Our little pack has gotten a lot smaller. On Saturday morning, my mama’s boy Flint passed away, here at home, quickly and peacefully. He leaves behind two last sisters, Jade and Jasmine, and the new kitty.
For the past several months, he’d been coping with a number of various health problems that still didn’t manage to quench his good spirit and easy-going, what’s-next attitude. He had neurological issues that eventually made him unable to walk; chronic GI problems; and an undefined malabsorption syndrome that meant he couldn’t gain weight, no matter how much he ate. When he got extremely finicky in January, we thought he was going to starve to death within weeks. None of his conditions responded to the standard treatments.
But we all pressed on together, finding food he liked and a routine that kept him happy and comfortable. It seemed every couple of months he’d get hit with another problem that we thought was The End—a vestibular incident (like vertigo in humans; it’s not serious but he already wasn’t eating or walking well) in February, then mega-esophagus in April, the same horrible condition that ultimately killed his sisters Ladygirl and Tessa last fall. We were devastated to get that diagnosis a third time, and we thought it was over then.
But Flint still pressed on! He adapted immediately to his new complicated feeding protocols and even started eating better than he had in months. We settled into a new, happy, comfortable routine for almost three months. He was alert and cheerful and still our old buddy Flinto.
Still, we knew it couldn’t last forever—our “pups” were over 15, after all. And he started winding down about three weeks ago—he’d dropped to just 35 lbs (a good 20 less than he should have weighed), was struggling with the physical actions of eating (trouble chewing and swallowing, dropping food, drooling excessively), and just getting weaker. I’d already been supporting him every time he had to go outside; for the last few days I was carrying him out. Friday night he developed a congested sort of cough, and we thought he was showing his first signs of aspiration pneumonia–the deadly complication of mega-esophagus (the esophagus doesn’t function properly, and they can aspirate food or water into their lungs). We’d been through that before, of course, with Ladygirl, so we knew what to do: antibiotics, chest thumping to loosen up the lungs, supplemental oxygen. At 5 am we gave him a drink of water—his favorite!—and at 6 he settled down at last into a comfortable sleep… and stayed that way, passing away peacefully about half an hour later.
Flint was our pack leader, alpha male, and all-around cool dude. He was so relaxed and easy-going, very little ever phased him, even when he was ill. Taking care of him these last few months was a lot of work, and most of our time, but it was so worth it. I’ve gotta say this—if you have to lose a best friend, spending your last three months cuddling with him (we had to hold him up after he ate to help the esophagus work) is really not a bad way to do it. We got in a lifetime’s worth of hugs and quality time in those few months, and I don’t regret a minute of it.
Thanks, pal. You were a great son. Take care of your brothers and sisters for us, just like you always did.