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Norwich Bulletin - 8/5/2007

The Right Time to Say Goodbye

When is the right time to say goodbye to a beloved pet? How do we know when we have stopped doing whatís best for our animalís needs and started doing whatís best for our own? Sometimes, it is so incredibly difficult to find that thin line, especially when it has to do with one of our favorites.

Yes, everyone has favorites. My husband and I love all of our animals, but some are more endearing than others. We have our special cats that our whole family agrees must live forever because we canít bear the thought of them leaving us.

First and on the top of the list is our blue eyed white cat, Milo. The perfect cat since he was ten days old and came into our lives. In the last eleven years Milo has been on television, starred in Bell, Book and Candle, traveled to countless schools to teach kids about cat care and worked as a therapy cat at retirement homes.

Milo has been best the national Best Household Pet during his show career, and throughout his life he has been the most gentle of all creatures. He has never treated any of the other animals aggressively and has always accepted the newcomers with grace and friendship. He has always been strong and healthy.

Back in June, Milo started scratching at his ears and shaking his head. We immediately thought that he must have gotten some ear mites while out in the kitty courtyard, or perhaps had a slight ear infection so we began giving him Baytril and treating his ears. A week later, they were worse, all red and hot with red lines coming down his face.

The vet confirmed a severe ear infection and changed his medication to an antibiotic for his ear and gave him a steroid shot to keep him from scratching his ears. A week later he was worse and he had scabs on his face from where we assumed he had been scratching. So he went in to the vet to have his ears cleaned out and his face shaved so they could treat his skin. Only it didnít stop there.

Milo continued to lose his hair and having skin eruptions all over his face and neck. We did scrapings, changed medications again and started injectable steroids every day. And every day, he would get worse. He started losing hair on his legs, his stomache and little by little, all over his body. He no longer looked like Milo, and he no longer felt good.

But Milo continued to purr and give everyone loving, whether he was home or at the vet. In fact, his vet family could not believe what a wonderful personality on our cat, especially considering what he had to be going through.

Our next step was finding a specialist. This is no easy feat in our area. You would think that you could find a Dermatologist and, considering it was such an emergency, actually getting an appointment within a week or so. Well, the two specialists in our area informed us that it would be two months for one and four weeks for the other.

They would not budge on the appointment, no matter how much we begged them. Even our vet could not get them to fit us in earlier. They didnít care that Milo would continue to suffer while we waited. They did, however, send us a long application to fill out which mostly asked for financial information and how we were going to insure payment.

I went on a quest and ended up at Tufts. Their Veterinary Emergency Treatment and Specialists gave us an appointment within a week. We were lucky enough to get Dr. Ackerman who had a few ideas on what was causing Miloís disease. Unfortunately, it was going to take a deep biopsy and two weeks to confirm, and the condition was fairly rare in cats so he wanted to be sure before he started treatment.

We have to keep Milo comfortable and maintain him until the diagnoses can be confirmed so he doesnít get medications that would hurt, rather than help him. And of course, there are no guarantees.

And so we wait. My beautiful cat no longer looks beautiful on the outside, and he is in pain. He cries when I pet him. He is being maintained on pain medication, soothing baths and some steroids until the biopsy comes back. When he looks at me, my heart breaks. Am I doing this for Milo or for myself, because I cannot stand the thought of him not being with us anymore? How do I explain to him that I am waiting for a test to come back to see if I can save his life?

I tell him every day that I want to give him every chance to stay with us. I tell him and myself that it is only a few more days and we will know. I would do anything for Milo and soon I will be put to that test. I hope I can pass, for his sake.

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