Header Image (book)


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Goodbye, Dusti

Dusti, named Cinderella by the rescue group who found her in a litter of kittens in an alley in D.C., turned 15 years old on May 5. The photo, which I call "Dusti Greets the December sunrise," was taken when she was quite young.

Today, the vet found a tumor in Dusti's left kidney.  This mass (not present two weeks ago), in combination with my beloved Dusti's recent dramatic weight loss (over 2.5 pounds since March to the point of emaciation) and a decline in general health over this summer, are almost always indicative cancer. 

She is the first pet that we've ever lost to cancer.

Rather than subject Dusti to torturous procedures and the inevitable metastasis that rapidly follows no matter what, Mr. AOW and I opted for euthanasia, which the home-care vet did here in our living room.

Dusti will be cremated today, and the ashes returned to us.

I will miss Dusti so much!  I will miss her trademark chirps and trademark tuck-and-rolls. Also, she was the only cat I ever had to talk with her tail.  And I do mean talk!  That tail of hers was so expressive.


  1. I'm very sorry for your loss, Mr. & Mrs. AOW.

  2. Hi AOW.
    I understand your loss, my dog (17.5 years) died two months ago and before him i had a cat 14 years it also died of kidney probs.
    I saved it from the litter ofter his mom threw him out of the litter due to his big seize he was nearly double the seize as the other kittens.
    So i had to bottle feed him, loosing him was awfull for me.
    I'll never have a friend like him.

  3. I too am sorry. People without pets cannot understand how they really become part of the family.

    She's had a long life (did you mean 2007?). Was she the one who killed the rat and brought it to you?

  4. I'm sorry AOW.

    I know what it's like to lose a long time pet.

  5. AOW,

    So sorry to hear of Dusti's passing. I too lost a female cat, Rita, to breast cancer in January 2008. She was possibly my favorite pet of all time. She loved me. I loved her. I still grieve for her. She was 14 when we took that last drive together to the vet.

    I love cats and dogs! They bring so much love and interest to our lives. I will never be without one of each.

  6. Mysti, age 13 as of June, is the one who killed the snake -- not a rat.

    Dusti was a tracker, not a hunter. She'd point out the prey but wouldn't get her mouth and paws dirty. A real lady cat!

  7. I wish that I had more pictures of Dusti. Alas! The was camera shy. A real nervous Nellie. Except with me.

    She was in my arms when the vet gave her the shot and felt totally secure. No fear.

    Euthanasia in the home is the best way, IMO, particularly for cats, who typically hate to ride in the car.

  8. Silverfiddle,
    Thanks for alerting me to that error with the date. I corrected the text of the blog post.

    Dusti was born on May 5, 1997. We got her later that summer.

  9. Sorry to hear about your loss. We had to have our 16 year old dachshund euthanized last month. He was an old little guy, and I miss him. I will not get another pet because when you lose a pet, it is like losing part of your family.

  10. Sorry to hear this . Been there myself with my Cat,y prayers are with. Dusti
    God Bless

  11. I'm so very sorry, AOW! My sympathies; losing a beloved, long term pet is soooo hard!

    At least with the euthanasia, Dusti did not have to suffer extensively. I truly believe that you and the Mr. will meet up with Dusti in the hereafter.

    We had to have Jessi, our Sheltie/Beagle mix of 14 years put down a while back, She suddenly became unresponsive one morning and when she came to her gums were white and she screamed.

    The vet said he could've done a necropsy, but he was certain it was cancer and she masked the symptoms.

    Our Dane, Fortune, is 8 1/2; quite long lived for a giant breed. Whenever the time comes, we will look into a home visiting vet. I'd not have considered/known about it if not for your posts about the cats.

    Again, hugs and love.

  12. Oh that is horrendous! I've lost cats before that way- it truly is heartbreaking. At least she died in peace though. My prayers go out to you and Mr. AOW.


  13. Wildstar,
    Thank you for you sympathy.

    One factor that made this particularly difficult: Dusti wasn't suffering yet. In fact, she was quite perky -- her old self for a few minutes at a time.

    But the suffering was soon to come -- in a matter of just a few days. I wasn't willing to wait until she was miserable.

    Dusti was scheduled for blood work today, but I was very concerned because she had begun "hiding" the past couple of days -- always a bad sign with a cat.

  14. Oh AOW, I am truly sorry for your loss, I know your pain. When my Shadowbear died, I cried and cried, and then even cut some of his fur and kept it, before we buried him.

    I wish I would have cremated my baby. But I at least I still have a part him.

    Pets aren't pets, they are family.

  15. What a shock, AOW! Here we've been chatting away the past few days as though nothing special were going on, and all the while poor Dusti was coping with cancer in that quiet undemonstrative way kitty cats have. They seem never to want us to know they're having problems.

    I'm so sorry you had to go through this right now in what had already been an unusually challenging summer.

    I surely know how bad it feels to lose one of our animal friends. They add so much joy, humor and affection to life. I think they're very important. We're not supposed to believe they have souls, but I am positive they do.

    I am still sad over the sudden death of Little Devil, the parrot who became part of my life by accident and remained for twenty years. I never thought I wanted to have a bird, but after a while I realized almost in spite of myself that Little Devil and I had developed a relationship. There was a genuine bond between us, and it grew stronger with time. The little fellow needed me, and that alone made me love him.

    It's been the same with Old Samson the big gray and white tomcat I inherited from my aunt, who died at age 97 nine years ago.

    Samson was a pisser, but even so I couldn't bear to let him be taken away by Animal Control after my aunt died. It would have been like giving away a child for the sake of convenience.

    So, we took Samson home with us, and confined him to one bedroom wing and the big screened porch, and I spent eight years on my hands and knees spraying then rubbing in Hot Shot, scrubbing out pee stains, and putting down Carpet Fresh, until the sad day I found the old boy immobile in the middle of the bed soaked in his own pee and crying piteously.

    I scooped him up, and took him to the vet, who told me his kidneys and his liver were shot, and there was no hope of recovery. He was probably eighteen or nineteen years old, so it was time. That was a year ago last December, but I still miss him. He had such a sweet calm disposition it was like having a nice old uncle in the house.

    And so it goes ...

    My heart goes out to you and your husband, AOW. I know he loves the animals too.

    ~ FT

  16. Rainbow Bridge

    Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

    When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
    There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
    There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

    All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
    The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

    They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

    You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

    Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

    Author unknown...

  17. I found the "Rainbow Bridge" at this site, which has more links at the bottom of the page.

  18. Oh how much your heart can ache over these beloved pets. We love ours a couple years ago and I'm still amazed at how often I expect to see him NOT greet me at the door. I'm so sorry for your loss.

  19. My condolence for your loss. 22 years have passed since I lost Tanya (a Samoyed dog) and I still think of her each and every day.

  20. Sorry to hear of your loss AOW. Peace be to you.

  21. Not much sleep here in the AOW household.

    Cameo is obviously grieving, Mysti not so much.

  22. FT,
    Yesterday was indeed a shock. Mr. AOW and I were shocked. The vet was shocked as well.

    Two weeks ago, I had discussed final arrangements with the vet. She said, "We're not there yet." At that point, there was zero sign of any kind of kidney tumor. Yesterday, one could easily feel the enlarged kidney; the scans (at no charge, BTW) were done only to confirm.

    Of course, two weeks for a small pet is a much longer period of time in human years.

    I hated to let Dusti go! She was alert and affectionate -- nothing like other cats in years past when I made the decision during a crisis of suffering on the part of the pet. I loved Dusti enough to let her go before "the bad thing happened."

    In my gut on Monday, I KNEW that she was in serious trouble. But I was thinking, "We just need an adjustment of her thyroid medication."

    I'm in a state of misery right now.

  23. AOW - I'm so sorry to hear about your precious Dusti. I love the Rainbow Bridge and absolutely believe our fur people will be with us in the afterlife. I've had many discussions with my pastor about this subject and he thinks there is no reason not to believe they will be with us. He also believes that animals have souls, but just not exactly like our souls.

    Erica also sends soft meows and Frankie a woof...

  24. Adrienne,
    We're miserable right now, of course.

    Heaven wouldn't be heaven for me without my beloved pets.

  25. I'm so sorry AOW, there really aren't any words... I miss my two kitties still and it's almost 10 years since I lost my soulmate cat Marcello and about 7 years since I lost his sis Musetta.
    I have never 'replaced' them...she was 20 when she died and like family. I can't buy another family.
    All the best.

  26. Z,
    There are no words. It's tough.

    One can never replace a pet.

    But we like to take in others to give those a chance at life.

    A few weeks ago, we were offered Amber (We named her after seeing photos), a half-grown kitten about 6 months old. However, we couldn't arrange delivery: the kitten is in West Virginia in foster care right now and should be getting spayed this week. If she is still available, I may drive to West Virginia to get Amber!

    We like to have three cats because when one passes, there are still two for companionship. Right now, we have two: Cameo and Mysti. Both are seniors and in good health -- at the moment. Cameo is grieving, and a new companion might perk her up.

  27. It's going to take time, sweetie, but you will get through this, I promise.

    It's going to be long tough and painful road.

    I am so sorry, truly I am.

  28. So sorry to hear. We lost a cat to cancer 5 years ago.


We welcome civil dialogue at Always on Watch. Comments that include any of the following are subject to deletion:
1. Any use of profanity or abusive language
2. Off topic comments and spam
3. Use of personal invective

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.