I lost my best friend

On the 12th of July at 3pm, my beautiful little Winry was put to sleep. To say the past few days have been difficult would be a tremendous understatement, I have been in bits. I haven't been sleeping right, eating has been weird - I either eat everything or nothing. I can't look at any of her toys without breaking down, and she had a lot of toys. Her food bowl and litter tray are both still lying out because I can't bring myself to put them away. Her treats are still lying on the table, half torn open because she quickly figured out that she could get into them herself by clawing at the plastic and poking her mouth through the gaps.

A few days before we lost her, she was breathing funny. Sort of strained and heavy. Usually you can't tell when a cat is breathing as the movement in them is very subtle, they don't take great big breaths. Just sort of little calm ones. She was acting different, too. Not as playful, only walking a few steps before lying down again, a complete lack of energy. We decided to make her an appointment with the vets to be examined, just to be sure. We thought that maybe she had eaten something funny or maybe had a funny stomach. Her appointment was on Sunday the 10th at 11am.

We had to take her to the emergency vets on the Saturday night before it. We were there for hours.

It turned out that it wasn't something simple. It turned out that they didn't know what it was. She had fluid in her chest. Pleural effusion, it's called. Basically, the lining around the outside of her lungs were filling up with fluid and puss and squashing her little lungs and making it very difficult to breathe. Think of it like wearing something really tight around your ribs, and every time you try to take a deep breath you can't, because there's no room, so you have to take short sharp breaths. Even trying to do that now, taking short sharp breaths, is uncomfortable after a few seconds. I couldn't imagine she was going through that for a few hours.

They quickly sedated her and drained the fluid from her using needles through her ribs. They managed to drain 170ml of fluid from her. That's half the contents of a can of coke from a very small cat. When they told us what this meant, I broke down in tears. I knew there and then she was dying. Craig was more optimistic that she would pull through however, the pessimist that I am, I knew better. As much as I wanted to believe that she would get better, I knew she would never recover.

The morning after she was like a different cat. She was happy and chirpy, running around and playing, wanting all the cuddles in the world and generally being like her old self. My mind started to wonder if she was going to get better, for a brief moment I did think she would survive. I should have known better. A few hours after we had taken her to the vets for her appointment. They had to drain the fluid again. Another 170ml.

She was taken for x-rays and bloods and examined thoroughly. They couldn't find anything. No signs of stress, no injury, no lumps or masses, no cancer, no swollen bits, nothing. Literally nothing. No explanation as to why this was happening to her. That's what was so frustrating, we couldn't save her because we didn't know what was causing it. If it was something that they could have pinpointed like cancer, then this would have been easier to deal with, because we'd have something to blame. But we don't. There was no reason this was happening, it was just happening.

The vets at this point suggested two things. We could either have a permanent chest drain placed in her for the next month, which would require almost constant sedation and hourly drainings which is a very stressful and long process for her and at the end of it might not save her life. Or we could have her put to sleep.

We talked about it for hours, going through the pros and cons of both sides, and ultimately decided that given everything she'd been through in the last few days, that putting her through another month of treatment for something that might not save her wasn't fair. We spent the night with her, cuddling her and watching her sleep. We let her eat whatever she wanted, which was mainly treats and gravy from little cat food pouches, you know, the little fancy ones. She never liked the meat in them, only the gravy. She was a little weirdo. She fell asleep curled up in my legs for a while, using me as a pillow with my arms holding her up, she had very little strength in the end. She mostly slept the whole night, which was hard to watch, given that we could see how strained her breathing was.

The vet and nurse arrived the following day, with her box and blankets that smelled like chemicals and impending sadness. Winry was a lot more at ease with them given that she wasn't in the vets room this time, she was at home. They laid out the blankets and the towels and injected her with a muscle relaxant. It was at this point that we said our final goodbyes, I held her for a few minutes, just breathing her in and holding her close to me. She put her little face on my chest and buried her head away, I knew she was scared.

Craig held her afterwards, and held her while they put her to sleep. I spoke softly to her while she was going and cradled her head in my hands. It took only seconds.

She was gone.

She was placed on the blanket and looked like she was simply sleeping. Peacefully.
No more strained breathing, no more shortness of breath, no more pain.

Making that decision was one of the hardest things I've ever had to go through. I know it was the right decision, but it doesn't make living with it any easier. We wrapped her up in the blanket and held her for a while before putting her down in her bed. Craig's mum arrived shortly afterwards and we drove through to her house with Winry between us in the car. We decided to bury her in the garden. We kept her wrapped her in the blanket and put her favourite toy in beside her as well, a tiny little furry hedgehog that she loved.

She was buried soon after we arrived and a small tree was planted on top. We also used some little white stones to spell out the letter W next to the tree. I'm still having a hard time knowing that she's been buried and my beautiful little cat is under all that soil, but I'm trying to think of it as a good thing, knowing we can visit her and talk to her still.

This week has been one of the worst weeks I've ever been through and I don't wish this on anyone. People have their pets put to sleep every day, and I pity them too, it truly is one of the worst things I've ever faced.

I'll never forget you, Winry. You truly were my best friend.
I love and miss you so much.
25/01/2011 - 12/07/2016

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