This is Brillo

Summer 2017, Brillo in the garden. Photo by Gunter Turker

Here’s Brillo’s Story – A Tribute to Brillo who left this earth yesterday.

written by Lynn Gandy, December 12, 2017

I hope this may help other people who have cats with kidney failure to know when the time is right to let them go as writing this has helped me to get closure over my heartbreaking day yesterday:

Brillo was a Kapparis street cat. She was found as a tiny kitten with her other 4 siblings at the bottom of a large green waste bin. They must have been put in there as there was no way they could have got in there otherwise. Nor could they get out as the bin had recently been emptied and there was nothing for them to climb onto to get out of it either!

We tipped the bin on its side, got them out and took all of the kittens just a short distance away to our beach shelter to be safer, but one by one they all either died or disappeared except for Brillo and her brother Toby.

Brillo and Lynn on the beach.

One cold and wet Cyprus winter afternoon I went to feed the beach colony and Brillo, Toby and another kitten from the colony (Scruff) were waiting for me, cold, wet, shivering and sneezing. I took all 3 of them home, initially for just a few days until they were 100% healthy again. The winter was very wet in 2015 and I couldnt bring myself to take them back and so they stayed with us where I set about trying to find homes for them, but no one came forward. (Scruff has only recently been re homed after over 2 years. We still have Toby).

Brillo on the Beach Colony

Brillo was always a small, low maintenance, sweet natured, but also quite timid cat who always kept herself to herself, preferring to eat alone under the dining table rather than enter the daily feeding frenzy outside with the other cats here. She was never a lap cat (until her last days) always preferring to rub round your legs or against the other cats who would allow her to.

She spent most of her days lying in the sunshine in the long grass or if it became cooler, lying on a dining chair under the table in the kitchen. We hardly knew she was there.

One day in the early summer of 2017 I thought she had lost weight (not always easy to see with a long haired cat). So I took her to my vet for a check up, a blood test was done and the vet diagnosed kidney problems. She had to stay in the clinic for a while on a drip which she absolutely hated and became very aggressive and difficult to handle – not like her at all.

One day in August she had deteriorated so much I was considering euthanasia as I could see she was very unhappy. My vet asked me to give her a few more days as they were trying a different medication (Semintra) and low and behold in a couple of days she seemed remarkably better.

I decided to bring her home as I thought that being in the clinic was stressing her out too much and that she would be happier in her own surroundings. My vet agreed but I had to bring her back to the clinic every day for subcutaneous fluid injections to flush out her kidneys.

On her way to the vets for her daily visits. Looks like she is praying.

And so I brought her back home where she remained stable and was 100% happier and more back to her “old” self, although she didnt like her daily vet visits but which were so necessary for her continued survival. Over the next weeks she lived a good quality of life, still basking in the sunshine, sharpening her claws on the outdoor mat, saying “hello” to her other furry friends, eating and drinking (a LOT – as kidney cats do) and just being “Brillo”, the sweet little cat she’d always been.

Only 1.7 kilos so I put a jumper on her to keep her warm. As you can see she is not amused.

Even so, over the weeks I could see a continuing deterioration in her condition – more weight loss, eating less, sleeping more. Then in the last couple of weeks of her life her daily routine started to change dramatically. She didnt want to get out of bed in the morning and follow me to the kitchen where she would sit on the work surface while I made a cup of tea. She didnt want to go out and scratch on the mat, nor go for her morning outside wee and then lie on “her” rock in the garden in the warm sunshine for a bit. She just wanted to go back to or stay in bed.

She was barely eating some days and my vet would give her medication to make her eat which worked, but during her last days even this didnt work and she was just licking the juice or gravy from the wet food I gave her. By this time I wasnt giving her just special renal food as I had been, but gave her anything to tempt her to eat.

In the last week of her life she became very weak and wobbly and I knew that the benchmark I had set myself to set her free was becoming ever closer. I knew the weakness could have been anaemia or low potassium which would have meant she could have gone back to the vet and been put on a drip. Maybe they wouldnt be able to find a vein as she was by now so tiny. She would get so stressed. This could have prolonged her life for a few more days or even weeks but from now on she was only going to get worse not better. No. I wasnt going to put her through that. She had been through enough.

I had read many things on the internet about when the time is right to let your pet go and one thing stuck in my mind which was “better to be a week too early than a day too late”. I didnt want her to start having seizures and vomiting or feel so bad from all the toxins in her body that her kidneys werent getting rid of.

After a weekend of her barely moving, only to go to the toilet (if she made it – she sometimes wet her bed) and her just lying there staring into space, I could see that her quality of life had now gone and it was time to set her spirit free. I had made a promise to her that I would not let her suffer and asked her to let me know when she had had enough and I could now see this in her eyes.

And so first thing on Monday morning 11th December 2017 I placed a fresh hot water bottle in her igloo with her and took her to my vet who administered the injections as I held her, stroking her and holding her paw, reassuring her all the time that I was there, that I loved her, that she would soon be free, not to be scared, the angels were going to take care of her now…….

As I looked into her eyes her pupils dilated and contracted and her light just went out. She took a few final breaths through her mouth and she was gone, so gently, so quietly. She was now at peace.

I brought her home and laid her on “her” rock where one by one many of the cats came to say “goodbye”, her brother Toby even “standing guard” over her for a while. Later I buried her under the fig tree and left my wooden Bastet, Goddess of the cats figurine at her head to protect her on her journey to the Rainbow Bridge where I know she will be waiting for me when my time comes.

Summer 2017, Brillo in the garden. Photo by Gunter Turker

Rest in Peace beautiful Brillo. Thank you for sharing your life (and your death) with me. It has been a great honour. I will miss your little face always. xx



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