Over the last two months, I’ve had the utter pleasure to watch Doris blossoming from a gawky (but very cute) little kitten with bandy legs into a sleek and playful kitten. I knew when I got her that she had a heart murmur although this is apparently quite common in kittens and, most of the time, they grow out of them. The shelter had requested that I take her to the vet once a month for a checkup until she was six months old, to which I was happy to agree.
Her first checkup at the beginning of September went well. She’d gone from 600g at the beginning of August and was now 1.18kg. Her heart sounded OK although the murmur was still there – at about a Grade 3 on a scale from 1 to 6, 6 being the most severe. The vet wasn’t worried. I mentioned that she had the occasional flop out, where she would just sit and breathe heavily for a minute or so and then pick up as though someone had pressed a reset button. I’d managed to get some footage of one of these flopouts and the vet thought that it was perhaps where the heart may be working a bit harder and she was just breathless.
In the meantime, she continued to grow, playing with Mabel and got bigger and stronger.
She was a cuddly cat, climbing onto my lap first thing in the morning while I had my breakfast and demanding a fuss. Life’s too short to ignore that kind of cuteness and I was very nearly late for work more than once!
Her second checkup last week saw her up to 1.81kg and I was happy. The vet said the murmur was a Grade 3-4 and I didn’t really think too much of it at the time and assumed that the two vets had slightly different reference criteria. The flopouts had decreased, both in frequency and severity so I left the surgery feeling as though I was doing a good job. Doris certainly seemed happy.
Yesterday, however, when I went upstairs she was curled up next to the bed and not looking very happy. She was having a flopout, she looked startled and was reluctant for me to come near her (which is very unusual). I stayed with her and, after half an hour, was concerned enough to call the vet. I took her straight in and the news wasn’t good. It seemed that the murmur had worsened and the prognosis was bad. They booked her in for a heart scan on Thursday and gave her a diuretic injection with some diuretic tablets for me to keep her going until the scan. I took her home, my pockets full of tissues and my eyes red and swollen.
By late evening, she was starting to have panting episodes, so I called the 24 hour vet and took her in. They did a heart scan there and then and said the murmur had progressed to Grade 6 and her left ventricle was enlarged. The worse news possible. They wanted to keep her in but there was no guarantee that would do much good other than be palliative so I opted against their advice and took her home with another diuretic injection being given.
Last night was one of the worst night of my life. I hardly slept and kept waking up to check on her. The second injection seemed to help her more than the first and she actually slept, breathing a little heavier than normal but no panting. She wasn’t really interested in food, no matter what tasty morsel I tried to tempt her with and she would only take a couple of drops of cat milk from my finger and wasn’t interested in lapping from the bowl.
By this morning, I knew I had to take her back to the vet. My eyes felt like they had grit in them from crying so much. We all mourn the loss of our fur babies but somehow when they’re so young, it cuts that much deeper. Certainly this morning I was nearly overwhelmed with grief – that little darling looked up into my face this morning and searched my face. She managed to purr for me twice but the effort tired her out quite quickly and she curled up in her furry house and went to sleep again.
I felt like a total Judas as I carefully bundled her into the carrier for the third time in 18 hours and drove to the vet again. I tried to keep my voice as light as possible as I chattered to her all the way there.
At 10.00am this morning, my little baby girl was put to sleep in my arms. As a testament to how tired she really was, her heart stopped beating almost before the injection was finished. I know I made the right choice but my heart feels as though it’s in shreds at the moment. That little munchkin managed to worm her way so far into my heart within minutes of her arrival and has left a very big hole indeed.