Today marks the third anniversary of the day I had to let Amber go. She died after a sudden, brief illness, most likely a virulent strain of the calici virus, complicated by an underlying heart condition we weren’t aware of at the time.
It was the first time I had lost a cat so suddenly. The cats that went before her had long illnesses – Feebee had lymphoma, Buckley had heart disease – so I not only had time to prepare myself for their eventual passing, I also didn’t have to make medical decisions under pressure. Thankfully, my years of experience in veterinary medicine made the decision making process somewhat easier for me than it might have been for the average cat parent, but it was still incredibly challenging to separate out my emotions and my fear of losing Amber, and to make the best possible decisions for her care.
Caregiver Crisis Planning
If you have an older cat or a cat with special needs, you will probably be facing a health crisis at some point during her life. But even if you have a young, healthy cat, it can’t hurt to be prepared.
Certified thanatologist and founder of New England Pet Hospice, Heather Merrill, and bio-ethicist Viki Kind have developed a Caregiver Crisis Planning Guide to help pet parents navigate through difficult times.
The guide includes:
- A worksheet to develop your own crisis action plan
- Checklists for what you need to find out to make decisions
- Checklists for what you may need to do in a crisis situation
- An assesment of your crisis management style
- A list of medical questions you may need to ask in a crisis
Click on the link below to download the free guide
Caregiver Crisis Planning Guide
I think if I had had this guide three years ago, I might have made my decisions for Amber’s care a little more gracefully, and with a little less desperation. I hope you’ll never need to use this guide, but I highly recommend that you read it when you’re not facing a crisis. You may also want to read Viki Kind’s book The Caregiver’s Path to Compassionate Decision Making: Making Choices for Those Who Can’t. Even though it’s written for humans, much of it will also apply to caring for feline patients, especially since the human hospice and palliative care field is much more developed than the veterinary equivalent.
For more information about New England Pet Hospice, please visit their website or Facebook page.
Making Medical Decisions For Your Cat
Euthanasia: The Loneliest Decision