At this time last week, I was waiting for the results of another test on my mysteriously sick cat. After months of digestive problems, Peach weighed six pounds. The vet had already ruled out the main cat diseases – diabetes, hyperthyroid, feline leukemia. This test was for pancreatitis. Aside from the fact that she couldn't keep food down, she was perplexingly healthy. With no diagnosis, she kept getting worse. It was my understanding that after this, there would be nothing else to do for her besides exploratory surgery. Cost aside, I didn't think she was strong enough to survive a surgery. She was clearly declining. I didn't feel optimistic about the test results, since none of the other tests had told me anything. So I started to accept that I was going to lose her, and probably soon. The only question was whether I would have to make the decision myself. I spent several nights last week crying next to her cat bed, praying for God to take her peacefully so she wouldn't have to be scared at the vet in her last moments.
I'd been praying for Peach every day for at least a year. I prayed and prayed and prayed for God to heal her or provide answers, but she kept getting sicker. Over time, it really started to mess with me spiritually. Sometimes I'd hear her getting sick in another room, and I'd think in despair, God, why won't you have mercy on one of your little creatures? Sometimes it devolved all the way to, Okay God, so it doesn't matter if I suffer, but how can you allow her suffering? Where's the purpose in that? I think this experience has given me a tiny window into how parents of severely ill children feel. It's awful to witness the distress of a creature who relies on you for care, and be unable to do anything else to help. I went through that for months and months. The only thing that comforted me last week was the certainty that one way or another, it was almost over. Either she'd get better, or she wouldn't make it. I didn't want to lose her, but I knew I was at a breaking point. I pretty much gave up and waited for bad news. God had said no, and I would just have to accept it and cope with it somehow.
Then, last Wednesday evening, the vet left me a voicemail. In the space of that voicemail, I did a total emotional 180 from grief to euphoria. The test results were in, and Peach didn't have pancreatitis. Not even close. BUT! He suspected she might have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS – just like humans get) and was willing to try treating her for that if I was okay with it. Immediately I was flooded with hope and relief. I didn't care that it wasn't a definitive diagnosis and the medicine might not even work. I was just thrilled that she had one more chance at life.
Sure enough, Peach has been on meds for almost a week now and hasn't gotten sick ONCE! She obviously feels better, is eating heartily, and has more energy. Feline IBS isn't curable, but it's manageable with prednisone. She's on a pretty high dose right now, but once things are under control, we'll scale back to the lowest dose that will keep her healthy. Added bonus: prednisone is cheap, I can even pick it up at a regular pharmacy, and she takes the pills happily in a pill pocket treat. I'm very hopeful that I'll get to see her healthy and plump again. :) Also, cats with IBS should be on a high-protein, low-grain diet. I switched both cats to grain-free food back in September in case Peach's problem was a food allergy. That switch might have saved her life.
Regardless of how things unfold from here, I have a renewed assurance of God's providence and care. I'm sure this whole story seems melodramatic and laughable to some because, you know, "it's just a cat." But 1) that cat is part of my family, and 2) this experience has been about much more than a pet. A lot of the emotional byproducts haven't been new to me. I already know what it's like to pray long-term for healing and restoration, to give it everything I have, only to watch what I love fall apart and die. It's been rough to go through that process again in any capacity. I'm also slowly losing hope that some of those losses will be redeemed. But God pulled off an eleventh-hour miracle with my cat when I seriously had no hope left. I had already given her up for dead, and He gave her back to me. He was there the whole time. He heard me. He had compassion on both of us. It's not a guarantee. But it's definitely something.