between the seat back and my gym bag, where I could pet him and keep an eye on him. He wanted to be in my lap, so I took him there and rode gingerly the rest of the way, stopping to call for directions--I was so out of it, I'd forgotten which side of Vienna the vet was on. It was just as well, as Tugger was starting to act car sick, and I didn't want his last few minutes to be spent nauseated. I kept the car stopped and petted him until the "hiccups" subsided and drove the last few blocks--I had been headed the right direction, and lost confidence that I was going the right way.

The staff at the clinic were very compassionate. I kept Tugger looking at me, and petted him the whole time. He purred and didn't fuss, at all. They had to use his one good leg--the circulation in the rear legs was compeletely gone and the leg with the lymphoma was suspect. Tugger seemed to pass away completely peacefully and almost instantly with the injection of the euthanasia agent, despite all the scary possibilities of movement and vocalizations, etc. against which the vet had prepared me.

As deaths go, I believe there's no such thing as a good one. This was as good as it could be under the circumstances. I'm glad that I, his "first person" after he came to me and Scotti as a street-rescue, could be with him at the last.

Tugger, 2003

When I get a chance, I'll write more about the rest of the day. Telling Q was hard: "It's okay to cry, son; your daddy is crying, too."

Current Mood: sadsad
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From:alcinoe
Date:May 31st, 2006 08:00 pm (UTC)
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Even without the picture I was all choked up reading this. He looks a lot like my oreo..
I am SO very very sorry. I have heard that cats and dogs often act like they are doing really well right before the end comes. I guess it is sort of like a lot of people wanting to get their affairs in order before they succomb to whatever is ailing them.
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From:happypete
Date:June 1st, 2006 02:10 am (UTC)

I know what you mean...

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but it's so hard...I think we all took it as a sign that he was rallying, maybe fighting the cancer on his own a little...you know, the crazy things you come up with like "gee, maybe the couple of weeks of chemo before his anemia got too bad kick-started his immune system." I was going to suggest that since his energy levels were back up, maybe we should draw blood and restart the chemo if his anemia had subsided...that sort of thing...

then, boom, all that hope comes crashing down...
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From:davidkevin
Date:May 31st, 2006 08:00 pm (UTC)

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I'm so very, very sorry.

May he always shine in your memory.

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From:happypete
Date:June 1st, 2006 02:11 am (UTC)

he will...

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he had his quirks, no doubt; he was very assertive about his needs...but he never bit...his ultimate expression of displeasure was to place his teeth on your hand--an unequivocal message: "while I could bite you, I will not--but you must cease acting in a way that displeases me."
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From:coleoptera
Date:May 31st, 2006 08:01 pm (UTC)
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Oh, Pete. I'm so sorry.

*hug*
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From:happypete
Date:June 1st, 2006 02:12 am (UTC)

Thanks, brother...

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* hugs * back
From:mama_hogswatch
Date:May 31st, 2006 08:02 pm (UTC)
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From:happypete
Date:June 1st, 2006 02:16 am (UTC)

Re: I'm so very sorry

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I'm a big believer in speaking the truth. Quinn understood what I told him, he held it together as I told him about Tugger getting sick, and me having to take him to the vet, and that it was very serious. As I was getting to the crux of it, he interrupted me, quavering just short of sobs, but just holding it in--"...and, Dad, is Tugger going to die?" I answered him that I was very sorry, but that he had already died at the vet's office. Well, that pretty much tore it wide open for both of us.
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From:mabfan
Date:May 31st, 2006 08:03 pm (UTC)
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You have my condolences.
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From:happypete
Date:September 1st, 2007 06:20 pm (UTC)

I never did reply to this...

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Thank you for your thoughts. He was a special cat, I still think of him from time-to-time.
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From:martinhesselius
Date:May 31st, 2006 08:03 pm (UTC)
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*Hug*
I lost a feline friend this year, and last.
I think you did the best thing -
It is hard, though.
*Hug*
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From:wasabi_poptart
Date:May 31st, 2006 08:07 pm (UTC)
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It's been almost a year since I lost Oscar. You have my empathy as well as my sympathy.
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From:flyingwolf
Date:May 31st, 2006 08:10 pm (UTC)
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sniff.
I'm glad you were with him. Big hugs.
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From:sugared_redhead
Date:May 31st, 2006 08:11 pm (UTC)
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I'm so sorry *hugs*
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From:songwind
Date:May 31st, 2006 08:17 pm (UTC)
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*tight hugs*

I'm so sorry to hear this, my friend.
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From:vvalkyri
Date:May 31st, 2006 08:23 pm (UTC)
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Pretty cat. :tears, too:
:hugs;
From:squibbon
Date:May 31st, 2006 08:23 pm (UTC)
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From:yendi
Date:May 31st, 2006 08:27 pm (UTC)
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*hugs*

I'm so sorry. I teared up just reading this.
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From:swiftangel
Date:May 31st, 2006 08:31 pm (UTC)
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*hugs*
From:bethynyc
Date:May 31st, 2006 08:36 pm (UTC)
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