Goodbye Sketch

Sketch at his finest

A few years ago I remember saying that if my cat ever dies, my life will change drastically. I’m about to find out how.

Sketch went the way of his ancestors this evening after more than fifteen and a half years of life. Never let it be said that we didn’t try hard enough to help this guy keep going. To sum:

–In 2014 he was diagnosed with diabetes type 2, necessitating twice daily (or more) blood glucose checks and twice daily insulin shots. It became very difficult to go on date nights or family outings. At the age of ten, our daughter had to learn how to give the cat a shot. I organized my life around the cat’s care schedule.

–In 2015 after several months of remission from diabetes, it came back along with pancreatitis and diabetic ketoacidosis. After three nights in the vet hospital (which included some sort of issues with his heart) and a huge vet bill, we brought him home with multiple medications. We had to force feed him for days. Somehow, he got better, but was back on insulin.

–In 2018 we had chronic kidney failure to add to the list of woes, followed by high blood pressure and medication for it.

–Around December 30, 2018, we noticed Sketch wasn’t really eating much at all. Then we saw he wasn’t drinking either. That was ominous, because this cat always loved water and no glass was safe from his muzzle.

–January 11, 2019 we were told he had tongue cancer. The horror! The cat couldn’t use his tongue, and so he couldn’t groom himself. He’d drink by sticking his muzzle in a cup of water and just open his mouth. He’d eat by sloppily attacking food with his face, and half of it would fall to the ground, glued to the carpet or bowl by this sticky, gelatinous gunk that kept leaking out of his mouth. We started him on bupenorphine, a heavy duty pain killer, and for a while he seemed like he was improving. But no.

–January 21 I took a photo of him, below. I’ve taken a lot of photos of this cat over the years. I had to confess he looked very unhappy. I felt almost selfish trying to keep him going. I looked up a feline pain scale online and he was at a 3 out of 5, on bupenorphine.


Sad cat

–January 22 he was in bed beside us and kept opening and closing his mouth all night long. Even through earplugs I could hear the sticky saliva gunk he was struggling with.

–This morning he seemed truly miserable, and we saw blood in the drool. At least 4 out of 5 on the feline pain scale. We looked in his mouth and saw that a large part of his tongue had been overrun with this white mass that was claiming his tongue for itself.

Enough is enough, we said.

So now Sketch, the well-loved, super pampered cat is no longer feeling any pain and is buried next to his “friend” and former “cat roommate,” Max.

Eventually, I will stop seeing pieces of cat food and glitter puffs around the house and get used to a catless home. But for now it’s weird. I deleted all the timers on my phone reminding me to check the cat’s blood glucose and give him insulin. Tomorrow I don’t need to clean the catbox, rub high blood pressure medicine in his ear, get my husband’s help to administer bupenorphine, pick up half a dozen bowls of mostly untouched food and replace them with a smorgasbord of foods that would have likely remained untouched.

I’d like to think Sketch is prostrating to Vajrasattva in this one. He has spent more time on my meditation cushion than I have.

What will I do with the free time? Maybe I can finally meditate in the early morning? Do my physical therapy exercises? Get my brain organized to actually take vitamins and supplements regularly instead of haphazardly? All of the above? Perhaps I won’t have to run the dishwasher every day to clean all the bowls of cat food. Maybe I can take up knitting again, since having a chronic case of Lap Cat has made yarn play very difficult. Maybe I could actually see friends again on occasion? Do I have any left?