Hospice Care Eases the End for Loyal Pets

Nursing a terminally ill pet can be exhausting, especially for elderly owners or those who work full-time. But Kenneth Koch of Modesto, Calif., doesn't regret the three years he spent caring for his cat, Midnight.

Adopted by Koch nearly two decades earlier, the black domestic shorthair had chronic renal failure, among other illnesses. Injections, intravenous treatments and a regimen of six different pills quickly became part of Koch's daily routine.

Around the same time, the furniture maker quit his job to provide around-the-clock care at home for his elderly parents, both stricken with Alzheimer's.

"In their time of need, I couldn't turn my back on them, just like Midnight," he said. "I'm just not built that way."

Koch, 52, hoped Midnight would pass away peacefully at home, but because of complications that ensued from changing a feeding tube, she died in 2007 at a nearby animal hospital.

Still, Koch affirmed his decision to provide hospice care for Midnight. And he would do it all again -- even spending $12,000 for treatments, which has left him in debt, for the young stray that showed up on his back porch all those years ago.

"She was such a big part of my life," said Koch. "I was just giving back for all the love she gave to me."

More information

To read more about mourning the passing of a pet, go to the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement.

SOURCES: Kathryn Marocchino, founder, Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets, Vallejo, Calif.; Sharen Meyers, Synergy Animal Hospice, Bend, Oregon; Kenneth Koch, Modesto, Calif.

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