Tuesday, September 30, 2008

To All the Pets I've Loved Before

This will be a sad posting. Treble has passed away. :(

It started about a month ago, as mentioned in a prior post. Treble didn't eat 3 meals in one day, which was totally unlike him, as those of you who have met him know. He was a black cat and I fed him in the bathroom, and he would wait in there in the dark and when someone went in to use the bathroom he would go, "MEOROWWWWW!!!!!" and scare the poo out of them. I found out a year ago that Mandy and Kevin had been feeding him anytime they went to the bathroom at my house, because they were intimidated by him. :)

We did some bloodwork and his glucose was slightly elevated, but everything else was fine. Normal temperature, good teeth and eyes, no palpable lumps or bumps, heart sounded good, etc. The vet said to try him on a diabetic cat food and if he wouldn't eat it we'd see about using an oral medication or insulin shots, depending on how his glucose did. Well, he didn't like the food so I went out and got him several kinds of canned cat food to tempt his tummy.

This seemed to work, and his appetite returned and he again came running to the food bowl at feeding time. We tried traditional loaf style, chunks and bits, organic, and finally settled on our favorite, Meow Mix varieties. He loved the fish, loved the beef, loved the chunks of chicken. He played. He came for affection and slept on the bed with the dog and me. The vet said canned was better for him than dry because it had more protein.

But then after a couple of weeks, his appetite started to dip again. He would not eat the entire serving of food. He wasn't cleaning his paws anymore. He would join us on the bed sporadically. I decided to take him back in and have the glucose tested again. So Saturday we went in and had blood drawn. The vet said his glucose was still slightly elevated, but the thing that troubled her was that his potassium was quite low. Potassium affects everything in the body, especially the musculature, which is why diabetic cats sometimes have weakness in their rear legs - and of course it also affects the heart's ability to pump and the lungs' abilities to breathe. She prescribed potassium for him and said if the low potassium was the problem, I would notice a definite change by Monday.

But the deterioration was rapid. He ate a bit on Saturday, but by Sunday morning I had to force feed him. I had to use a dropper to give him water. He was having difficulty walking and by Sunday night he could hardly stand up. I could tell that he desperately wanted to drink because he kept going to the water dish, but he didn't seem to be able to drink. He meowed a couple of times, frustrated, I think. He threw up in the middle of the night and again in the morning. I took his box from the computer room - he'd always liked boxes and I'd put a pillow in this one and put it behind my chair at the computer desk, and he always slept in it when he was healthy - and I put him inside. He remained in exactly the position I'd placed him and I drove him to the vet's office like that and he didn't move at all.

They put him on fluids with potassium in the IV and settled him in ICU on a heating pad. I visited him in the afternoon on Monday and he had enough strength to turn around with his back to me. He wouldn't close his eyes. I think he was annoyed with my hovering. I petted him and told him what a good kitty he'd always been, and I cried. The doctor didn't know if he would make it through the night, but hoped that if he did we might be able to do an ultrasound to see if we could find anything operable.

But by Tuesday morning, she said she was not encouraged. His condition had not changed. She said we could do an ultrasound, but at this point it would probably be more of a fact-finding exercise than anything else. I went in mid-morning and they brought him to me wrapped in a blanket. I held him and cried and petted him. I told him I was sorry. I said I loved him and he'd always been the best boy, never a health problem, never a scare of any kind. He was shy and sweet and gentle.

I put him on the table and smoothed him out, petted him from head to tip of the tail, arranged his whiskers. I gave him kisses. Then the vet came in and administered the drug to stop his heart. I wanted to be with him and I didn't want him to suffer. It might have been a matter of hours or days, but it would have been a wasting away, gradually starving to death, and I just didn't want to do that to him. There was no way to tell if he was in pain or not, and when he'd been trying so hard to drink I felt like he was fighting but when he crawled into the corner of the cage and turned his back to me, I felt like he was trying to disappear to die alone, as cats try to do.

I'm just devastated about this. Treble was 15 years old and I'd had him since he was 6 weeks old. He was with me through my marriage to Scott, after the divorce when we lived in a terrible little apartment, in a rental and our current home when I was with Mitch. He made it through Mitch's horrible departure and didn't exhibit any signs of lasting trauma even though it took us three hours to find him when we returned to the house that night and found the mess Mitch had left behind. He liked Kevin. He was there with me when I worked at the animal hospital, when I worked part time at Wicks-N-Sticks and Kohl's, when I worked for the secretarial service, and since I've worked at the library. He was a comfort to me when I was sad, when my grandparents died, when my circle of friends changed. He was a constant, a calm and steady presence, silly at times with his tail kinked as he ran through the house, quietly purring as I suddenly realized there was a cat sitting on my lap and wondered how long he'd been there. When Hollie died, I still had Treble. Now all my baby kitties are gone and all the serene cat energy has left my home.

I got Treble and his littermate Lily when I worked at the animal hospital, the first year Scott and I were married. We already had MacGuyver, an Italian Greyhound we'd adopted when his owner decided he was too big for his breed and could not be a show dog anymore. He'd always lived in a kennel and at 2 1/2 years, he had an arrogant little prance and lifted his leg on everything. Mom and I thought he should have been named Poindexter or something else appropriately nerdy, and we could imagine him in a little doggie bowtie. He loved his sweaters and was so happy when we got a new one for him and made a fuss over how handsome he was. Dad called him Gucci dog, because he looked so refined, and from that came Gooch Pooch, our favorite nickname for him.

I had always wanted a black cat and one of the hospital's clients had two cats that had just had litters and one had a black kitten. I was not impressed with treble when I met him. He was very shy and didn't know how to be held. His sister Lily was much more personable and loved to be cuddled. I took them both home with me and they were perfect playmates for MacGuyver.

We went on for a few weeks and then lily started to exhibit symptoms of something being wrong. I knew another cat in the house had FIP, which is an untreatable disease that affects cats in the brain, heart, or lungs. The cat had been affected in its lungs and the owners were bringing it in every day to have the fluid drained so the cat could breathe. They tried to keep it alive as long as they could but in the end, with no possible cure, mounting medical bills, and a cat who had to fight for each breath, they finally decided to euthanize.

Lily was diagnosed with FIP shortly thereafter. It affected her brain. She started trying to eat kitty litter, cried if you put her on her back, and became unable to walk. It was horrible; she was so tiny, only a couple months old. She was the first pet I ever had to put to sleep.

We waited a couple of months to make sure Treble wasn't sick and when the vet said we had passed the danger we started thinking about getting another cat. I always felt there should be two cats. Around that time I gave notice at the animal hospital, and on my last day there was introduced to a kitten who had been discovered on a country road with a wound in her neck. The people who found her had brought her in to be euthanized, thinking her constant meowing was a sign of her pain, but the vet said she was in perfect health except for a grub in the wound on her neck, which he removed. He asked the couple if it was all right with them if he tried to find her a home and they said yes. The other receptionists were calling her Grub. I decided to name her Hollie.

Hollie was a beautiful long-haired calico. My friend Wes once said of her that she was not as pretty as she thought she was. :) She did consider herself to be a princess. She liked to balance on my shoulders while I walked through the house, and it was her special treat to ride upstairs on a freshly-laundered basket of warm clothes. When she was a kitten, she would play outside the bedroom door at night and swat a penny down the wooden staircase, then bring it back up and swat it down again. I went into the hall and took it away from her. The next night she was swatting something down the stairs and when I went out in the hall to take it away, she had moved about three feet from it and was looking at me sweetly and purring - she knew I was going to take it away and she was trying to divert my attention! When she was older, I would put the cat treats in a drawer in the kitchen and come home to find the cabinet door under the drawer open and the drawer pushed out from inside, and the cat treats gone from their sealed bag.

Hollie and Treble and MacGuyver were the best of friends. When Scott and I got divorced, he did not want to keep any of the animals because of the responsibility, and I wanted to keep all of them but could not afford to move to an apartment where I could keep three pets, and there were other issues with trying to keep MacGuyver as he would bark when left alone. Mom and Dad adopted Gooch, and though it was difficult at first for all of us to adjust, pretty soon he had a special corner cushion on the couch and his own pile of blankets, which my dad instructed me how to cocoon MacGuyver with. They fed him grapes and orange sections and bought him squeaky toys - he always knew when they had one in a grocery sack - and lots of cute little sweaters to keep him warm. He liked to nestle under blankets until he'd come out panting from the warmth, and he would howl along with you while you sang.

Mom and Dad were still caring for MacGuyver when he started to become ill and eventually when he passed away. I visited him every Sunday and he was always the big-eyed, nervous, affectionate little Gooch Pooch. He would chase his tail until he became dizzy, then grin at you. He was a determined squirrel-hunter (though he never caught anything). He would cry at the first sight of the nail trimmer, before anyone had even touched a paw.

Hollie passed away two years ago. She'd eaten a large chunk of black nylabone that Logan had chewed and left on the floor. The vet said he didn't know how she'd managed to swallow it. They did x-rays and saw the blockage and did surgery to remove it. A month later she started having the same symptoms - not eating, throwing up, losing weight - but this time when they did an x-ray they found a stomach mass. It had not been present on the x-rays a month before, and in that short time cancer had developed. I often wonder if somehow she felt it or sensed it, and if she ate the piece of nylabone in an effort to get the cancer out or to bring it to our attention. It just seemed too coincidental.

These were my pets throughout my adult life. They would greet me when I arrived home, snuggle with me at night, cheer me when I was down. They were with me through so many things, always loving, never judgmental. They will always have a piece of my heart.

And, hopefully, you won't find the fact that I've added a poem to be too cheesy. I thought this particular poem fit the occasion well.

Cat Poem

They will not go quietly,
the cats who've shared our lives.
In subtle ways they let us know
their spirit still survives.
Old habits still make us think
we hear a meow at the door.
Or step back when we drop
a tasty morsel on the floor.
Our feet still go around the place
the food dish used to be,
And, sometimes, coming home at night,
we miss them terribly.
And although time may bring new friends
and a new food dish to fill,
That one place in our hearts
belongs to them. . . and always will.

by Linda Barnes

8 comments:

Edith said...

Sarai, I am so sorry to read that Treble passed away. He was a real sweetie and I know you will miss him fiercely. Please let me know if there's anything I can do to help take your mind off things. E.

Carly said...

Oh Sarai, I'm sorry that you lost your good friend.

Matthew said...

Sarai, I just cried when I read this. Treble was such a good kitty. I remember when you got him and have seen him grow over the years. He was always nice and funny to watch as he played. I'm really glad I got to see him the other weekend before he passed. I'm sending good thoughts your way!
Matty

mrssnowqueen said...

Sarai, I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. Reading your blog made me tear up. You have such love for your animals, which I can respect. Wishing you all the best.

Sarai said...

Thank you all for your understanding and support. I was cleaning out the litter boxes and bagging up the leftover food for Mom's cats last night and it was just depressing. And the house seems so quiet! I think even Logan was catching on because he looked puzzled and concerned when I was emptying the litter into trash bags.

I am adding a couple more comments I have received via e-mail.

***
Hi Sarai,

I'm so sorry about Treble. I understand how you feel. Our pets are family members, even sweeter than a lot of our people family members. I grieved over my little silver poodle a couple of years ago and still think of her and just want to cry when I remember what a sweet little girl she was and how her joy was in pleasing me. What a blessing they are to our lives.

Rosie

***
Very sorry to hear it, Sarai. I'm thinking of you!
-Katie

***
Awww Kido.. sorry to hear about the loss.. been there and had to do that so I know what you are going through..

Cheer up and all I can say to MAYBE cheer you up is.. It gets better….

Roger Cherni

***
My deepest condolences. Treble was a great cat. Know that my tears are
added to the river that flows for him. Losing a pet companion is always hard, but it is a fact that in the normal course of events we outlive them, and how we face that fact and what we learn from it can make us better people and better companions for our future four legged friends.

As I write this, Raven is being very silly, playing with a quart sports drink bottle I dropped while taking an armload to the recycling before checking the email this morning. Usually she just follows me around with her ball, getting me to toss it as much as she can before I have to
leave for work, but today the ball is forgotten in the joy of a new (and very temporary) toy (it's almost destroyed already). The bottle has become tug-of-war toy, chase toy, she's tossing it around like a puppy, pouncing on it when it squirts out of her grasp. It reminds me of how devastated I was when Abby finally succumbed to her medical problems and how sudden it was at the end - but it also reminds me of how much joy there is in all the other animal companions you have yet to meet.

May you be comforted by your friends and companions (no matter how many legs they have); be surrounded by the love and life-joy they offer, even while you grieve for one no longer with you.

Mike

***
Sarai,
I am just so sorry. I'm crying so hard I can hardly type.
Let me know how your doing.
Denise

***
I'm so sorry. I know how hard it is to lose a beloved pet. Hugs.

Lisa

***

Sarai said...

More comments from friends...

Hi Sarai,
I am So sorry to hear about Treble! Absolutely nothing I say will make you feel any better, so I will offer a sympathetic hug.
Next time I'm at Main.

Hang in there, our little friends mean a lot to us.
lisa/TSS
* * *

Sorry to hear about Treble! I had my dog Molly for 12 years and had to have her put down last year. hard!

Jeannie
* * *

I'm so sorry to hear about your kitty. :( I'll be thinking of you.

Sara

Sarai said...

Another comment. Thank you again for all your support!

* * *

I'm very sorry about the recent loss of your pet. Take care of yourself!

I will always have a place in my heart for cats, and especially the
cute/cuddley black ones. I was crying about 1/2 way through your pet blog remembrance. The pics of Treble on the stairs post are great. Such a shiny, happy coat of black fur and bundle of love and adventure! :)

Treble was my favorite cat to visit at your homes!

--Michael Rabe

Janet said...

I am so sorry about Treble and even more sorry it took me so long to find out. I cried as I read this. You were a great Mommy to him and your other babies. I am glad you have some new kitties and Logan to still love.