Requiem for two cats

[note: this was formerly on my MySpace blog on this same date ... I'm ditching MySpace for reasons mentioned on 3/16/2010 and copied this here]

So alot of people know about my job, ex-marriage and need to sell my house.

Something I haven't mentioned is that this year I've now lost 2 of my cats. I had 4. I have 2.

If you met them, the ones that passed were Semele (late March), who died at the young age of seven from kidney failure, and Sasquatch, who passed about 30 minutes ago. I'm writing this to help process the stuff tonight and to get my head clear.

Semele is the tabby, Sasquatch is the tortoise shell.

The tragic part is, I'll never know for sure if Semele passing wasn't my fault. You see, I was on vacation for 5 days and when I came home, put my bags in my bathroom, and about 30 minutes later I found Semele pretty well wasting away. 2 days later I found a dried BM in the bathroom that I really don't think was there before I left. Which means she either did it right before I left, right after I got home, or she was locked in the bathroom for the whole time I was gone. I try to account for them all before I leave, but if I made a last minute pit stop she easily would have snuck in.

I spent about a week with her and the vet taking blood, giving her fluids, and trying to force her to eat. She had been through a kidney failure once before when she was 2 (I think she ate something mildly poisonous) and so her system never quite rebounded, so just a little was enough to push her down.

She was possibly the nicest, most polite cat you would ever have known. She wasn't a lap cat more than once a year but she always wanted to be next to you on the sofa or watching over you while you slept. She would clean up messes other cats would make, in and out of the litter box. Most importantly, she was the companion cat for Sasquatch. I don't just mean friends, I mean lovers even though both were female and not sexual. They would spoon together for hours, with Semele flipping over and them "making biscuits" on each others bellies.

Sasquatch didn't mope much when Semele was gone, but she definitely slowed down. About 5 weeks ago she stopped eating much. 3 weeks ago I took her to my Vet and after blood tests he saw that her mouth had very bad gingivitis. I guess that was over with 2 weeks ago. She still wouldn't eat, at most she would lick the gravy off of soft food, so back to the Vet we went. We were able to get quite a bit of food into her, and she would hold more than half of it, but she had stopped eating voluntarily 100% and was starting to not drink water.

A sidebar about my vet. He's perhaps the nicest pet doctor I've had the pleasure of meeting. His wife ranks equally up there with him.

Anyway, today I took her back and a new blood test revealed that she was showing signs of cell death that indicated Lymphoma. She'd probably started way back when I first took her in and had stopped eating both because of the Gingivitis and the Lymphoma.

Anyone who follows dental medicine might be thinking that mouth disease has been linked to cancer. You're right. So there is a chance that if I'd had her dental work kept up to date she wouldn't have gotten sick. There's just as much chance that she would have. Either way, I was able to take care of her, try to help her, and be with her when it was too late. You see, Semele suffered when she died. She was just too far gone. I tried to get her to eat the night she died, then I went to sleep. I found her the next morning in a closet where she curled up to die, the food had come back up while she was asleep.

The rest of this some people may not want to read. Hell, you may not have wanted to read the previous. I will try not to make it upsetting.

So I made the call and asked my Vet about putting her to sleep. But Sasquatch more than my other cats hated the Vet's office. She didn't mind him or his staff, but being in a cage really hurt her feelings. So I asked to have them give me a loaded syringe. They graciously agreed even though I knew they weren't supposed to. I wanted Sasquatch to die where she enjoyed life.

I was going to give her until tomorrow to have a miracle, but she went downhill fast tonight, and was starting to stumble and have a hard time holding her head up. I made the decision that it was time, so I opened the door and she wandered outside, sat on the sidewalk, and let out a pitiful cry a few times. I couldn't do this in the front yard, too many people were wandering by, so I picked her up and walked her to the back yard. I put her down and she laid down immediately, something she would never have done normally (she would have hopped into the yard-high grass and tried to eat it). I gave her the shot.

The shot was 6 CCs of some form of horse tranquilizer. I was warned she would try to vomit and she did, but had nothing to come up. After that she calmed down and let me hold her in my lap as she got weaker. It took her over 30 minutes before she stopped fighting to stand up every few minutes. I carried her up front and we watched the sun go down. After awhile she was mostly comatose but would go into mild seizures every few minutes still, so I laid her next to me. I know she was mostly unconscious, but she would still respond every once in awhile to my petting her, so I eventually stopped so that she would relax. She never stopped moaning. It was a moan like you would expect to come out of a sick baby, not a cat. I've never heard a cat make that noise before. I hope never to again, it was ... plaintive.

After an hour passed and she was still in that state, I called my Vet again. He said he would meet me at the clinic if she was still alive 30 minutes later. I know he would have gone immediately if I asked. I was just worried that she was suffering.
After 30 minutes passed she had slowed down but was still hanging on. I didn't want to make him go to the office again after all the help he'd given me this week (he knew about my job situation and was putting almost 1/2 my visits "on the house"). She was breathing very shallowly, so I put a small but firm pressure on her chest. Any other time she wouldn't even have been affected by it. She breathed 10-15 more times, trying to get enough air, but finally stopped. She died as the sun went down at 8:50pm, Friday August 3rd, 2007.

Sasquatch was one of the best friends I've had over the last 14 years. I'm a loner alot of the time, not always by choice, and she was almost dog-like in her loyalty. Unlike the stereotypical cat she would follow me around the house. She
loved getting in my office chair and me spinning her until she was completely dizzy. She loved belly rubs. She would sleep in the crook of my arm most nights until I was out. She loved to hide under the comforter. She was an afficianado of tuna juice and roast beef. I "rescued" her from a pet store in Huntsville, Alabama. She was the only kitten not in the group when I passed by and she was immediately wanting me to pick her out. She was always a bit chubby in the middle, but never too out of shape to enjoy her life.

It took me 3 months or so before I stopped seeing Semele's shadow every time I sat on the couch or at my feet in the kitchen. I think it will take much much longer to not feel Sasquatch on my arm at night. She will be missed, but I feel blessed that she was in my life and that she got to go with me in the place she loved.

I'll be driving to Oklahoma City, where my family lives, tomorrow. Sasquatch and Semele will be buried together as they should be in a place I'm sure I'll be able to wander by when I'm there.