Because you have been following his journey, I’m writing to share the painful news that Matt and I had to put our fearless feline Sponge Bob down Friday night. This was very sudden and our hearts are shattered, but we know it was the best thing for him as it turns out he was actually very sick.
While both the shelter we adopted him from and the doctor at our first vet visit gave him a clean bill of health, they were missing something serious. On Friday afternoon, our vet discovered a large mass in Sponge’s chest that had actually pushed his heart out of place and was putting pressure on his lungs. This mass was not detectable during his last x-ray less than two weeks ago, which tells you just how fast it was growing.
We had taken Sponge to the vet about two weeks ago to figure out why he was having coughing fits (but never coughing anything up). After some antibiotics and a number of tests they determined that he had asthma. He was prescribed some steroids and an inhaler, which we were giving to him every day. He seemed to be doing great. Only one day of coughing in about two weeks. We felt comfortable leaving him at home while we took our planned vacation to Austin, and found a licensed cat sitter to come to our apartment once a day while we were gone. She gave us daily reports and said he was breathing just fine.
The problems came once we got home late Wednesday night. While he seemed normal the first 30 minutes we were home, Sponge quickly started breathing fast and heavy, like we’ve never seen him do. His spirits were fine and he was clearly happy we were home, but his breathing was definitely off. We did some research online and decided to monitor his breaths per minute. We realized he was getting close to the danger zone, so I called an emergency vet who asked us lots of questions and determined he would be okay overnight as long as his breaths per minute didn’t increase. We stayed up with him until his breathing slowed and he fell asleep, then took him to our vet as soon as they opened Thursday morning.
They took him in right away, put him in an oxygenated crate, and told us Thursday night that they were confident this was just seasonal asthma mixed with the stress of us having been away. They said they wanted to see him through this episode so they kept him overnight. On Friday we got a call that he really wasn’t improving as well as they’d hoped and they were going to do some more x-rays. Then they called us to the office to talk about what they found.
The mass was surrounding his heart and pushing it to the wrong side. It was also putting pressure on his lungs, which is why he was having trouble breathing. They told us that if untreated he would likely not make it through the weekend. He was having trouble catching his breath when he wasn’t on oxygen. In terms of possible treatment, they would need to do a biopsy and operate to remove the mass whether it was malignant or not. As overweight as he is, the anesthesia alone could very likely kill him and the series of procedures would have cost us more than $10k.
After asking lots of questions and weighing all of our options, we made the difficult yet informed decision to put him down. Surgery was a very risky option for him, and we didn’t want to put him through the stress of that with such great chances that it would not work and he would be in a worse condition, or that he would die in surgery and we wouldn’t be there. After making the call we spent some quality time alone with him and we were in the room holding him when he was put down.
This has been one of the hardest things I have ever experienced, and certainly the most difficult thing Matt and I have had to endure as a couple. I’m sure it’s evident to all of you that we treated Sponge like he was our first baby. We loved this cat so tremendously and had so many plans for him as part of our family. We hadn’t had him for long, but we had already dreamed about him being around in the future.
I’m sure most of you have experienced the loss of a pet — we just know so many people were rooting for Sponge all along so we wanted you to know what’s happened. This aggressive mass ironically had nothing to do with his size, but because of his weight surgery turned out to be the more dangerous option. It’s a horrible feeling to know we couldn’t help him, when that’s the whole reason we brought him into our home and family in the first place.
As profoundly sad as we are, we can only try to focus on how much love we were able to give him during his last couple of months. We gave him a family, we gave him room to run around, and we showered him with love all the way to the end.
He was so affectionate and lovable, the perfect companion — and he gave us so much more than we could ever have given him.
Thank you for all the excitement you shared with us during our time with Sponge. We know he will be mourned by all those rooting for him, and we’ve been so lucky to have your support along this journey.
xx - court + matt