“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
– Anatole France
The death of a pet is never easy. Having had pets my entire life, I thought I knew how to cope with loss and grief well enough. I was gifted a kitten named Princess when I was 8 years old. I remember always wanting a kitten and I begged and begged until one day, I came home to a gorgeous Persian mix kitten. We named her Princess. She lived a long healthy life and passed away when she was 14 years old. This was my first time dealing with a loss of a pet. I did have hamsters, turtles and birds as a kid, and seeing them pass was hard, but losing a cat was a completely different experience.
When I was in my early 20s, we moved to a landed property and it only felt right to have a pet. I knew I didn’t want to face the eventual loss of a pet, so as much as I wanted to adopt, I didn’t. One day, we heard little meows, crying coming from the backyard. I thought my neighbors left their cats home while they were on vacation. Or I thought a stray cat must’ve given birth somewhere around the neighborhood. Eventually we tracked down the little meows and we discovered a kitten fell into the drain in our house compound. I remember calling the fire brigade for help at 3am. They had to flush the drain pipe with water and I remember a little kitten coming out of the drain pipe, uninjured. I didn’t know what to do, but I remember taking it to the sink and giving it a quick rinse.
The kitten had gone without food and clean water for almost 2 days now. I knew it must have been cold. I cared for it for a few days and gave it food and a warm bed, and eventually adopted it. He was named Hope. Unlike Princess, Hope died a tragic death right before his 1st birthday. We were living in an apartment on the 17th floor and one day, I found Hope laying cold on the Ground floor. Hope never left our house. He was a fully indoor cat. There was a small window in our powder room that led to the front of our house, but Hope never crossed our front grille. I knew Hope’s death was not an accident. I knew it was foul play, I knew one of my neighbors, or the apartment janitor had either accidentally or purposefully pushed Hope down to his death. When I found him, his collar was missing. It was honestly the most devastating pain and guilt I had felt in a long time. I told myself he died upon impact so he didn’t feel much pain. I felt so sad and angry. I felt so sad because I wasn’t there to protect him. I remember crying for months before coming to terms with his death. I thought that was the worst way for a cat to die.
I was wrong.
In early 2017, I was moving back to Malaysia from California. I felt alone and lost. I was at a crossroads and I remember feeling so lonely. I missed having a pet, and yearned to care for another animal. In July 2017, I came across a beautiful American Shorthair kitten at a pet store. It was a tiny, little kitten full of energy. Her surroundings were dirty and unkept, but she just had the spirit that could brighten anyone’s day. She was prancing and jumping and climbing all around. I fell in love instantly. I am not someone who supports the sale of animals in pet stores. I believe in adoption.
I felt so bad just walking away and letting this little girl live another day beyond the prison walls of this pet store.
I took a chance and bought her. That night, I remember setting up her litter box, basket, scratching post, food bowl, etc. I named her Luna because the evening I got her, it was a full moon. She also reminded me of how the moon looked from afar. She had soft, silver and grey fur. And little swirl patterns on her coat that looked like the craters of the moon.
Luna was the most loving, playful and energetic kitten. She was highly intelligent and curious. She was quick at learning tricks and was very vocal. She loved to chirp while bird watching, she would trill every time she walked into a room. She would meow every morning at my door, so I could let her in to cuddle. She was absolutely perfect. We got all her vaccines on time and she was growing into a strong little kitten. We had her spayed end of October 2017, and she completely healed in 3 weeks. She had the drive of a fighter. She was already wanting to go outside to the park in her favorite leash. She loved the outdoors. She loved watching people play tennis.
Luna was very lean and muscular, she was very active and always wanted to be around people. She was confident and happy. Early 2018, I realized Luna was playing less, and at the time, I thought “oh, her spay is finally changing her behavior”, “she is growing into an adult cat, so maybe that’s why she’s getting lazy and less active”. Luna was still seeking out cuddles and affection, and was still eating, drinking and using the litter box on her own. So, I didn’t think she was ill at all. I thought these were all behavioral changes.
A few days later, she was not playing at all. Physically, she looked the same. Just more tired and lethargic. Her belly was also growing. (Again, I thought she was eating and playing less so she was putting on weight + hormonal changes after the spay) At this point, I didn’t want to take any chances, so I took her to the vet to see if she was okay. I thought maybe she had swallowed something or was having a tummy upset. I even thought she had worms. The doctor gave her a deworm and checked her vitals and said all looked and sounded normal. Her gums were pink and she was alert.
A few days later, I noticed she was getting worse and was sleeping 90% of the time. She moved from one place to another and deep down I knew something was wrong. This time I took her to the vet and insisted we run a blood test and ultrasound. Her belly was growing rounder. The ultrasound showed all her organs – they looked normal and her heart was beating normally. The vet tested her for FIV, FeLV, Parvo and FIP. That night he told me all the tests came back negative. He pointed out her blood test showed that she had high cholesterol and it could be fatty liver. He gave me some Vitamin B and Liver support supplements to give her for the next few days and also suggested I have her dry food with lower fat content.
The next week, Luna was still not playing. She was looking more tired than ever. I called the vet and said that her condition was worsening. He referred me to a vet friend of his, who specialized in internal medicine. I went to this vet immediately. He suggested we run an X-ray. From the x-ray, we could see that Luna had fluid in her belly. The fluid created this grey area, preventing us from seeing all the organs normally. I was freaking out. He said he would need to take a sample of the liquid from her abdomen to run some tests.
I hated the thought of Luna getting poked by a needle, but I knew I had to know what was wrong with her. He managed to collect a sample of the liquid. A few minutes later, he called us in and told us the WORST FUCKING NEWS EVER.
He said he ran the Rivalta test on the yellow liquid taken from her abdomen. He said he highly suggests that it is FIP. (Okay, hold up – first of all, I never heard of FIP. None of my cats ever had this, neither does my aunt’s cats. Didn’t know what FIP was.) He said its a 100% fatal disease and that there was no cure or treatment. I literally stood there in shock while he was explaining all this to me. He was saying her protein levels were high and that the virus will eventually attack her immune system and her organs, etc. I was so shocked I couldn’t even respond. The worst part was him saying Luna had about only 2-3 weeks left.
WHAT. THE. FUCK.
I couldn’t accept this information. The moment I got home, I went on a research rampage on FIP. I was googling symptoms and treatments. I was looking at clinical trials abroad, etc. I CAN’T ACCEPT THAT MY CAT WILL DIE IN LESS THAN A MONTH. I was in a state of panic, shock, depression, anger and sadness all at once. For days, I searched the internet and clicked on almost all the links that spoke of FIP. More on FIP here. It was supposed to be pretty rare, something like 5% of kittens/ cats who have coronavirus would eventually get FIP. I can’t believe Luna was that unlucky 5%. There has to be a mistake. I still wanted to believe that she was misdiagnosed with something else; a kidney/ liver/ spleen/ pancreas problem etc.
PS: There are NO 100% accurate tests for FIP! (Rivalta, Immunocomb, etc) These will only test for the coronavirus (which apparently most cats already have), but not the mutation on Coronavirus to FIP.
The next few weeks were hell. Luna was heavily medicated with a steroid said to help with the accumulation of fluid in her belly. She was given Vitamin B, DMG (immune booster), Liver support. The steroid helped for a few weeks. It gave stimulated her appetite to eat. She was getting weaker by the day.
Over the weeks, we had to drain the liquid from her abdomen (once a week) and give her sub-q drips (2 times a week). Luna endured a lot of vet visits and pain. The vet suggested we think of euthanasia when the “time was right”, and when she “shows it in her eyes”. I never even thought I’d have to consider putting my cat to sleep. This disease was rapidly mutating and Luna’s immune system couldn’t fight it off.
It got really bad until she couldn’t get up to eat or drink on her own. We were syringe feeding her every 2-3 hours. I stayed home every single day to care for Luna and spend as much time with her as possible. Her stool was completely liquid. She looked really unwell and stopped grooming herself. She was always resting, but never fully asleep. In a matter of 2 weeks, she deteriorated from a 70% to a 30%.
The 3rd week, Luna had trouble with controlling her pee and poo. She would urinate on herself overnight. I was constantly busy cleaning her, cleaning bedsheets, cleaning floors, etc.) I felt so heartbroken seeing her that way. She was once this active kitten – and now she is bedridden. She wasn’t even 9 months old. I knew deep down, I didn’t want to put her down. Not because of selfish reasons. I believe only God has the right to determine life or death, and that he can make it as swift and painless as possible, or as painful and dreadful as He wants.
I knew I had to let my faith guide me. I dedicated myself to caring for Luna every single minute. Though I knew her end was near, I never gave up on her. Every single day, I’d pray and ask for a miracle. For Luna to be cured, to be happy, to feel no pain, to not suffer. It was incredibly sad to see her in discomfort/ pain. And knowing I couldn’t do anything to help ease her suffering, was probably the WORST feeling ever.
Its like watching a slow, painful, excruciating death.
On the 31st of January, Luna passed away at 8.58am on my bed. I had woken up at 3am to syringe her some food and water. I found her on the floor. She was crying and calling out to me as soon as she saw me. It sounded like a sad, painful meow. It was loud and distressed. I will never forget the sound. Somehow, deep down, I knew that was going to be her last few hours.
I stayed with her from 3am to the time she passed. Holding her in my arms until she took her last breath. Luna had labored breathing, and was gasping for air the last hour. Her paws were cold and she was incredibly anaemic (her gums were pale white). She had no energy left in her, and no matter how much food/ water I syringed her – she would have a gag reflex and vomit it out. The night before she also vomited black liquid. I think it was bile. Her organs were slowly shutting down. I think it started with her pancreas, liver & kidney. Around 7am, her lungs were weak and eventually, the heart slowed down. The last 2 hours were the worst to watch. I was crying hysterically but also had to keep calm to be around Luna. I reminisced every single second I had with Luna. Like flashbacks in my mind. Luna had no life in her eyes. She also had spasms and was panting. The last hour, she wanted to arch her back unnaturally, and her legs were kicking. It was the closest I had seen a cat getting into a fit. I read that sometimes, cats can have an episode or convulsions when their organs shut down one by own (lack of oxygen, blood flow – muscle twitches, etc). It was honestly so scary. That image will forever haunt me in my sleep.
When Luna took her last breath, her eyes were dilated and her mouth was open, gasping for air. It was so hard to watch. She was on her side, in a fetal position. We held her close so she couldn’t have a convulsion and physically injure herself.
We said our final goodbyes to Luna around 11am that morning. She was buried underground in a grave I dug myself. Luna will never be forgotten and will always be loved. Every single memory of Luna is cherished. The house will never be the same without Luna. She was our beloved angel. She brought so much love, joy and laughter to our family in the limited months she had. The house still smells like her. All her toys are now in a box – along with her collar and favorite things. Luna is welcomed to visit us anytime. Our only consolation, is that Luna is in a much better and happier place. She will no longer have to suffer, or feel pain. She is free to roam and run and play up above the clouds. I remember telling Luna before she left, to not forget us, and to know that we love her so dearly. I know that Luna is looking down upon us from up above, and that as much as we love her, God loved her more. Luna can have everything she wants now, things that I can’t give – like her health, in heaven with her Creator.
We miss you Luna. Rest in peace, my little one. I know we will meet again someday, somewhere. In a different place, in a different time, in a different life. Shine down upon us, baby girl. We love you always.
In loving memory.
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