Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Charcoal



One of our most beautiful cats...and so shy most of our visitors never get to see her.

She came to live with us in 1994 at the age of nine months. So she turned thirteen this spring. (I guessed from her temperament, her approximate age and her sea-green eyes that she was born under Pisces...)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Pickle in May



I took this photo back on May 28th.

I sure miss this boy.

The only thing that makes it bearable is knowing that he was loved and happy during his week at the vet clinic. The staff have been so sweet in expressing their sympathies every time I go by. It helps to know he was surrounded by people who were spoiling him.

I can't express my feelings for the out-pouring of sympathy I have gotten from my cyber-friends and strangers who have reached out through the internet to offer their words and thoughts. I am truly touched and you have made this easier through your kindness.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Grieving

I sat at work Saturday evening--crying and listening to the Neville Brothers' "Fearless" over and over until what happened in the back room of the vet clinic seemed less like a sad defeat and more like something brave and true and strong as love.

I am trying not to brood on it because Pickle is gone past all recall and I can't know if I made the right decision. It just seemed like the only one I could make at the time. He was sinking and suffering and there was nothing to be done for him. Life was finished.

I don't feel brave and loving. Just very very sad.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Stunned

My thoughts keep going back to that room at the back of the vet clinic where I sat beside the open door of his cage and spent the last hour of his life with him, one hand cradling his head, the other under his paw, fingers against the bright pink pads.

I will be in that room for a long time.

They told me that he was comfortable but small tremors would occasionally run through him and his tail quivered in spite of his lethargy.

He knew I was there. Those bright yellow eyes knew me even through the haze of impending death.

I will miss his soft fur--it was such a brilliant white. There was a time as a kitten--before his full coat came in--that he seemed rather mangy-looking and his belly was a bare pink. Then, overnight, he bloomed into that astonishing beauty.

He was a calm cat, not given to imagined terrors: practical and centered, not wracked by Charcoal's nameless fears or Punkin's insecurity.

And he *was* a good boy--that puny white kitten I raised almost from scratch. He was equanimous and friendly, even-keeled, confident without being pushy. He was the rare one of the cats that moved effortlessly between cliques, splitting his time between the Boys in the Back and the house cats.

Tiny was the only one who objected to his presence. She has never forgiven him for coming along when he did. For until then, she had been the kitten, the baby of the family. The stunted white kitten displaced her and because of that, she dislikes all the white cats in our house.

Pickle ignored her dramatics.

He was one of the handful of cats in our home that knew no other place but this--those blessed cats who expect everyone to love them and who sleep without nightmares.

I loved to rub his nose--that graceful curve that lent him a Roman look. He would wrinkle the bridge of his nose when I stroked it, exaggerating the look.

I am too full of memories--and sadness--tonight.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Pickle Boy 1998 - 2007



Thank you all for your thoughts and support.

Pickle's Page

Thursday, June 14, 2007

We Will Miss Pickle Boy

It all happened so fast...

At noon, I was talking with the vet about him and everything seemed to be going well. He hadn't peed since his catheter was removed Tuesday afternoon, but he wasn't straining and was comfortable. I felt sure he would pee over night and could come home tomorrow morning.

Then, fifteen minutes after I got to work, the vet called--very concerned. Pickle was "very depressed" and his blood work showed that his kidneys had shut down and his liver was failing. I could tell from her tone of voice that things were serious but I thought surely given time he would right himself. I asked what could be done for him and there wasn't much--back to the catheter and fluids and see if that helped, see if his kidneys would respond. I figured--give him overnight, give him a chance. But after I hung up the phone, I knew I had to go see him. Fortunately, this is the one day of work that I have someone else here to cover a few hours of my shift.

I signed out from work and ran over to the clinic.

They took me back to see him and I could see why they were concerned. I had heard the term "crashing" before and knew that this was what it meant. He was conscious but groggy, as if he had been sedated. Even though he hadn't been. I made eye contact with him, put my hand under his paw so he could feel my warmth, let him know I was there, told him he was a good boy.

I sat with him for about an hour. All the while, it became clearer to me that he was dying. I had seen that downward spiral enough to recognize it. The distant look in his eyes, the coolness of his paws. He responded to my voice and my touch but I could tell he was distracted and already starting to move on. One hour I spent, feeling his claws gently griping my finger when I tried to pull away, feeling him respond when I bent over to kiss him behind his ear and tell him he was a good boy. In that span of time, I could see that he failing, that there would be no coming back from this.

I had had a feeling from the first that this wasn't just a bump in the road--that this was more serious than just a bout of urinary blockage. Even when I felt that peace last Satarday, I knew it was not a guarentee that he would be healthy at the end of this, just that he would be "okay"--that the path he was on was necessary and out of my control.

So, I did the only thing I could--I sent him on his way, free from the body that had failed him. It broke my heart but once I saw him, I knew it was the only thing I could do for him. That to try to hang on to him for another day wouldn't make a difference and would only be cruel.

Damn it--he wasn't even nine years old. He would have been nine in September. I guess I'm in shock at how quickly it happened.

I am so glad he was with us in the house these past two months. I realize now that it was a bitter-sweet goodbye that leaves me with the fond memory of him sleeping on my stomach or curled against me at night. I am so glad to have that, to make sure he had no doubt he was loved.

Right up 'til the end.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Back to the Vet

Yes, I took him back to the vet this morning, as soon as the clinic opened.

I knew before I got home from work last night. I just had a heavy feeling in my heart. I still ran upstairs to his room to check the boxes but aside from some soft stool--nothing. I looked Pickle over carefully. If he had shone any sign of distress, I would have called the vet emergency number and run back down to town with him. He was resting in the bed and while he wasn't cranky, he seemed restless. But not in distress.

I checked on him several times during the night. No change. He would purr when I petted him, but then would visit the two boxes in order and wait for relief that didn't come. It was so depressing.

So back to town at nine this morning. Pickle wasn't thrilled at being put back in the carrier but he seemed to know we were going to get him feeling better.

We were going down Baycrest when I had my epiphany. No great revelation, just a warm wave of peace that washed over me and the sudden awareness that everything was going to be alright. I stuck my fingers through the grate on the carrier, stroking Pickle's nose, trying to convey that peace and certainty to him. No matter how things turned out, it will be okay. I don't know where it came from, but I knew--and know. The tension in my gut melted away, replaced by a calmness I haven't felt in days.

Everything is going to be okay...

Our vet saw us immediately. A quick check confirmed that he was blocked again. She comforted me by saying it was very common. She took him back to get him sedated and catheterized right away. She called me at work this afternoon with an update, assuring me that the prognosis was good and that he was resting comfortably (with a little bit of Valium on board.)

He's in good hands and he's where he needs to be. I guess I needed to bring him home to realize that.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Pickle Is Home!



I was down at the vet clinic at nine this morning, carrier in hand, only to be greeted by the vet saying, "I tried to reach you at home and at work..."

My heart sank. Surely I wouldn't be stopped now after I had waited so long.

Pickle had his catheter removed yesterday--as planned--but hasn't peed on his own yet. Only by promising that I would isolate him and monitor his cat box was I able to come home with him. If he doesn't pee overnight, I will be back at the clinic with him tomorrow morning.

I had visualized an emotional reunion. I even wore a light-colored shirt, taking into account the white-cat-hair factor. But Pickle seemed distracted and unimpressed by my greetings and remained withdrawn most of the way home. Only when I turned down our road did he begin to act interested, meowing his annoyance at the car ride--a very different sound than the one he made on Tuesday.

So, he's home. I would be a lot happier about it if he would have peed on his own before coming home. But he is in an isolated, familiar room with two clean boxes and a smorgasbord of cat delights and two bowls of water, so I have done what I can for him. He seems more relaxed every time I visit him but he is going back and forth from box to box and hasn't been able to release on his own yet. I just hope he will have peed by the time I get home tonight.

Who would have thought that we would be hoping for more cat pee in this house?

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Still No Pickle Boy...

It's only been two nights but it feels much longer.

My sleep was already disrupted by getting up at 2 am to see Denny off to work, but the remainder of the night I kept thinking that surely by now poor Pickle must be confused as to why I haven't come for him, and getting depressed because he wants to come home.

I already know he can't come home until Friday. The plan is to remove the catheter this morning and see how he does--and I work this afternoon and can't pick him up when the clinic closes this evening. On the plus side, that is one more night to make sure all is functioning well before Pickle comes home.

I would feel more confident if I knew this particular vet better. This is the first time I have brought a case to her. Since I ran to the vet clinic on Tuesday without an appointment, I didn't feel I had the right to be picky about who saw Pickle--I just wanted him to have relief.

I can't fault his care--I understand the need to make sure his bladder is functioning normally before he is sent home. But I don't know this vet and she doesn't know me. She has made several references to the number of cats we have--but surely any review of our (very fat) chart would show that we take good care of our cats and monitor their health as well as anyone with two or three cats. I don't have to prove anything to her but I find myself babbling when I call to check on Pickle's condition--or weighing my comments against any possible misinterpretation.

I am just off balance and want Pickle home.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Pickle is in the Hospital...

At the vet, actually.

We noticed last night that he was acting snappish with the other cats--quite unlike him--and I started watching him go from litter box to litter box, spending a long time in each one without any results. So I knew he was having plumbing problems--whether urinary or constipation, I didn't know, so I gave him a glycerin suppository just in case, but that didn't seem to give him any relief. I gave him half a baby aspirin in case he had a bladder infection, and perhaps it was the pain-relief that allowed him to sleep fairly comfortably overnight.

Still, I got up early enough to be first into the waiting room at the vet clinic this morning. No appointment but I had a cat in distress. It is so unusual for Pickle to vocalize that his occasional cries rent my heart.

The vet diagnosed him with urinary blockage. I guess I shouldn't be surprised as it isn't uncommon, but after all these years, I have never had a cat block up. I was just glad that Pickle was staying in the main house and that we noticed the change in his behavior before the situation got more serious.

Still, the vet is keeping him overnight and sounds like she may keep him several nights before all is said and done. I know he is getting good care and he is where he needs to be but I still hate leaving any of our cats at the clinic. I want them to be home with us.

Please keep him (and his mommy!) in your thoughts.