Saturday, September 30, 2023
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A Moment of Clarity

Jelly Bean on June 29–he often shared his favorite basket with Hamlet. Somehow I didn’t get a photo of him in the basket on July 23, but I’d taken this one nearly a month earlier because he looked so cute, but never had the chance to share it.

I haven’t had the quiet moments after Jelly Bean’s loss that I did with Mewsette or others. Everything happened so fast with him that I didn’t even have the time to consider what was happening and adjust to the changes. So I’ve taken the time to look back over text messages telling others about his condition in his last weeks and days to remember the order and timing of things and do that now.

I had written briefly about his last few days when I posted here on July 26, that we were letting him go. There was a moment in that last rush of days that I mentioned briefly, when I felt hopeful that his health was improving, that evolved in retrospect to a “moment of clarity” for Jelly Bean that he chose to share with me.


“He’s feeling much better now. I gave him a loop treatment with the full loop before I left, and I asked Ingrid for a reiki treatment,” I texted to Dr. Elgersma on Sunday, July 23 after I’d come home from the farmers market.

While Bean had done well while they were confined to the basement for four days and the first floor for a week prior to that, all on one floor so no steps, food out all the time and litter boxes handy, I had let them upstairs on Thursday evening after the kitchen was finished. He was happy to explore the new kitchen floor and the room with very little in it.  He was so happy to sleep with me Thursday night after four days apart.

Jelly Bean, at the bottom edge of the photo, easily made it up the steps the evening I let them upstairs, cruising around.

But Friday he seemed weak with no appetite and I was concerned at his unsteadiness. I took him for his blood redraw at PetWellClinic on Friday afternoon, happy we’d have some information about his condition soon. The redraw went well so I didn’t mention my concerns about him, but when we came home he didn’t want to come out of his carrier, and then one by one his brothers and Mimi gathered around and even in the carrier with him. Apparently he needed their energy, but I made note and sent it along to Dr. Elgersma because I’d been concerned before, but never seen this. “I think Jelly Bean got a big power energy transfer from his brothers. He still hasn’t come out of there, but he at least lifts his head and looks at me when I pet him.”

Jelly Bean’s brothers give him a power energy session.

Saturday was more of the same and he voluntarily took himself up to the bathroom so I gave him fluids and let him sleep them off up there, later took up a bowl of food and closed the door; water and litterbox were already in place. He didn’t eat much or use the litterbox, later in the kitchen at dinner he did have a few treats and licked some food but wanted to go back up. I had started feeding him a little by hand, but started to give him more at this point.

Jelly Bean on Saturday.

He looked horrible before I went to the Farmers Market Sunday morning. I gave him an Assisi loop treatment and asked Ingrid for reiki and left him in his Sleepypod hoping he’d feel better later when I came home. I took this photo before I left to take with me so when I found quiet moments I could focus on him while I was away, really holding off the thought that I was actually going to lose him just weeks after Mewsette.

The photo I took of Jelly Bean in the Sleepypod before I went to the Farmers Market.

Some good news

Ingrid emailed while I was at the market that his energy was better than the previous week, but he still had pain and pulled a lot of energy to his upper GI, which she’d mentioned previously. Dr. Sudberg emailed as well about his blood tests, and while there were changes, but just slight changes, like mild anemia, high white blood cells and liver values though one value was unchanged, kidney values unchanged, all of it could have been due to either hyperthyroid disease or the beginnings of GI disease and nothing at all was urgent. His T4 had reduced from 9 to 3.7 in just the six weeks he’d been on methimazole.

So I was thrilled when he was sitting up in his Sleepypod when I came home, and I decided to hop in the shower to cool down and in that minute or two he went all the way down the stairs to the basement to use one of the litter boxes. His lifelong habit was to only use the bathroom litter box for pee. He produced a very tiny piece of stool, though I think I’d missed the first part of the movement that was very liquid which was what I consistently saw after that. He then quietly sat at the basement door for quite some time looking out in the backyard.

Jelly Bean looking out the basement door.

He couldn’t make it back up the basement steps on his own; just three days before when I’d let them up from the basement he hurried up the steps and went up and down several times. Despite all of this I was hopeful that we’d find something to “fix” with medications and treatment and bring him back to health after hearing from Ingrid and Dr. Sudberg.

The moment of clarity

I carried him upstairs to the kitchen and he kind of fussed around for a while looking for a place to nap, in his wicker cubby, I brought the Sleepypod down, none of that was quite right.

I left the kitchen and sat down at my computer to give him some space. He came over to me and put his paws up on my leg and looked up at me…that face. Normally if he wanted on my lap he’d jump up on my desk and walk over to me and step down, but he wasn’t able to do that now. It was the first time he hadn’t chosen to just go up to the bathroom where he seemed to feel most comfortable, or settle in his Sleepypod in the kitchen, in a couple of weeks at least. I smiled and picked him up to set him on my lap. He curled up and actually purred for a little bit while I petted him—Jelly Bean of the legendary loud and constant purr, it was the first purr I’d heard in days.

Jelly Bean sleeping on my lap.

After 20 minutes or so he got up and walked along the edge of the desk to the baskets and had about an hour long nap in his favorite basket by the window.

Jelly Bean on June 29–he often shared his favorite basket with Hamlet. Somehow I didn’t get a photo of him in the basket on July 23, but I’d taken this one nearly a month earlier because he looked so cute, but never had the chance to share it.

He woke up from that and went to the wedge scratcher at the foot of the stairs, it was new and his absolute favorite, the only one to use it there, and had a good hearty scratch. Then he came back down the three steps from the landing and over to me and wanted back up on my lap after some uncertainty, purring again. “So he’s far more normal now than he was when I left this morning,” I finished my comments to Dr. Elgersma. He did participate in dinner, having treats and licking his food, leaving and returning for more, and napping later.

Jelly Bean’s favorite scratcher on the landing.

I call this his moment of clarity, an observed phenomenon that happens with people or animals who are incapacitated, unconscious or in dementia who awaken and interact more clearly than recently, often for some time, within hours or a few days of death. Because his energy was so close to who he had always been, and he was much more active and definitive of what he wanted than he had been in a few weeks as he declined, I thought he was actually turning around and feeling better, but it seems he was taking a portion of his energy to indulge in some of his favorite things in life, maybe making memories to take with him.

But back to decline

Even though I gave him his fluids and all his medications and herbs and hand fed him as much as he would tolerate Sunday night and early Monday morning prior to breakfast, he was feeling weak again even though he tried to participate in breakfast and treats, and really went downhill through the day. I’d missed getting Freshpet on Sunday because I’d been in a hurry to get home to him but I picked some up when I went to purchase Morty’s food. He really went after it, but even with that seemed to have the issue I’d seen with other foods, that he couldn’t really pick it up with his tongue or with his teeth, so I hand fed him. He only took about a half ounce but I held some back to feed to him later.

Jelly Bean participates in dinner; he is the cat in the lower left with his face in the dish.

I messaged to Dr. Elgersma that it almost seemed as if digesting food was painful and left him feeling weak; over the course of hours he would curl up in his Sleepypod but slowly unwind and crawl out, stretched out in what looked like pain. I gave him palliative measures along with gabapentin for the pain and observed him downstairs and back up in the bathroom.

I don’t know if that week in the basement weakened him, because he actually seemed pretty energetic when I was down there. In fact on the previous Monday morning when they started working he actually broke out of the basement pushing aside the barriers at the hole in the basement door and got back up into the kitchen. He did spend a good bit of time down there just sleeping but I often found him sleeping at the top of the stairs as if he expected the basement door to open. He didn’t necessarily look physically comfortable, a little weak and wobbly, but he was also up and walking around, going to the food bowls, and I often saw him sitting at the door looking outside when I came out. I did open the door for him a few times to see if he wanted to join Mimi and me, but he sat where he was.

Jelly Bean and Sunshine at the basement door while the kitchen floor was under construction.

Monday evening I messaged to Dr. Elgersma, “Okay I really don’t want to have another night like this one, but I think I see a pattern. Jelly Bean was really feeling horrible a couple of times over the past 12 hours. He did eat at breakfast and afterward then he went back upstairs to the bathroom and I settled him in there. Several hours later he apparently felt better came down the stairs and ate some more, hung out for a bit, then went back upstairs, curled up in his bed not moving, or out on the floor stretched out looking miserable, not interested in food or anything. Later he was feeling better and tried to come down the steps on his own but he’s so weak he actually rolled down the bottom three, unfortunately.”

But later he went into a really painful state where he was just flat on the floor and not moving. That went on for hours, I decided to stay up, almost afraid to go to sleep. He went into his Cabana downstairs and I put baby gates at the kitchen and basement doorways so I could continue getting some work done and keep an eye on him more closely. It was really pretty scary for a few hours. But whenever the spasm or whatever it is would pass he was famished and feeling good even though he was extremely weak. I fed him a little more late and gave him a loop treatment and decided I was going to get a few hours of sleep.

Jelly Bean gets a loop treatment.

And that was when something turned over in me that despite the good reports I felt he was sliding to failure, so I observed him through Monday until 5:00 a.m. Tuesday, just stayed up and decided if he didn’t change I was going to take him to Rivers Veterinary Urgent Care on Tuesday because they could do the blood tests right there and also imaging if he needed it.

I woke up on Tuesday literally and figuratively fully realizing what was happening with Jelly Bean, and unless the veterinarians at Rivers saw some avenue for treatment I knew his end was near. I messaged Dr. Elgersma with my decision and asked her if she could do a euthanasia if it came to that, I didn’t know if it was time then or soon, but I just wanted to be prepared.

The decision is made

I heard back from Dr. Dutra at Rivers who confirmed my fears. He weighed four pounds and his body temperature was 97 degrees though I had tried hard to keep him warm. He had just lost too much ground, his liver was failing and probably past turning around with the rapid weight loss. I knew the diarrhea I’d seen had to do with liver failure and it had showed up just in the previous week; he had used the basement box that morning and I swiped up samples to take with me. He most likely did have lymphoma and was very dehydrated even though I’d been giving him fluids every day. So even with intensive care, even if I could afford it, I didn’t think he had a chance that would help him to feel better, and though prednisolone to treat the possibly lymphoma would prop him up he might end up the same as Mewsette, just collapsing at some point. I’d love to see him turn around a little bit like Mewsette did, but he had just deteriorated so quickly, far faster than Mewsette did, and he was smaller and now more frail.

Dr. Dutra gave him a long-acting pain medication to help with discomfort until the time, and I would just quit all the other medications so I didn’t stress him but  would keep giving him fluids.

Dr. Elgersma responded she could stop by at 11:00 on Wednesday, which was July 26, their 16th birthday.

The last night

I brought him home and he stayed in his carrier, in the kitchen where all could be around him. I regretted the choice of sedative though I had vaguely remembered when he had a urinary blockage in 2012 that the buprenorphine for pain made him restless and jittery, and now it seemed to put a distance around him. I grew accustomed to that, though, I knew he was still in there.

Jelly Bean after the buprenorphine.

He stayed in the carrier and we stayed in the kitchen for hours as I posted about the day and our plans for the next, corresponding with friends about him. Ultimately Mr. Sunshine settled near him so I gave him a softer bed to settle on.

Mr. Sunshine settled near Jelly Bean and stayed with him until we all went to bed.

Much later I carried him upstairs to bed in his carrier and his brothers came along. I only zipped up the door when I felt myself drifting off because I didn’t want him to fall off the bed if I really did fall asleep, though I didn’t want to miss a moment of his last hours. I opened it up again when I woke up to daylight. His brothers were still there, and his last day had begun.

Jelly Bean in his carrier in the morning; by the time I got a photo Sunshine and Giuseppe had moved but were still there.

All of us together

I will share the experience of having him put to sleep here, and all the other cats’ responses that day. Soon I will share the first few days of my grieving process and the confusion of still grieving Mewsette, how my grief over the two was different and how I feel bad about my grief for him not feeling as intense as for Mewsette, and not feeling his presence but opening my mind and heart and finding he was here.


From the time I began writing about my experiences in pet loss with my loss of Namir in 2009, relating what I was feeling and thinking about it as I moved through grief, readers have thanked me, often in private, for my honesty, grateful to know another shared their feelings as they moved through grief, or helped them make a decision.

You can find all my posts about Jelly Bean’s illness and loss and my resulting grieving experience in the category Remembering Jelly Bean.

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