Good evening, thank you for your question. I am so very sorry to hear that you and your companion have gone through such a rough time. It's obvious you feel guilty about this, but you should not. When I read your question, I can tell that you are a very concerned owner and that you did everything asked of you. If there was a test your vet wanted to run, you had them run it. You wanted answers just as much as they did. And you went so far as to have a feeding tube placed to try to help get your baby through his illness.
One thing it doesn't sound like anyone told you is that steroids can help IBD, but they can also cause a lot of issues. In many cases, when pets are critical, it can give us time---but it does not buy us much. I have dealt with feline IBD in my own household since 2008 and there's one thing that I can tell you which is common with almost every IBD case that I've had: steroids may help, but they aren't magic. IBD is a major disorder and those cats commonly develop GI lymphoma. Those cats who are actively in the throes of an IBD flare may well have already developed GI lymphoma. Once this happens, cats are on a steady downward spiral no matter what we do. IBD has a tendency to creep up and we works so hard treating it that it's hard to know when we've done all we could do. Most IBD cats suffer from a wide array of symptoms which most often include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, refusal to eat, weightloss, etc. Steroids often improve stool quality, but they don't fix the major issues that are underlying. They simply cause the body to not respond in such a drastic manner. If this is a case of, then, GI lymphoma...you may see some short term improvements, but it's not going to be a fix that gives a cat back his life during which time he's going to be symptom-free and go back to youthful vigor. Steroids buy time. IBD is a battle for both a cat and an owner. It involves chronically monitoring stool, ensuring that those who are watching him are aware of what needs to be done, ensuring no food or treats are given which might cause a flare, etc. In a case where you have other cats in the household (or, heaven forbid, young kids who might drop yummy bits of food), it can be a nightmare which leaves owners in the hospital each week with a new concern for their cat. Like all chronic disease and cancer, it's absolutely not fair to the pet and not fair to the owner. The care is mentally, emotionally, financially and physically exhausting.
Having said that, unrefrigerated food likely had absolutely nothing to do with your companion's passing. There are many chemicals added to food to keep them storeable at room temperature, for long periods of time. Foods, once exposed to the air, will begin to degrade but this doesn't happen in a matter of hours. In most cases, it takes days. So if you were using food in the evening that was left out from the morning, this is still not reason to believe that it alone caused his passing. It's more likely that IBD took such a heavy toll on his body that eventually it was simply time. When an animal passes, we can see strickening of the body which is commonly seen as convulsions to the untrained eye. During this time, some pets will empty the contents of their stomach, as well (this happens in humans too). This is all normal.
One thing I will tell you from 15+ years in the field is that no matter how much love, money and dedication you have...sometimes you just cannot save them. Believe me, if pets survived alone on their owner's will to keep them alive...there'd be some super old, and very well loved, pets still hanging around with their mournful owners to this day. You cannot allow yourself to feel like an injection or a meal had such a sway that it would have tipped the balance of life or death one direction or another. Once you've reached the point of doing those little extra things to try to give them a leg up to TRY to get better, you're already past the curve and, in many cases, giving a pet a last chance to rally. Please do not beat yourself up emotionally because your companion passed. I can tell you that he was one lucky boy who had a super dedicated owner who loved him very much. There aren't many cats out there who get such a stroke of luck as to secure an owner who literally is willing to battle with and for them until they say it's time. As someone who is also like this, I can tell you that I completely understand the willingness to blame yourself. Ultimately, we don't have that final sayso. Life is finite and we don't hold that magic key to keep our pets here forever. And perhaps that is best, ***** ***** never feels like it at the time. I, too, have had to come to terms with realizing that their passing today may well have been much easier on them than a passing in the future, if things were worse. That allows me to rest confident in knowing that I did all I could for a pet...and that's exactly what you did here too. His passing was not for your lack of trying. He died because it was his time.
If it's of any consolation, every pet owner goes through loss. Here's a page that may help you to deal with the many emotions that come from losing such a beloved companion: http://www.petloss.com/
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