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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My Wise Little Lion is Gone

-- Hooman Momma

Sábio Leãozinho is the literal translation of wise little lion in Portuguese. Our vet wanted him to be an action star if he grew up, but Saab always preferred to be a ninja.


It's been a month since the biggest battle of Saab's short life has been lost. I never updated this blog, because it was very painful for me to accept that Saab is no longer around to bring joy and mischief to our humble home.

Tiny Saab. What a cutiepie!
Saab was a handsome boy. No doubt about that.

When Saab was still confined at The Pet Project Vet Clinic and people asked me how he was, I always choked on my reply -- HE'S DYING. For how else can you describe the quick deterioration of Saab's health? That after only 3 weeks of discovering the first symptom, he was gone? That his vibrant, conversational meow when he was still well was reduced to a mere cry of pain as the days went on? That each day he spent at the hospital was a day closer to his death sentence? It was truly a very tough journey that no loving pet parent and furbaby deserve to go through.

Saab was scared of dogs before, but he shared a short friendship with Buster at the clinic, a black Labrador. Maybe because they're both black?
The first symptom that appeared was his unevenly dilated eyes, and his left iris developed a red-orange tint. Later on, his right pupil became irregularly shaped, as seen in these photos.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) is a heartless, evil disease that steals the life of beautiful angels, whose only fault was acquiring corona virus that mutated in their genetically predisposed DNA. One trigger is all it takes to activate its fury -- sickness, stress, or anything that would compromise his immune system. In Saab's case, it was his neutering. There's really nothing we could have done about it -- not neutering was not an option. FIP is like a thief in the night that waits patiently for an opportunity to attack and take over.

Saab being prepped for neutering by Dr. Riza and Dr. Melay on August 18, 2013.
Saab recovering at home after surgery.

What's even more depressing is that there is no cure for FIP. There are experimental drugs such as Interferon Omega and Polyprenyl Immunostimulant, but before we could even get our hands on these options, Saab's FIP already progressed to the point of no return. Using these drugs would be futile, because Saab was already beyond repair. Logistically, it would have not been possible for the medicines to arrive on time because it had to be ordered from the US, and while it can be sent via FedEx, customs in Manila (knowing how corrupt they are) may intercept an experimental drug and not release it on time. It is an expensive drug, but I know in my heart that I would never hesitate to try it if we only had the means.

On October 12, Saturday, I knew it was almost time. Our amazing vets, Dr. Riza Zunio and Dr. Melay Pelayo, already talked to me about putting Saab to sleep. But I chose to hold on. I just couldn't let go. I spent several nights sleeping beside Saab at the clinic, and on that last night, we slept together peacefully with him using my arm as his pillow. 

In the morning of October 13, Sunday, at exactly 9:00 am, Saab marched weakly to his favorite sun spot at the balcony of his suite. For the last two weeks, he goes there everyday, to lounge around the fake grass under the sun. Oh, how he loved that spot. It was so heartwarming that despite his condition, he still chose to enjoy what little life is left in him. He grew even weaker in the afternoon, and Dr. Riza decided to put him on IV drip. He seemed stable, and I decided to leave him at 4:30 pm to freshen up at home.

Saab's beautiful suite, his home for 3 weeks. He had supervised access to the balcony where he spent his morning lounging on his sun spot.

A peaceful photo of Saab on his last day, sleeping on the fake grass.

At 6:15 pm on October 13, I received a call from Dr. Riza, telling me that Saab had a seizure. It was almost time. My mom and I hurriedly left home. While on the road, at 6:38 pm, I received a text message that he's gone. We arrived at the clinic at 6:45 pm, and we were 15 minutes late. He finally gave up at 6:30 pm, in the arms of our loving vets. They tried to revive him, but he was already too tired. He didn't want to fight anymore. 

Saab had the sad look of death on his last day. He was too tired to fight a battle bigger and tougher than him.

I prayed hard that if Saab couldn't be cured anymore, then just please let him rest. But even if Saab prepared me for 3 weeks for the inevitable, it was still very tragic. It was even more painful that he decided to leave without me by his side, but what comforted me was the thought that he probably loved me so much he didn't want me to see him die. 

I realized that putting an animal companion to sleep is a very personal decision that should only be discussed by people directly involved in the care of the sick animal. At the onset of his illness, I received several messages from people telling me to relieve him of the pain and just put him to sleep. But those 3 weeks were too precious to give away. He was even still very playful in the first week. I would never have it any other way. When I got that crucial call from Dr. Riza, I was ready to let him rest, because I knew that was it.. But I am still glad he didn't let me make that choice. It would have broken me even more.

The last best thing I could give to Saab is a private cremation and beautiful memorabilia, to honor all the beautiful memories he left us with. I am thankful I found Pet Valley Park and Crematory for the quick and efficient service.

This cross stich craftwork was given to us by our vets. What a great way to capture the blessed life of Saab at the Rainbow Bridge!

Time heals all wounds. While it got easier as days passed by, I still miss him. Everyday. I light a candle for him every morning, just to relish in the warm and sweet personality of Saab. It gets me going each day.

I would like to thank my mom, our vets, friends, PAWsome Cats followers, and the Facebook groups FIP Fighters and Cat Care Philippines, for holding my hand (physically and virtually) in this difficult journey. I am truly grateful for all the heartfelt support that you have given me, and for all the love that you showered Saab with.

I hope you are not getting into too much trouble at the Rainbow Bridge, Saab. You must be giving St. Francis a lot of headache. I love you, Sábio Leãozinho. Goodbye, little one...


Saab. :'(

This post brings tears to my eyes. :(

Jonna, this is a very touching tribute. You really have a gift with words and emotional expression. You have captured the very essence of Saab. I think you were not only blessed with a remarkable soul but the vets you had were in a class of their own. Your pictures are so vibrant, such richness and depth - they speak of Saab in every way.

@skysenshi Bea, I still shed a few tears at home when I remember him. He was truly a special character :(

Thank you very much, @Aurora for all your good words and support. You never fail to make me feel that I am never alone in this journey. And yes, I can't thank our vets enough for everything they did for Saab and for what they still continue doing for Qish and Rue. They are a true gift to the animals and us, animal companions.

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