Tyrrell's Tidbits: Hurricanes and our pets

Heather Tyrrell

Fortunately our house has held up well during two hurricanes now, Irene and Sandy. We haven’t had to deal with flooding or leaks.

Now take our pets into consideration with hurricanes and you can say we aren’t so lucky. Right before Hurricane Irene passed through the area in 2011, our Roborovski hamster Henrietta started to get sick and she passed away the night we had a tornado warning.

Just recently, my cat, Lily, started to eat less and less. When Lily was a young cat, she was diagnosed with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (known as FIV) during her first vet visit in 2007. At that time, the vet told me that cats with FIV may be able to live just a few years and some even make it to 10 or 13.

Although I was upset at the time, I was hopeful that Lily would enjoy her life and see her twilight years.

Throughout the past two or three months, Lily had gotten sick twice with a “cold” or infection resulting in two vet visits. At one visit, the vet said that she either had an infection that was affecting her lymph nodes or she had cancer. Lily had a lump on her belly. We could have gone through tests or X-rays to confirm it was cancer, but I didn’t want to spend the money or go through the heartbreak. I took the option of giving the cat antibiotics and thought if those didn’t work, then we may be heading down that sad road I wanted to avoid.

The lump disappeared and Lily had her appetite back. Again I was hopeful she would stay healthy. Then we encountered a repeat: she would drink her water, but wouldn’t eat a thing. She was losing weight fast and I was faced with a painful decision: do we go with antibiotics or should she be put down? This time her sickness was different. It was like she was a skeleton of herself and when she walked, it was a slow walk. I knew antibiotics were not going to be the solution.

After many thoughts and tears, I was on my way to the vet’s with Lily knowing that this would be our last car ride. (Fortunately we were able to get an appointment before the mess of the hurricane hit.) At the vet’s office, workers gave their condolences. I waited with Lily in an examination room until the vet arrived. While we were waiting, she didn’t look scared like her usual visits. A few times she purred and laid down. It was if she knew she was at a place that could help her and she was at peace. When the vet came to the room, I petted her, gave her a hug and said, “I love you.” I didn’t want to stay for what would happen next.

I miss Lily dearly. When I go into her room she hung out in, I feel the sadness grow since she’s not there and I know in a few days we will be getting rid of her belongings so it will be even more empty.

I know my loss of a pet doesn’t compare to the loss of a person and those who have lost family in the hurricane are in my thoughts.

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