Monday, July 16, 2012

Greetings From The Feline Cardiac Unit

So Jimmy Jimmereeno (You can thank Salinger for that name), our fantabulous rescued kitten, who apparently lived for part of one brutal winter hunkered behind the storage barrels in our side yard before we discovered him and then lured him into our family with untold cans of Little Friskies, is not going to live to be an elderly cat. Or a middle aged one. Or even a teenaged cat tear-assing around the yard and threatening all manner of winged wildlife. Saturday, we found out that the typical heat-related malaise that he was exhibiting was actually fluid in his gut, an impacted bowel and breathing problems brought on by an advanced case of heart disease. I'm only being sarcastic to keep from crying, which we've done plenty of this weekend.

Jimmy stayed overnight at the animal spa vet clinic where he suffered untold medical indignities (catheterization, enema, injections, and the shaving of his upper paws --do cats have wrists?--to facilitate the iv needle) in the interest of evaluating his status, though we were told he did enjoy the oxygen chamber and was the best "pill taker" they'd ever had. Like Judy Garland or Elvis? That kind of pill taker?  Unfortunately, we'll never know for sure...though he did return home from his $1,400.00 hospital stay and immediately crawled behind the toilet in the guest bathroom to it seems a likely scenario. The shaved parts give the appearance that he's wearing fancy mittens. And? He's got fleas.

It's not like I'm being nostalgic for what life with an old cat would have been like. God, no! The onset of kitty cataracts, the surprise! pool of vomit in my shoe, skin conditions featuring uncontrollable shedding and scabbing, deafness, arthritis, reflux, dementia and incontinence. I've lived with an old cat before. And it's not about the fact that he won't live to reproduce. His balls were *cough* relieved of their baby making essences, so he was never going to be a father anyway. I think he's okay with it.

It's because he's the best damn cat we've ever had. He's sweet and personable and almost human in his communication abilities. He's the kind of rescued animal who knows he was one snowflake away from certain wintery death and was visibly grateful for the life he had with us. But now he sits and stares at the wall all bereft-like and wheezes a little. He takes three kinds of meds four times a day. Two are for his heart because now--without warning--a moment of unexpected surprise, stress or even an especially upsetting episode of Animal Planet might cause him to suffer a tiny myocardial infarction and die. Or simply lose the use of his back legs which will require us to purposefully end what is left of his time with us at the vet's office.

I'm not one of those people who believes that pets are the same thing as children, so don't expect me to ask about your dog's Petsmart bills when we're talking about the high cost of sending kids to college. They aren't the same thing at all. The loss of a child is horrific and sad and....unnatural...even though it happens. Parents don't expect to outlive the kids they brought to the planet, and mostly? They don't. The loss of a pet is...well...the loss of a pet. It's expected (eventually) and normal... but they are still precious family members whose presence brings quality to life.  And one, I might add, they will never grow up enough or be old enough to be independent from you. Their trust in your abilities to make them happy, healthy and comfortable makes this situation incredibly hard. So the decision to end their suffering still feels like murder-- while not ending it seems like you're just submitting them to misery. You-- and they--are royally screwed either way.

Jimmy's life expectancy? Somewhere between a few days to a few months. A really sad span of time where we get to watch him sit at the glass door and see the rest of the world having fun. A "little boy" cat with an old man's ticker. It's so unfair.

In the meantime, my youngest son thoughtfully brought home three Western Coachwhip eggs from camp. To put it musically? "My baloney has a first name, it's  S-N-A-K-E".  An unexpected hatching episode would definitely affect my heart in a negative way, but--truthfully? It is already broken.


  1. I know exactly what you mean about losing a pet. It's not a child, nowhere near a child (or parent or friend or any other human), but it's hard. Very hard.

    I'm sorry.

  2. Oh, hell.

    Cats are just the best, and I say this having owned four (not all at once), but never losing sight that they are CATS, not children. I don't refer to myself as Their Mommy or anything creepycatlady like that.

    Sam, our youngest (24), rescued a cat who turned out to have feline leukemia. Madden seemed to thrive, then suddenly just declined rapidly. All Sam could do was, quite simply, watch him die an agonizing death. He had Madden for only 8 months, but as you know, it was plenty long enough to become attached. The end was horrific.

    I wrote innumerable bitching posts about my previous two cats, Emily and Travis, even how I used to threaten them with The Needle for their constant infractions, shedding, vomiting, etc. But when we lost them both, I was inconsolable. And a few years later, I rescued two more, and I couldn't feel more content to have cats in the house again. Is there shedding? Holy crap, yes. Is there yakking up? Sigh. And vet bills...aarrgghh. But the addition of their companionship and goofy little personalities are very much worth it.

    Bless your heart for its care and concern for your little guy. I know you will continue to make his stay here one of comfort and love.

  3. Sigh. You know me: I cannot NOT correct this. "But the addition of their companionship and goofy little personalities are very much worth it" should be "But the addition of their companionship and goofy little personalities IS very much worth it."

    Subject-verb agreement. Sorry.

  4. Oh, honey. I'm so sorry. It's so unfair, especially when you are just getting to know each other.

    I appreciate Jimmy's style - hiding behind the toilet after veterinary indignities sounds just about right. I've felt like that before.

  5. I'm sorry too. It's hard enough to contemplate losing an elderly cat, but losing a young one that should have lots of time with you is doubly unfair.

  6. Aww, very sad for Jimmy and for his catrents. Should you go that route, you must, must think of the decision as ending his mysery, a very kind act. I say this when I've never been in your shoes. Always lost pets to car accidents or run aways (and once a coyote).

    On another note, I'm surprised he's so sociable. That's encouraging. I'd heard kittens have a critical imprinting age .. somewhere around 4-8 weeks? And if not bonded with humans they aren't likely to. But your guy proved it's possible. Good to know.


Be nice. It's not as hard as it sounds.