TikiIn the wee hours of Valentine’s Day morning, we lost one of our kitty-boys, Tiki. It was quick — too quick.

On Friday he had his annual checkup and while the doctor said everything was great now, a blood test revealed that he was starting into the very early stage kidney disease — so early that the only treatment option was to change him to a more kidney-friendly diet in his final years. And by most accounts he should have had a few more years at least.

But on Saturday, he snagged a claw while jumping into a chair and twisted/sprained his rear left foot. We took him to the local vet emergency clinic, where the doctor said he would be in pain for a couple of days but would be fine, and sent us home with some pain pills for him. After a day and a half, his swollen foot had almost returned to normal size, but something more was wrong. He refused to get up from his bed, and pretty much stopped eating and drinking. I had spoken with our regular vet that afternoon and he said that if he wasn’t drinking by morning, to bring him in for an injection of fluids because dehydration can be a concern, especially for the kidneys.

He was lucid and responsive around the time we went for some dinner on Monday evening, but a couple of hours after we got back, he started panting and was only barely responsive to stimuli. We rushed him to the emergency hospital where they administered fluids, did various blood tests, and said they thought he would probably be ok after a few days on fluids. So they sent us home. But around 5:20am they called us to say he had gone into cardio-pulmonary arrest and wasn’t breathing on his own. They agreed to keep him going until we could rush over (only a mile away). We said our goodbyes around 5:30am and they helped him finally go to sleep.

Clearly there was something terribly wrong going on that only Tiki knew about. Both the emergency vet and our regular vet are bewildered because this shouldn’t have happened, not like this… not this quickly. The small dose of pain medication he was on, Torbutrol, should have made him pretty loopy (and did), but shouldn’t have had any effect on his kidneys. And even on that, he shouldn’t have stopped drinking water. The blood tests were consistent with being pretty dehydrated, but none of the levels like sodium were high enough to explain what happened.

We will miss him terribly, but our grief is only a fraction of the pain and bewilderment that is in store for his brother, littermate, and life-long companion Felix. But we will support one another and get through this.

Love your pets, love each other. You never know what will happen.

If you feel inspired, please consider making a donation to the Humane Society of the United States. They did amazing work during Hurricane Katrina rescuing animals from the flood zone.

Please also check out Justin’s blog entry about Tiki. I’ve also created a Gallery of photos.