Unfortunately, our cat Leo passed away this weekend. Although I never mentioned much of the health problems he faced, since we got him in March, he constantly baffled us with his behavior and multiple vet trips never told us much.
We rescued him from living in the streets, but I think he liked being outdoors more than in. At first, he meowed constantly and within the first week or so of having him, we noticed he was limping. We got him x-rayed at the vet, but everything looked normal.
Then we decided to switch to a new vet office that opened up just a few minutes’ walk from our house. I was able to take him frequently, but they could never tell me much either. Leo played and jumped around for the first few weeks or so, but he slowly became less and less active.
He seemed to like having Penny around, but the worse his condition got, the more aggravated with her attempts to play became. He threw up his food or didn’t eat, and this continued for months. He got thinner and thinner, and his limping got worse. We finally got him some pain medication for nerve damage, which is what the vet said was causing the limp. But then the medicine made him throw up more, and once I took him off it, his arm swelled up.
Once again, we took him to the vet and the doctor was stumped. He gave us another kind of medicine – a blood thinner – to see if a clot was what caused the swelling. The medicine didn’t help much and he started peeing outside of the litter box. The vet thought it was caused by stress (i.e. our kitten Penny) but it’s clear now that it was probably more out of pain in his leg that he didn’t go in and out of the litter box often.
I went to Japan recently, and my husband took care of him for a week while I was away. He noticed that he was lethargic and had to furtively check if he was still breathing most days. When I returned from my trip, I came home and noticed how incredibly thin he was. He was also breathing heavily.
In a panic, I took him to the vet, but I got there just as they were closing, and the receptionist (not the usual one, who knows me) got annoyed that I was coming in after hours. I was crying by this point, sure that if he didn’t see the vet right away, he wouldn’t make it through the weekend. I wanted answers.
The vet was nice enough to see me and immediately took an x-ray and showed me what the problem was. He also called my husband and explained everything to him. Leo had pleural effusion, which is when fluid builds up in the body around the organs, and it was causing him to breathe rapidly and eat less.
To remove the fluid, a procedure would have been necessary, but the vet told us that even if we had it done, his chances of making it through the surgery were slim. Also, he told us that this was a symptom of a serious disease (either heart disease, kidney disease, etc.) and recommended that we just let Leo get some fresh air and relax. He was sure that he wouldn’t make it more than three days.
Thankfully, we were able to take Leo to the countryside where my mother-in-law’s boyfriend has a farm. They gave him water and food everyday and checked up on him for us. Neither me nor my husband had the heart to see him dead, and we decided that he’d have more freedom that way.
He survived a good week and a half or so, but finally passed away this weekend. While we are sad about the whole situation, both of us had prepared for his passing for a few weeks before it happened, and we still have pretty Penny to play with and love.
In America, I had two cats (both from the same litter) and neither of them had any health problems whatsoever. We only took them to the vet for their spay/neuter surgery, and they were indoor/outdoor cats, so they ran around in the neighborhood all day before coming in to sleep.
However, here in Korea, my husband and I have had three cats, and out of them, only Penny has stayed healthy. She was in bad shape when we got her (sneezing, runny nose, parasites, fungal disease, etc.) but I nursed her back to full health.
Penny makes us smile every day, and now my husband and I can enjoy our time with her without constantly worrying and fretting. Having a sick pet is stressful, and for a long time, it was all we talked about. Now that Leo is in a better place, I’m hoping my husband can learn to know the joys of having a pet rather than only the difficulties.
Leo was a sweetheart and I will always miss the way he sat in my lap as I read books, how he learned to do tricks, and how he loved to let me pet him all over. He was our first kitty, and we will always remember him and how good he was to Penny when she first arrived.
I hope those of you who have pets (or kids, for that matter) have healthy ones, because I know how stressful it can be otherwise. Thank you all for letting me share Leo’s life with you – I’m sure he knew that he was loved by many people, all across the world.