[Editor’s note] One of the most difficult problems facing any animal caretaker is deciding when to end the suffering of a beloved friend. Over the years, we have learned that although this can be a kindness when there is no other way to ease the pain that can come at the end of life, we should not be too hasty to choose euthanasia. As this story by Jess Langer, a longtime volunteer and member of our community illustrates, modern veterinary care and the special power of love can give even the sickest animal years of a life that is worth living. We met Buddy a year or so ago, and agree that he is truly a lucky cat. Now for Buddy’s Story, by Jess Langer.
Buddy’s Story, by Jessica Langer
When we first heard the diagnosis we were heartbroken. Scary words: cancer, heart failure, blindness. Certainly never words you want to hear spoken about someone you love. As we sat in the vet’s office, I had already started grieving. How long could an elderly cat live with these conditions? I should have known, though, never to underestimate our Buddy.
Buddy’s journey started nearly two years ago. Noticing that he seemed a little lethargic, we made an appointment for him to visit his regular veterinarian for a checkup. We couldn’t believe it when our vet told us Buddy was blind, likely due to a complication common with leukemia-positive cats. Sure enough, blood tests revealed that Buddy had the infection. But Buddy’s trials weren’t quite over yet. Further tests revealed that he had advanced heart disease and lymphoma that had spread to his lungs.
We were determined, though, to give Buddy the best possible life we could. Trips to his medical team — especially his wonderful and caring ophthalmologist — have become routine and a battery of medicines help to keep the worst of the conditions at bay. In fact, at a recent checkup, his doctor marveled at Buddy’s good health and his body’s ability to quickly heal itself.
All the medicine in the world, though, wouldn’t have helped if Buddy (or we) had given up. But Buddy is determined to stay here with this dad. The two have an incredibly close relationship, which has only deepened over the years. Often, we hear Buddy making his loud “little old man” calls to get Morgan’s attention (or just to let us know that it’s dinnertime). And snuggle time with Dad is one of the highlights of Buddy’s day. Far from being depressed or bemoaning his health challenges, Buddy greets each day with enthusiasm and happiness.