Pets + Parents

There are inevitable times in your life when you are faced with tough choices related to your pets and your parents. Thankfully, I'm not in the decision-making place for the latter as both my mom and my dad (who have been divorced for over 25 years) are in good health (though I worry about my dad's hip, which is sorely in need of replacement, but he is choosing to live in pain, at least with the help of homeopathic remedies). However, my mom is going through her own challenges with my grandmother who was recently hospitalized.

My dilemma is with my pets; particularly, one of my three cats. I am overcome with guilt as I have shared previously that I became a "reformed" cat owner last May when I rescued my dog. Now, to my credit, my cats could care less about me. I originally took my black-and-white cat into my home when her former owners left to work in Yugoslavia sometime in 2000. At that time, it was thought that she was about 4 years old; of course, now she must be 10. She almost died two years ago when her liver began failing. At that time, I plunked about $2,500 into saving her and she turned around on her own (nothing else was working). Now, while she hasn't been in obvious pain, I noticed over the past several weeks that her coat became unkempt and dull while her weight dropped and her stomach became distended. I took her in yesterday, and it seems that she is diabetic and according to the vet, the prognosis is poor and while treatable, the pet owner (me!) needs to decide if a twice-daily schedule of insulin injections for the rest of her life is manageable, both financially and in terms of time.

Now, I am self-employed and this will prove problematic. I have already been struggling with managing time, cash flow (larger clients, slower payers), keeping things afloat, and balancing my personal and professional lives. It has built up recently to the point that I turned off my phones for two weeks over the holidays in a weak attempt to take a break (I've not taken a vacation in years, so this had to make do). I truly don't know what to do and the process is heartbreaking.

There is the choice of letting the disease run its course, and when the time is eminent and/or she seems to be in pain, put her to sleep. The other choice is to make the commitment to manage her disease until she passes away on her own either due to diabetic complications or just simply growing old. Right now, it doesn't seem that I have to make an immediate decision, but I do need to contemplate the right choice for this situation as one will be needed in the near future.

The pain of life and death ... I hope that I am never in this place with another pet or person again, but I think this is the first of many such crossroads in life.


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