Archive for August, 2010

After the storm

Posted in Cats at 14:48

Sleepeh kitteh tummeh

An hour before I returned to the vet for the last time on Thursday, Nice was hit with a hail and rain storm; our first rainfall since the end of May. It lasted up until a few minutes after Grey’s passing, and hasn’t rained since. Kanoko was puzzled when I came home without Grey, pawing at the empty cat carrier and looking at it from every angle, then meowing at me. The next day, Kanoko was much worse; when I got home from work, he had strewn placemats and napkins around the apartment, and had rubbed his face raw on one side during the day. He’d never done any of that before. While I was home, he obsessively searched the apartment for hours, especially re-checking Grey’s favorite spots on the cat tree and kitchen bar. When he’d exhausted himself from all the walking, Kanoko sat and licked his fur for another hour, occasionally stopping to meow-wail — it was not a meow I’d ever heard before.

Saturday (yesterday) went better, although Kanoko still took time to search the apartment occasionally. He snuggled with me much more than usual, and finally, in the evening, relaxed enough to sprawl out as shown above. Today he’s mainly been sadly peeking into Grey’s spots, again; the most heart-breaking was when he even checked under the living room chairs, then sat listlessly, head drooped for several minutes, just staring at the floor.

I want to thank everyone who’s written — I’ve read all your comments and been touched by them. Like Kanoko, I too keep looking at Grey’s spots out of habit, since he always had his head toward me, the only exception being when he was watching birds outside. But when there were no pigeons at which to gaze, he’d sit on his white chair and meow or sigh happily when he saw me go by. I’d usually go out and give him an ear scritch.

I most miss his “discoveries”, which he’d always share. Slugs were the funniest. This winter was very wet, and my patio would often get the slimy visitors in evenings. One evening, I heard Grey give a long, insistent meow. I wondered if something were wrong, so checked on the cats from the patio door. Grey was sitting on his hind legs in the middle of the patio, Kanoko was napping on the composter, nothing looked amiss. “Meeeeeoooowww!!!!” Grey repeated. “What, dear?” I asked. “Maw!” Grey replied, keeping still in his spot. “What? What is it?” I asked him. He looked down, did a cute little dance on his front paws, and happily said “Meow, meowmeowmeow!” then looked up at me expectantly. I went out to look at what was fascinating him. “Moww!!!” he danced again on his front paws, looked down, said “meeeeeow!” and looked up to say a soft “maw”. I burst out laughing: the object of his curiosity was a little brown slug. “Yes dear, that’s called a slug,” I told him. It moved, ever so slightly. “Maaaaawwww!!!” he said to it, cocking his head to one side. “Yes dear, they’re very slow,” I chuckled, and patted his head. He purred and gave another soft “maw”.

His gentle spirit is very missed. I am, however, experiencing a different sort of grief than for Malo’s more traumatic passing (just after I’d moved in to my then-new apartment, he had escaped through a window that wouldn’t close properly and been hit by a car). Although Kanoko and I miss him very much, and wish that Grey had had more time in good health, remembering his trust and purring happiness while in my arms at the end makes it much, much easier to bear.

Adieu, Monsieur-qui-parle

Posted in Cats at 18:14

Grey, 30 May 2010

In a very sad turn of events, I chose to have Grey put to sleep today. On Tuesday evening, by chance, I took an earlier bus home than usual. This turned out to be a fateful coincidence: as soon as I got home and washed my face, Grey used the litterbox near the sink. I glanced at it, then panicked — there was a lot of blood in and around his stool. I rushed him to a nearby vet — had I come home at the usual time, the vet would have been closed.

Grey was hospitalized, given blood transfusions and several tests. I took the next afternoon off to return to the vet and check on him. More tests were needed, since Grey had tested negative for the first ones done. I agreed to the extra tests, keeping in mind that if he had something transmissible, Kanoko and Patches would also be at risk for it. Results still came back negative for them all: it wasn’t poisoning, FeLV, FIV, or anything else that could be tested. Bloodwork showed he was very anemic and having liver problems, but it wasn’t fatty liver syndrome. (He had been eating and drinking fine; I’d been watching closely since I had been worried about how thin he’d become recently.) Very low red blood cell counts; very high white blood cell counts; low albumin, high bilirubin. Kidneys and heart were fine. The vets — two work at the clinic I went to — both agreed it was an autoimmune disease, very probably Feline Infectious Peritonitis. Quote from that article: “One of the most difficult aspects of FIP is that there is no simple diagnostic test. The ELISA, IFA, and virus-neutralization tests detect the presence of coronavirus antibodies in a cat, but these tests cannot differentiate between the various strains of feline coronavirus. A positive result means only that the cat has had a prior exposure to coronavirus, but not necessarily one that causes FIP.” The “good” thing is, that it’s mainly transmitted in unclean environments; I’ve always been good about litterbox and general cleanliness, plus Kanoko is at a healthy age and Patches, constantly hiding, hasn’t been in contact with Grey or anything that could transfer from him.

As for treatment, it could have been possible to keep Grey alive for another week, few weeks, perhaps a month or two. However, for that to work, he needed to eat… and yet he refused. I took him home yesterday evening and tried to give him some of the delicious-smelling prescription food the vet had given me. He turned his nose away from it. This is a cat who would gallop to the kitchen, meowing up a storm, as soon as he heard his metal food dish come out. (I give a bit of wet food to Kanoko and Grey from time to time, in addition to their usual carnivore-specific dry food.) I tried using the feeding syringe the vet had given me, putting food onto Grey’s tongue through his teeth. He swallowed it dutifully, but ran away and hid on a dining chair under the table when I tried a second syringe.

I woke this morning to Grey on the floor by the bedside, waiting for me. He meowed when he saw my eyes open. I snuggled him, then picked him up and took him out on the patio. He didn’t want to sit in his favorite pigeon-watching spot. Instead he hopped onto his favorite chair and meowed for me again. I offered him some food. He turned away, huffing. I tried the syringe again. He swallowed, but refused some, leaving bits of wet food on his mouth that he didn’t lick off. I ended up having to sponge the food off his fur. I brushed him, which made him purr with happiness, then he set to cleaning his front paws, even the one bandaged to protect the needle kept in his arm for further transfusions.

I took him back to the vet just afterwards, as we’d agreed the night before. Grey had another transfusion. The vet told me to come back at three this afternoon, after she’d observed him some more and had a firmer idea of his prognosis. When I returned at three, the vet had him in her arms, and Grey nearly lept out for joy on seeing me, meowing and pawing excitedly. I took him in my arms. He purred his motorboat purr and kneaded my shoulder and arm. The vet told me he was still refusing to eat, even with a syringe. His prognosis was very bad; to survive he would need daily transfusions. I brought up euthanasia and the vet agreed. Grey stayed in my arms the whole time, purring and head-butting me up until the end.

Monsieur-qui-parle was a pet name I gave him, since he was always keeping up a conversation with me. The vets remarked on it too, noticing his different tones of voice and how purposeful he was with his meows; for him it was clearly communication, he never meowed just for meowing’s sake. And he was always so gentle; an exceptionally sweet, kind cat. I miss him very much. However, I’m also glad I was able to let him go while he still had the heart and energy to purr. I couldn’t stand to see him suffer and not even find joy in eating.