April 11, 2022

An Update on Phoebe

I was fully prepared to name this post "The One Where Phoebe Crossed the Rainbow Bridge". It was a rough weekend with her. (If you missed it, she was diagnosed with kidney disease last week and was not doing well.)

We went to the vet on Friday (why do these things always happen on Fridays when the vet will be closed for the weekend?). Phoebe got an injection of an anti-nausea medication and I brought home pills to give her once a day for nausea. It was actually just one pill and I had to cut it into four pieces--that's how skinny Phoebe is. The vet said that it would bring her appetite back; at that point, it had been three days since she'd eaten.

I also brought home saline in an IV bag to inject under her skin every day (it hydrates her) so I've been doing that each morning.

Still, Phoebe refused to eat. She wouldn't even look at food. I've offered her a whole smorgasbord of different foods--wet, dry, chicken, tuna, gravy, crunchy treats, soft treats--and she did not take one single bite or lick of anything. She looked worse Saturday and then yesterday. I hate to even post this picture because she looks so bad, but I'm not exaggerating about how skinny she is. She feels like a skeleton with fur.

Yesterday, I decided that I was going to call the vet in the morning (today) to ask if I could bring her in to have her euthanized. She is super skinny and lethargic, with very unkempt greasy fur and sunken-in eyes, and she's extremely frail. I made a little nest for her in my bedroom and kept the other cats out. I felt like euthanasia was the best thing for her; she was wasting away. She hated the saline treatment, taking her pill, and she wanted nothing to do with food. She just seemed totally miserable.

I was determined to make her last day (yesterday) as good as I could for her, even though there wasn't much I could do. I turned on the electric blanket for her while I sat and brushed her; she liked that. She has always liked my Burt's Bees lip balm--she loves anything peppermint-scented. I swear she can smell it through the whole house and she used to come running when I put it on. When I was sitting with her yesterday, I put some on to see if she would react--and she perked right up. She started sniffing it and trying to lick it off my lips.

Phoebe has also always LOVED going outside. We used to let her in and out as she pleased, but one time she was gone for four days and it turned out she had gotten locked in our neighbors' shed. After that, I kept her indoors. We also have coyotes and foxes and eagles and other predatory animals in the marsh/woods across the street, so it's safer for all the pets to stay inside.

Phoebe still snuck out every single chance she got. She was so good at it! And when you go after her, she just runs away, only coming home when she's ready.

Anyway, I decided to take her outside and let her enjoy the grass and sunshine. I took her out a couple of times and she seemed so happy to be out there. That was probably the happiest I'd seen her in months. Still, though, I felt at peace with our decision to bring her to the vet today. The whole family did.

And then.

This morning, I got up and opened up some canned food (I still give all the pets wet food in the mornings). I'd been offering it to Phoebe all weekend long even though she completely ignored it. This morning, though, when I set the plate down in front of her, she sniffed it a little. Then she started licking the gravy! I was shocked. After 5+ days without any food at all, she showed some interest this morning.

She only had a tiny amount--maybe a teaspoon--but it was enough to make me question our decision. Since she seemed to have perked up after taking her outside, I decided to give her some more time to see how it goes. I'm not in denial; I am fully prepared to let her go when it's time. I want to make sure I do it before things get really bad (her organs shutting down because of not eating). But the fact that she showed a little interest in food today made me wonder if we should wait.

I remember a vet telling me one time, "It's better to do it a week too soon than an hour too late." And that stuck with me. 

Today, though, she actually seems slightly better than yesterday. She hasn't eaten anything since the few licks this morning, so I have no idea if she'll start eating again. She went to the back door today and started meowing to go outside (that was the first I'd heard a peep from her in over a week). I brought her out there and rather than just staying in one spot, she started walking around the yard. I wasn't worried about her darting off because she has barely walked in days.

After about 20 minutes, she actually did break into a run! I chased after her, praying she wouldn't run into the woods. But she just ran along the sidewalk in front of the house and up onto the front stoop. I brought her inside, really surprised that she'd actually run from the backyard to the front of the house.

She began pacing around the house and she did that all afternoon (that's actually her usual behavior). Right now, she's sleeping inside of the little "bubble hut" I made (I have no idea what to call this thing).

Remember I started working on it and then I set it aside for a long time? Well, I worked on it some more last week and I added a little plastic bubble (when hanging on the wall, the bubble will be in the front). It still needs sanding and finish, but I knew Phoebe would like it so I put a little cat bed in there for her. It's her favorite spot to sleep right now.

As of what's going to happen tomorrow, I have no idea. I'm going to continue to try to get her to eat, but I'm also watching her closely for signs that it's time to take her into the vet one last time. I cried so much and so hard yesterday because I was sure it was the last day I'd spend with her. And now I just don't know. I let the vet know what was going on, though.

It honestly wouldn't surprise me if she turns around from this. The kidney disease can't be cured, but cats can live a long time with it if it's treated with a kidney-friendly diet. Since Phoebe has never been food-motivated, I didn't have much hope for that. I have a hard time getting her to eat when she's NOT sick! However, she's been through some really tough situations in her life and somehow she's always bounced back.

I feel prepared to handle it either way. I would love it if she sticks around for a while, but I'm not going to let her live miserably at her age (she's 15). So, I'm just following her lead!


  1. Sending all the love while you continue to do what's best for your Phoebe <3 You will know when it's time. She will let you know. Sending hugs.

  2. I'm so sorry Katie. I have no words, only tears. Virtual hug to you. Kiss Phoebe for me.

  3. Hugs, Katie. I lost my beloved orange female, Dena, to kidney disease a few years ago, it was so sad. It sounds like you're doing everything you can to keep Phoebe comfortable and pain-free. It's really nice to see her getting to enjoy the sunshine and grass.

  4. Katie, can your vet prescribe you Mirataz? It's an ointment you rub into their ear and it stimulates their appetite. My cat has kidney disease also, and her appetite waxes and wanes. The Mirataz helps a lot.

    Hang in there, I know it's tough.

  5. I had almost the exact experience with my sweet boy a year ago. One day, he wouldn't move, he'd lost down to about 8 pounds (from 15), wouldn't eat or use the litter box...I'd made the appointment, and next thing I knew, he was running around the house. When it's time, you'll know. That nine lives thing is real--so maybe she's just giving you time to know how happy all of hers have been. Hugs to all of you.

  6. Sending much love towards you and Phoebe! She will let you know when its time <3 I'm so happy she is enjoying her time outside and enjoying life at the moment! It is such an unbelievably hard thing to let go of our fur babies. They are family members! Sending all the virtual hugs!

  7. I am sorry you guys are going through this. Phoebe is so lucky to have you all. My Lucas is about to hit 16 in July and also has kidney issues but the food seems to be helping. I just hope I am able to be in the same mindset as you are when it is his time. I will keep that week too early over an hour too late in my head. Sending hugs.

  8. Sending good thoughts your way!

  9. She looks so happy outside. So sweet! Sending hugs to you and your family.

  10. Not me over here bawling at the photo of the Chapstick kiss. Oh my heavens. How sweet and utterly devastating at the same time!! My heart goes to you all!

  11. You are the best cat parent ever. Sending more hugs. The bubble thing is perfect for her and how great that it was ready for her to enjoy outside.

  12. This is such a tough situation, Katie. We recently had a very similar situation with one of our cats. He's 14 years old and had what turned out to be a liver infection. He just stopped eating. We took him to the vet hospital (where he stayed overnight) and they said he was eating, so we brought him home. We just could NOT get him to eat. We bought everything that anyone suggested. Finally he went for some dry food (he had been eating wet food for years and years). I am not sure if it's the specific food that made him want to eat, or if the meds and some time for them to take effect was what really turned it around. We're now a couple months out from that, and he's doing fine. I hope Phoebe will get through this, too, and give you more years of love.

  13. I hope Phoebe is feeling better. I had a male orange cat that passed at around 17. He was never diagnosed with kidney disease but he did have some kind of surgery at around 3 that may have been kidney/liver related, it was over 25 or so years ago. It is so sad to see them half their weight, mine went from 12 lbs to 6 and it was really shocking. I now have a 14 almost 15 year old tortie that has kidney disease. She was diagnosed about 2 years ago during early covid days and that day at the ER vet was scary, she had a UTI that showed the kidney disease and luckily she wasn't a picky eat as she eats the special food. She is monitored every 6 months and I have no idea at every visit if she is good or not until all the tests come back.


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