We've lost a few friends in the past 12 months - both the 2-legged and 4-legged types. And just when we thought this particular planetary alignment had been re-shuffled towards chaos, it spent the last of its cosmic influence on the weakest among us.
We were compelled to commit little Maple to the oblivion of the veterenarian's needle yesterday. She had been a member of the family for a scant 6 weeks or so, but the last 10 days saw her change: drastically, rapidly. Within a few days of our return from Europe, Maple had become lethargic and her apetite was lacking. Even her favourite game of 'chasing the little plastic thing down the hall' could not hold her interest.
By coincidence, we received word from the Cat Breeder that there had been problems in Maple's litter, and that we should call her if we noticed persistent sluggishness. We called and learned that Maple's father had passed along a disease called FIP - Feline Infectious Peritonitus. This wasting disease has no cure, no accurate test beyond autopsy, and is always fatal.
Maple stopped eating. She stopped playing. She spent the past week just sitting in patches of sunlight trying to keep warm while she dozed. We brought her water and we sat with her. She seemed to like that and, sometimes, she'd summon the energy to crawl into someone's lap for a neck scratch. Unfortunately there was little else we could do and, with Dr. Sears' blessing, we decided to end Maple's suffering rather than commit her to a painful and sad end brought about by a full run of FIP.
The kids are devastated. This was the 'real pet' they had never been able to have in the house until they discovered the uniqueness of Siberian cats. Now she's gone. To their credit they put Maple first, however. JediBoy put her in the carrier, kept Maple calm during the car ride, brought her into the vet's office, and handed her over. There were (and are) lots of tears, but we all played the best hand with cards that had been dealt.
Under the circumstances, Cat Breeder has dealt with this well. Maple's father has been sterilized and removed from the cattery. The other cats have been isolated according to standard FIP protocol. We have the choice of a refund or a new kitten (apparently this not the case with all breeders, so our vet tells us).
We'll have to decide what we want. While she wasn't with us long, Maple will not be forgotten - or replaced.