Goodbye, Artemis

Artemis breathed her last breath at 12.37pm AEDT today. It was a peaceful moment. I held her while she moved from this world into the next. I cried. I am crying now.

Artemis led a gloriously adventurous life, if perhaps short at a little over seven years. She hunted everything from moths and grasshoppers to rats and noisy miner birds, eating most of them. She even brought us the striped marsh frog from the garden pond — three times before she learned, the hard way, that it’s poisonous. She never did catch a currawong, and I’m glad of that.

Artemis used up one of her nine lives when her tail was crushed and eventually amputated.

Today I chose to take her ninth.

Dr Emily Payne from Pet Vets had shown me the ultrasound images and we’d discussed the questions I had this morning. Further imagery would be unlikely to give us any further information.

Artemis’ remaining kidney function was at most 50%. The left kidney was clearly not working at all, otherwise it would have been doing something useful while the right kidney was blocked by that kidney stone.

There’s no way to measure the function of the remaining kidney. There’s no magic test. One could perhaps conduct a biopsy and deduce the functioning, but the biopsy itself would cause damage. And if you’re going in for a biopsy, you might as well go in and tackle that kidney stone.

But even if surgery successfully removed the kidney stone — and obviously surgery brings it own risks, including damage or even destruction of that remaining kidney — what kidney function would remain? Most problems affecting one kidney also affect the other, either now or later. And as I mentioned yesterday, that the right kidney was a decent size was probably just because it was inflated by a back-up of urine. The urethra, for example, was bloated from a normal 0.4mm diameter to somewhere between 2 and 3mm!

All this had already been discussed with people at the University of Sydney. Everyone had agreed that the prognosis was “poor”. That’s one step above “grave”, when it’s three wishes and magic unicorn time, but only one small step.

I chose to end the story here because of that prognosis.

While I am moved by the outpourings of generosity, and I understand that some people want to “never give up” and “try every option”, I would prefer that such efforts were directed where they have more likelihood of producing a result. In Artemis’ case even the very best possible outcome, with that right kidney still somehow magically perfect, she’d still be only 20 percentage points of kidney function above serious long-term problems.

I don’t imagine for a moment that that kidney was somehow perfect. In all likelihood, it was the opposite.

At the risk of severe repetition, thank you again — thank you so much! — for all of your support. I could not have handled the last week without it.

The costs have been $109.10 for Pet Vets’ initial work, $558.85 for the emergency hospital visit, and $1453.15 more at Pet Vets, a total of $2121.10. There was also an $11 cab fare. Your donations have covered this and more, thank you. They totalled, as I’ve mentioned before, somewhere around $3500. I will update this post tomorrow with the exact figures. Total donations were $3,714.48, and I have published the full accounting.

Some friends and even strangers have insisted that their donation was to me as much as to Artemis, given my need to move house at a difficult time, and for that I say another thank you.

Once I have deducted those personal gifts from the total, the remainder will be donated to the Cat Protection Society of NSW. It was they who gave Artemis her life, and I’d like to support their continuing work.

If for whatever reason you would prefer this not to happen, please just let me know and I will refund your donation immediately. If you paid via PayPal, please make sure you email using the same address you use for PayPal so I can find your donation quickly. If you paid by bank transfer, please send me the account details so I can transfer the funds back. You do not have to explain why. I understand this story did not end as we wished. I understand if you do not agree with my choices.

My sincere thanks also to Drs Emily Payne, Glen Kolenc and Meredith Gibbs and your team at Pet Vets. Your honesty and humanity has made an enormous difference this week.

Thanks also to Dr Helsa Teh and Dr Dharshinee Rajkumar and your colleagues at Sydney After-hours Veterinary Emergency Service for giving Artemis this unexpected extra week of life. I’m sorry I can’t thank everyone by name, but I forgot to gather them all.

I believe you will understand if I take the rest of the day off, although I will be reading your comments.

[Photo: Artemis photographed on 19 January 2009 by Trinn ('Pong) Suwannapha. There are more images from this day.]

[Update 15 January 2011: Post edited to include final totals of both costs and donations, and link to the accounting.]

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63 comments

  1. Stephen Collins’s avatar

    Condolences. I have been where you are with a young cat. This is hard.

  2. josh909’s avatar

    I’m so sorry that you will no longer have Artemis in your life. Please feel free to pass on our small donation to the Cat Protection Society – that’s where we adopted our cat and they do great work.

  3. Alex’s avatar

    Sorry to hear that. It’s a hard decision indeed.

  4. Tom’s avatar

    My thoughts and sympathy are with you. You made the decision that had to be made and you have my respect for that.

    I’m perfectly happy to have my donation go to the Cat Protection Society. A very worthy cause.

    Vale, Artemis, you had a better life than most cats could ever wish to have.

  5. BernardK’s avatar

    RIP Artemis.

    My thoughts are with you Stil, and Apollo, and of course with ‘Pong.

    I’m in a #sekretmeeting so can’t write more, but I’m almost in tears myself. She was a lovely cat who had had the joy and privilege of helping care for when you were overseas those years ago.

    B

  6. Fiona’s avatar

    A very sad day. My words are not going to add anything so I’ll send hugs instead to you and Apollo.

  7. tim’s avatar

    I’m so sorry. She was a beautiful cat and great companion, from the pics and what you write.

  8. Rachael’s avatar

    Very sad but I respect the choice you made in her best interests.

  9. Kelly Yeoh’s avatar

    I am so, so sorry… *sigh*

  10. Grog’s avatar

    My thoughts are with you – we had to say goodbye to our cat of 15 years in November (yep – kidneys) – just a horrible time. I wanted to offer you advice yesterday but couldn’t think what I’d do – our cat was old, Artemis was sadly young.

    Yesterday we went to the local RSPCA and adopted up a 7 month old stray, nothing will replace “Scamper” but it is wonderful to have a cat again in our lives.

    Best wishes.

  11. BaffleGabble’s avatar

    Clarence, Augustus and Golly Gilbert who have all found life Over the Rainbow send their condolances to you….and thank you for giving Artemis such a wonderful Life.

  12. Shaunnagh’s avatar

    Such sad news. I’m really sorry for your loss. There is nothing I can say to make you feel any better, I know too well. I do think you made the right decision – please try not to beat yourself up.

    Thank you again for making your story public – as I said previously it helped me realise something about my own cat that I didn’t know.

  13. Warwick Rendell’s avatar

    Stil, I know all too well there are no magic words at a time like this.

    I’m sorry to hear that this was the outcome, but I understand the gravity of your decision.

    You’re in my thoughts.

  14. wendy phillips’s avatar

    No words, just thinking of you at this difficult time. Take care.

  15. 'Pong’s avatar

    I am torn but relieved that she has no longer suffered with the illness. For me, it will in grief and mourning period. Time will do that.

    I love you, my little cutie kitty. We’ll see you again in your next life if there’s such thing.

  16. Joop’s avatar

    My condolences. I am really sad that it had to come to this…

  17. Bec’s avatar

    My condolences at this difficult time. And I echo the sentiments here, it is sad and I respect your decision. Thankyou for sharing your experiences. It brought back memories for me of my cat and how decisions like this are always so tough. All the best.

  18. moldor’s avatar

    No words can describe how I feel for you at the moment… Miss6 and Miss10 are in tears, as am I, and they both send their hugs to you.

    You have made the right decision given the available information and for the best benefit of Artemis. She will always be alive in your heart.

  19. Stilgherrian’s avatar

    Thank you all so much. It is both heartwarming and heartwrenching reading these comments flow past.

    Apollo has been spending most of his time close to me, what with ’Pong having left for Bangkok and now Artemis gone. But he is a confident cat, despite his compulsive over-grooming, and he will continue to thrive.

  20. zuzu’s avatar

    Dear Stil,

    Weeping with you now. You truly have my condolences in this heartwrenching story. I have grown to love this cat, tho never had the pleasure of patting her. She’s not suffering anymore. That is the important thing. I’m sorry for your loss.

    xx and big hugs
    Susan

  21. sylmobile’s avatar

    My sympathies, Stil.

  22. AS’s avatar

    The final, important act of love we can offer is to hold them as they drift off – it’s a consolation that the last thing they hear is your voice, and the last thing they feel is your embrace.

    You acted unselfishly in her best interests. What more could a cat want or need in a friend?

  23. gavin’s avatar

    Sorry to hear you have lost a loved one. Take great cheer in Apollo. My thoughts are with you

  24. Lauren’s avatar

    So sorry,
    From someone who loves her pets more than nearly all humans she encounters here is a hug and some love from me. Give apollo a hug from me and know that you did everything with Artemis best interests at heart!
    Xxx So sorry
    Lauren

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