I greeted the New Year with an emptiness in my heart and in my home that was palatable. It seemed so much quieter and more still somehow, despite Lexington and Bobcat on the sofa in the living room. How is it that an eight-pound cat, who just in September was a sturdy thirteen pounds, could have such a big personality and presence? Topper left us on December 30, 2017 to explore the other side of this life—Heaven, the Other Side; wherever our spirit goes when our body can no longer hold it.
In October, Topper was diagnosed with advanced stage gastrointestinal lymphoma. He had started loosing weight, vomiting and his eating dwindled from hearty to a few licks and bites, even though he still seemed interested in the feline pate I was serving. During the first vet visit I had blood work done, which didn’t reveal anything unusual. But after meds to treat the symptoms didn’t do much, I took him in again for an ex-ray, which also revealed nothing menacing. He seemed in good health. Two weeks after that, I noticed him thinner and awoke at 2:00 a.m. just in time to catch him vomiting blood. My heart broke as I heard a voice in my head that screamed, “cancer.” I pulled him next to me in bed after cleaning the mess; barely slept and took him to the animal hospital at 7:30 in the morning, leaving him with staff until the vet got in.
I arrived at work with having only four hours sleep, without having taken a shower, wearing no make-up, jeans and a t-shirt. I shut my office door and avoided co-workers. Thanks to a major adrenaline rush from the stress, I was hyper alert and managed to accomplish a lot considering the grave condition that my Topper was in. The vet called with a dark scenario—Topper’s liver was shutting down, he was in bad shape and cancer was the suspect. That afternoon an ultrasound revealed the suspected demon—advanced cancer. Topper was stabilized and given a long-acting steroid, anti-nausea meds and an antibiotic. The plan was to keep him comfortable and to see how he would manage on the steroid.
Two days later he still wasn’t eating much and was quiet and listless. I stopped into Coast Pet Supply, despondent and sad as I told Topper’s condition to Francisco who was on duty at the register and who recommended hemp oil to quell the nausea and reduce inflammation. I gave Topper a dose at 4:30 in the afternoon and a couple hours later, he came out from hiding in the bathroom and seemed alert. He meowed at me. “Sweetie, are you actually hungry?” I inquired. “Meeeow,” he replied, and promptly gobbled down more food than I’d seen him eat in a month.
I believe the hemp oil was very instrumental in giving him a decent quality of life until late December, when his body started to shut down. After a second trip to the vet on a Wednesday to remove fluids from his tummy; having twice the amount of fluid removed from two weeks prior, he lost interest in food and in all activities. His face was drawn and he was thinner than a week prior. On Saturday morning I called the animal hospital to let them know it was “time.” My vet was on vacation, but a vet tech recommended an in-home euthanasia service, Home Pet Euthanasia of Southern California.
Topper passed sweetly and peacefully on the sofa, nestled in my arms and wrapped in an afghan knitted by my mom. Lexington and Bobcat lounged on the floor and watched as I kissed Topper’s head and said, “Good-bye Love Bug…”
In loving memory of Topper who came into my life as a nine-month old kitten in May of 2007, full of spunk and spirit. I love him deeply and miss him dearly.
Sidebar: Dr. Julie of Home Pet Euthanasia was serene and kind, making a compassionate transition for Topper. He was treated with such respect and dignity down to the delivery of his ashes directly to my home, which were contained in a beautiful wood box with a carving of branches from the Tree of Life on the lid. While the moment of his departure was extremely painful, I found such peace, relief and joy (yes–hard to believe) in the way that “Top Cat” was able to make his exit.