Monday, May 27, 2013


Last Monday was the day I had fruitlessly hoped would never arrive. My dear Peeps succumbed to renal failure shortly after her 18th birthday on the 18th anniversary of her adoption, I believe. Her decline was very fast--over the past few weeks, she appeared to be losing a lot of weight and was spending less time with us and more time asleep in a corner of the bathroom or behind a chair. There were no obvious signs of ill health until late last week when she suddenly appeared to have lost about half her body weight and had very watery eyes. Over three days, her body seemed to fail her, until she could no longer stand for very long and fell over when she attempted to walk. I could not leave my darling girl in that condition to suffer. Fortunately, we had a very kind vet who does home visits so she came by last Monday to see if anything could be done. While Evan had some hopes that something could be done to improve her condition, I was just surprised that she was strong enough to survive through the night. Unfortunately, the vet agreed with my fears and found that one of her kidneys had almost disappeared and the other one was huge. Even if we had caught it earlier (which would have been quite difficult), very little, if anything, could have been done. Kidney failure is a common cause of death among older cats and some key symptoms include thirst. Peeps was always a good drinker, however, and loved water more than food from her kittenhood, a good quality in terms of health, but not in terms of diagnosing kidney failure.

I feel so bad that I couldn't do more for her and that I was distracted during her last months dealing with pregnancy, renovations, the move, childbirth and the early sleepless days of parenthood. I know she needed me more than ever but I barely had any time to give and had hoped to have some quality kitty time with her later. I also feel bad that I misread physical symptoms as emotional reactions to the inevitable distractions we encountered over the last year. She had appeared to have neglected her beautiful long fur coat last summer while I was at home, which was the kind of thing she would do to show that she was upset, but the tangles never really went away and became far worse this winter and spring. Matted fur is a sign of kidney failure. She also changed her eating habits, moving away from hard to soft food, which again in retrospect was a sign of kidney failure. Looking at photos of her a year ago also reveals just how much she had declined--but it's difficult to see such change on a day to day basis. Only in the last week was it evident that she had just wasted away to nothing.

Evidently she was not in much pain. Kidney failure makes humans and animals (as far as we know) feel weak and mildly unwell which might account for Peeps' seeming surprise at not being able to walk far or reach her litterbox in the last hours of her life. But I feel guilt and pain that I missed the signs and couldn't help her. I really hoped she would live into her 20s and that Severin would get to know and love her, pick her up and stroke her fur. He did get to know her and while she was the most jealous of the three cats (she was a tortie after all), she was also the most interested in him and the most gentle towards him.

I cannot believe she has gone--I still see her around the apartment. I could not be there for her final minutes so Evan held and stroked her. I didn't have the courage to see her go and want to hold on to the illusion that she is still around. I think the truth will hit when her ashes come home. She was the best and most loving friend anybody could ever have and I just hope we will meet up again one day. Rest in peace, my dear little girl and thank you for all your love. I will love you forever.


joyce said...

I'm so sorry, Moya.

Marti said...

Moya, I am so sorry for your loss. My tortie Fred had a renal condition that she succumbed to as well. It comes on so fast and there is so little you can do. I feel your pain. I am thinking of you and gorgeous peeps. Hopefully she is in a better place. She was lucky to be so loved by you three.

Brittan said...

I am in tears reading this. I understand what it's like to love your furbaby so much. How tragic that we have to outlive them by so long. Not catching the kidney problems was in no way your fault. As you said, it's very common and very difficult to do anything about in old age. Peeps will forever be remembered and loved. I hope you are able to find some peace. <3

erica said...

I was so sad to hear about Peeps' passing. It's hard not thinking about what could have been done, especially with the haze of pregnancy and post-partum busy-ness, but it is clear that Peeps was well-loved and cared for.

Thanks for writing about the signs of kidney failure. My kitties are only 8 and 9, but this is a good reminder that I need to be more careful. Life is full of so many distractions these days, sometimes I have nightmares about forgetting to feed them. It seems I have become even more guilt-prone since I had children!

Christopher Androlia said...


I am so sorry for your loss. My little guy Charlie also passed from this. I am sure they are on the other side of the rainbow bridge watching Meet Me in St Louis together purring along to the trolley song. I will miss the peeps happy paws! Such a beautiful girl!

Hugs...Chris, Shawna, Rexford and Grady

jennifer said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Moya. Peeps seemed like such a sweet kitty. As difficult as it is to lose a beloved pet, take comfort in knowing that you provided a loving home for her for so many years.


Moya said...

Thank you so much, Joyce, Marti, Brittan, Erica, Chris and Jennifer. I miss her so and hate that she is alone right now. While I know it will be very hard to see then, her ashes haven't come home yet and this is the longest we've been apart and in the same city. I am looking at cat urns and thinking of a way to create a lovely shrine to my little girl. Marti, I am so sorry your dear Fred went the same way, and, Chris, I'd forgotten you lost Charlie to renal failure too.

Erica, Evan wants us to try to alert people to the signs of kidney failure in Peeps'' memory. There is a baseline kidney function test you can get for older cats--after they turn 12 or so-and we will do it for Blue and Remy. It is so easy to be distracted when you have young children--I hate that I'd said "not now" to Peeps so many times in the last few months because I was simultaneously trying to breast feed Severin and work, or calm a crying infant. It's a juggling game that you cannot win but had I known, I would have tried even harder to give her the attention she always needed and cherished.

Thank you again for all your kind words.