A blog about the restoration, remodel and renovation of a 1929 Chicago-style brick bungalow

Fighting the Good Fight

As some of you may have suspected by my absence this week, I do not have good news to report about Axel.

While his appetite improved slightly after the vet increased his prednisone last week, it was still a struggle to get him to eat enough. I went through can after can of cat food, trying to find something he would eat — more than just a few tiny bites. I gave him baby food, which helped a little, but neither he nor Günter has ever shown any interest in people food, so he wouldn’t eat anything else.

Toward the end of last week, I had decided that he could definitely not withstand another chemo treatment and I would not put him through it.

Over the weekend he developed an insatiable thirst. He was drinking water not only from his bowl and the bathtub every chance he could get, but also the kitchen and bathroom sink. I even held a cup of water for him to drink. He was eliminating it almost as fast as he was drinking it, so by Sunday I knew that this was only leading to kidney failure.

It was clear that he was not feeling well. He wasn’t sitting on my lap at all and started hiding in the closet. By this point I knew that there was a strong possibility that his Monday morning vet appointment could be his last and I was trying to prepare for that. As if one could ever prepare oneself for that.

While his tumor had shrunk that first week to almost nothing, it had steadily reappeared and by Monday it was as big as it was before. He had lost another 13 ounces in just a week. He was under 5 lbs. by this point — almost half his normal weight. He was still severely anemic, and because of that the vet thought he likely had the cancer in his bone marrow too.

I had no choice but to let Axel go. He died peacefully in my arms.

He fought the good fight, just as bravely as he fought his brother, Günter (on the right), as evidenced here. They were probably only about 8 months old in this photo and pretty evenly matched. But even when Günter grew to 1-1/2 times Axel’s size, Axel was usually the king around the house, and he seemed to believe it when I called him My Proud Lion.

As Axel grew sicker, Günter pretty much kept his distance. He was not happy about all the attention Axel received —— and he has been loving having me to himself the past couple of days —— however he has started wandering around the house crying, so I think it’s starting to sink in.

I know we did the right thing, and we did everything we could for our little Axel, but it was too much for him to overcome.

Rest in peace, my little man. You are sorely missed.


  1. 1916home.net on April 23, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    Im so sorry to here this news 🙁 I bow my head and say a prayer. Hopefully his journey will be fun and fast to wherever he goes. I let my Bisou out the door every saturday & sunday morning. He LOVES to roam the backyard, mostly just laying in the grass and enjoying the breeze. But I worry him getting hit by a car in the alley and finding him hurt. A few months ago I heard a big cat fight outside… some other cat had invaded our backyard and Bisou put up a valiant fight, but was clearly injured. He had two of his nails ripped out and I thought he was going to bite the dust becuase it looked much worse than it was. Still though, I had all sorts of thoughts in my mind how difficult it would be without him.

    Hang in there please! Its a tough time. I went through my mom dying of cancer last year. Pets also play such an important part of our lives – they too are family members.

  2. Rae on April 23, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    What a thoughtful post. De-lurking to say I am sorry for your loss — last January we lost our beloved cat after 14 years. I know all too well how sad it can be.

    Enjoy Gunter and the good memories of Axel.


  3. southsideandy on April 23, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    Not fun at all. But, it sounds like you did make the right decision…

  4. Mom on April 23, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    That was a beautiful eulogy to Axel, Nise. I know how much you loved him and feel your pain. Love, Mom

  5. Karen Anne on April 24, 2009 at 5:44 am

    I am so sorry…

  6. Lisa on April 24, 2009 at 9:36 am

    I am so very sorry for your loss. Axel looks much like my Milo and your story today brought tears to my eyes. I’m sure you made the right decision, as hard as it was. You were very brave.

    Take care,

    P.S I will have a little something on my blog to remember Axel too.

  7. Christa on April 26, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    I am so sorry- I think people that are not pet owners do not realize how much they are part of our lives. I have had to make the same decision on more than one occasion and every time I cry. At least your little buddy went with you, and knew you loved him. Thats all any of us can ask, isn’t it? R.I.P.

    By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,
    Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.
    Where the friends of man and woman do run,
    When their time on earth is over and done.

    For here, between this world and the next,
    Is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.
    On this golden land, they wait and they play,
    Till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.

    No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,
    For here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.
    Their limbs are restored, their health renewed,
    Their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.

    They romp through the grass, without even a care,
    Until one day they start, and sniff at the air.
    All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,
    Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.

    For just at that instant, their eyes have met;
    Together again, both person and pet.
    So they run to each other, these friends from long past,
    The time of their parting is over at last.

    The sadness they felt while they were apart,
    Has turned into joy once more in each heart.
    They embrace with a love that will last forever,
    And then, side-by-side, they cross over… together.

    © 1998 Steve and Diane Bodofsky. All Rights Reserved.

  8. Nicole on April 28, 2009 at 11:30 am

    I’m so sorry. And I’m so sorry to be so tardy in reading this. I purposely put it off because I think I knew what it would say and it wasn’t that long ago that I was in your shoes. (I’m still wincing when I see an empty downstairs window …)

    You really did all you could and you made the right choice. BIG BIG hugs as you go through this.

  9. denise on May 1, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    a very heartfelt “thank you” to all. I know so many of you have experienced a pet loss like ours and I really appreciate the support.

  10. casacaudill on May 2, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    I’m so, so sorry. Axel knew you loved him, I am sure. It’s so hard to lose a pet, especially when you think they’ve turned a corner and are on the road to wellness.

  11. bungalowbliss on May 5, 2009 at 8:59 am

    First, let me apologize for not seeing this (and responding) sooner. I’ve been terribly remiss in my blog stalking as of late…

    Second, my heart breaks for you. Little Man Axel knows you loved him dearly and knows you had only his best interests at heart. I know it’s one of the hardest things ever…nothing prepares you for it, and your grieving is not something to be rushed. I wish there was something to say to ease your pain.

    Sending you hugs,

  12. Kristin on May 7, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    I read your blog from time to time and just saw your post about Axel. I am crying. I have three cats and just cannot imagine how hard this was for you. My parents had to have our family cat put to sleep a few years ago, and it was devastating. But it was more difficult to watch her continue to suffer. You did the right thing. I just wanted to extend my sympathy to you. May Axel rest in peace.

  13. Gayle on October 22, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    I have a passion for restoration of old homes and just found your blog and am enjoying it immensely. But as a cat doctor stories like Axel’s always make me sad. There’s only so much we can do, and in the end we always lose our kitties.

    But you gave it your best shot and did everything you could. It was just his time.

    Now I have to go off and cry.

    • denise on November 1, 2012 at 12:56 pm

      Hi Gayle–
      Thanks for reading! I still miss my boys. I’m hoping to find the perfect spot in our yard to bury their ashes. Maybe next summer.

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