Take Good Care

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it yet, but while my in-laws were here to visit the new baby, it was decided that our dog Newton would stay behind and live with us again (he went to live with them 8 or so years ago because Brien’s allergies had gotten so bad, but he’s since had shot therapy for it).

Anyway, when we bought our house it had a few doggie doors installed already. And since Newton was used to having a doggie door at my in-laws’ place, we thought it might be best, especially at night, if he were able to let himself in and out. We wondered what the kitties would do, but gave it a shot.

Mostly, the kitties just went in and out, explored the yard, and basked in the sun. But then, Coco left. I mean, she LEFT. She’s been gone for DAYS now, so many, I’ve lost track. And I put a post on our neighborhood mailing list, and a few people say they’ve seen her around (at least they think it’s her, this kitty matches my description).

I know life has been hectic around here, with the new kitten last fall, and the reintroduction of the dog, and the new baby, and the boys just generally being crazy, so I get that she was stressed. But she always cuddled with me when she could. I never thought she’d leave.

coco 1

And of course my anxiety has me thinking the craziest things. Namely, is she trying to make her way back to San Francisco? Not to get all Homeward Bound on you, but animals have done crazier things under much less stressful circumstances.

And I’m so worried for her. What if she can’t find water in this heat? What if she runs into a coyote/javelina/other cat? She’s too old to fight like she used to, but she’ll try. Where will she end up? In another home? Will they think she’s young because she’s small? Will they think she’s too old and have her put down? My mind is a mess.

Anyway, it’s been making me think of this Cat Stevens song, and I’m sorry if I make you cry, but dammit.

 

Farewell, Old Friend

A week ago today, when we went to bed, I noticed my 19 year old cat wasn’t feeling well. He hadn’t been feeling well for some time, having bad kidneys and sore joints and just overall being old. But, something was off. He was moving really slowly, seemed anxious and wasn’t acting like himself.

The next afternoon, we went to the vet, who didn’t like the looks of him at all. He’d been dropping weight pretty steadily for the past few years. One tenth of a pound here, two tenths there, he was hovering in the area of 7 pounds the last time we were in. On Thursday, he was 4.7 pounds. As soon as I heard that, my heart dropped. I was in mega denial, but a part of me knew this was it.

His gums were pale, he wasn’t controlling his bowels or bladder very well, he had stopped eating, and he was weak and lethargic. She took some blood just to see where his kidney levels were, gave him some drugs to make him comfortable for the night, and told me she’d call in the morning with results.

I knew the results would be bad. The vet wasn’t hopeful, and couldn’t even pretend to be hopeful to help me feel better. So, when she called with the bad news, she said it was probably a good time to put him down. Especially since we had plans to leave town for the weekend: “You might not even have a live cat to come home to if you left him there. It’s that bad.”

I made an appointment for 3:50. And I tried to fit in some snuggles, but the hours seemed to fly by. Suddenly it was time to leave.

I didn’t bring him in a carrier, we thought bringing home an empty carrier would be too much. Instead I wrapped him in an old towel, and snuggled him for the car ride. I didn’t let him go at all, except when they put in the IV. I held him to the end.

The vet cried with us, and then she said, “I know it’s hard, but you did the right thing.”

And I know I did. But, I felt bad for choosing for him when his life would end. I don’t know, it’s strange. Of course I didn’t want him to suffer anymore, but some part of me wishes his body would have given out on its own first.

Anyway, here I am without my kitty that I had since I was 14. I can hardly remember a time without him. I knew this was coming. I mean, I started writing this post a year ago for Pete’s sake. But still, it comes as such a shock.

How can I even begin to describe to anyone the relationship I had with him? All I can tell you is that we were together for nearly 20 years. The most exciting / tumultuous / important 20 years of my life: half of my teens, all of my 20s and part of my 30s. I went to high school, graduated high school, went to college, got married, graduated college, moved halfway across the country and had children, and my kitty was with me for all of it. Graduations, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, celebrations, mournings, everything, my buddy was there.

That’s all I can tell you. And maybe you can feel 5% of how I feel about it. There are a lot of jokes and cliches out there about cat owners, and how crazy they are about their cats, and how they can turn into crazy cat people if left unchecked. But seriously, I would hope even the non-cat people could understand the idea of a constant companion, that adores you and wants nothing more than food and kindness from you (and, okay, they want you to scoop their turds), by your side for two full decades. Watching them go from bouncy little kitten to slow elderly gentleman seemingly overnight, which your brain can’t even process because in comparison, you yourself have not really aged all that much.

I had minor foot surgery when I was 15. The first few days of recovery were painful, and I was on some heavy-duty drugs which made me want to do nothing but sleep, and eventually nothing but vomit. Kitty, who I’d only had about a year at that point, was by my side the whole time. I mean, yes, I’m sure he got up to eat and stuff, but every time I managed to open my eyes and look around, there he was, a warm little fuzz ball curled up next to me. And that was him, always there, always offering a snuggle. Or a head-butt, he gave the best head-butts.

There was a period of about a year and a half between me leaving home for college and me getting my own place and being able to bring Nashua there to live with me (well, the landlord was a lot more clueless than my discerning R.A. so I brought him to live there even though looking back I’m sure I could have gotten my ass kicked out on the street). I missed him like hell and it was so fun finally having him back in my everyday life. After he’d been there only a few weeks, I remember running out the door in a rush to go meet up with some friends at one of the local bars, and when I got outside, I could see him looking out the window at me and I actually felt really bad for leaving him behind. And I made a mental note to always be there for him, and to be responsible so I could always be there. Original kid, I tell you.

And now, there’s a big space where he used to be. The house is so quiet, my lap is so empty. It’s hard to get used to. Bedtime is the worst. In the past year or so, I didn’t see much of him during the day. He was old and tired and spent his days sleeping and hiding from the preschooler. But he always came out at night, and when he could muster the energy, he’d hop in bed with us. Even the last night of his life, he snuggled all night on my pillow. Last night as I started to fall asleep, I thought I felt the familiar weight of him on my legs, where he always liked to curl up. This is going to take some getting used to.

I like to imagine him now in his own little slice of Nashua heaven: a huge, green, grassy plain to roam and munch upon; endless sunshine; a person’s open winter coat with the nylon lining to curl up on (he loved sleeping on them); endless supplies of ice cream and frozen waffles to dine upon.

No more rotting teeth, no more upset stomach, no more achy joints, no more dementia. Just a happy kitty again, finally.

I’m trying to remember him back in the day, when he didnt feel like a bag of marbles when you pet or held him, when he would run and jump and play with abandon, when he still had the energy to purr. That’s how I see him in his kitty heaven, or wherever those blessed pet souls end up at.

YOU GUYS.

Disclaimer: this post may not be for the overly squeamish.

On Monday, my second fur baby Velcro (aka Outdoor Kitty for my Twitter peeps) had to undergo last minute surgery. So not what this mama wanted to put her through.

She’s been an outdoor kitty for about a year now, at my husband’s insistence. She was a stray when we found her, and she was always trying to sneak out, so finally we let her go. And she’s super happy, but also she gets herself into some jams.

For instance, about 5 months ago, she came home with a bleeding hole on her abdomen. HOLE. Not into her belly or anything, it just went under the skin, but A HOLE. A BLEEDING HOLE. We monitored it for a few days, and eventually it healed up, no big whoop.

So, last Thursday when she came home and looked like she was smuggling two golf balls in her cheek, I was slightly worried, but not overly so. I kept an eye on her, and she seemed ok. She went back outside on Friday morning, and when she came back the golf balls were gone. DONE, I thought. But oh how wrong I was.

When the wound had first drained, I could see a couple of little tears in her skin that I figured would heal up. On Sunday? She had a 2 inch full-on open wound and we could see her face muscles inside. We figured she’d need some stitches.

Veterinarian: Well, she’s got some infected tissue that will have to be removed, and she’s got some granular tissue that will also have to be removed, and I highly recommend surgery.

Shit.

Shit, not only because, I’m not sure if you non-pet people realize this but, THE VET IS FLIPPING EXPENSIVE. Shit, also because hello, it’s almost Christmas. Yeah, I wanted an ailing kitty with a cone on her head for Christmas, THANKS, UNIVERSE. And Shit, because my poor little baby girl.

She’s on some heavy duty meds (I had to prove that I was old enough to buy them) so she’s just hanging out in the dog’s old crate, sleeping it off. Today she had some food and water. Poor girl.

I’m still amazed it’s her I’m nursing back to health, and not my ailing, arthritic, senile 17 year old cat (aka Old Man Kitty aka Nashua Beano). If something happens to him anytime soon…Lord help me.