It’s the Quality of Life That Matters, Not the Length of It

As you may know by reading my posts in Luluopolis (and thank you very much for that!), I’ve talked about our rescue cat, Pepper, who lives with hereditary restrictive cardiomyopathy (please refer to “The Christmas Cat,” December 2013, and “Love in the Shape of a 12-Lb. Cat,” just recently). The Crankee Yankee (my husband) and I love him dearly, as much as our other two, Nala and Pookie. The fact that Pepper has health issues that require a lot of meds and vet visits is certainly to be considered, and we are well aware that we could lose him at any time.

Although our wonderful vet believes that Pepper is probably between 5-7 years old, we feel he may be much older. The fact that he somehow managed on his own before the Crankee Yankee rescued him is a miracle. But we do feel that he chose us, perhaps feeling in his body and soul that he could no longer live without help. My feeling is that animals are practical versus sentimental. I’m pretty sure that they don’t waste their time fretting about possessions or status or how long they will live or what kind of food they eat (just as long as there is food to eat)–I think that they take a more practical approach to life. In Pepper’s case, I think he might have known he needed help to go on, so he picked the Crankee Yankee to rescue him.

If you read “Love in the Shape of a 12-Lb. Cat,” then you know all about the trip to the animal ER and all that Pepper had to endure. So far, things are good now. Each morning, the Crankee Yankee faithfully administers Pepper’s four meds (each one crushed and mixed with water and given orally in a syringe), timed to ten minutes apart. I usually hold Pepper while he gets his meds, and we give him a little treat after each one. We monitor his breathing patterns once a day when he naps, and then he gets three meds in the evening, following the same procedure as in the mornings. I will admit that this is a lot to be going through for us all, but we will keep on with it as long as we know that Pepper is benefiting from it.

Of course I realize that what we are doing is nothing compared to the constant and loving care that sick and/or aged people receive. I do not put any life, animal or human, below or above–life is life, and is therefore worthy and important. However, in our case with this dear fur friend we care for, we recognize that what matters is the quality of life, not the quantity of days of life lived. Knowing this, the Crankee Yankee and I have made the decision to stay with the status quo as long as Pepper is comfortable and enjoys his life. If another crisis should come as it did before, we do not want to put him through another terrifying and painful time again. We have decided to give him a peaceful end, with our arms around him and our words of love in his ears.

I truly pray that that time does not come soon, but we know that we are prepared to do right by this sweet spirit. When animals become our pets and we take over responsibility for their lives, they know that they will always have food, water, love, and care. I believe that they learn to accept these things as their due, and when the time comes when life is no longer good or comfortable, they look to us to help them have a peaceful departure. This is what we sign on for when we have pets. Sure, it’s not fun to force medicine down an unwilling, struggling cat or dog, nor is it a load of laughs to clean up poop and pee. But that’s part of the whole deal.

Although our time with our Pepper may not be long, we will do all we can for him. It is equal parts of love and kindness to be fair to that precious life we have taken to our hearts. We are doing our best for his best possible good. Whether his life is measured from now on in days, weeks, months or years, we will do all we can to make it good time.


One thought on “It’s the Quality of Life That Matters, Not the Length of It

  1. diane kirkup says:

    Life is life … we are chosen, as you wrote, I believe also. You know
    I understand and know firsthand taking care of a special needs beloved
    pet. No looking back after losing Woody. I would do it all over again.
    Love is love and their love to us is so, to me, magnified, as they accept
    us so unconditionally. As you say, day by day. Each day a gift of love
    given and received.

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