This is the layout I did for the challenge:
I got a comment on the layout from holden05 who asked “So do they all live together happily now?” I told holden05 about FBR and asked if I could answer the question for this week.
A Tale of Four Kitties
(Tails in Two Cities)
(Tails in Two Cities)
The gallery description for the layout says, “In March of 2006, David and I had 4 cats between us, still in 2 States, but we knew that we’d someday all be together. My big brother, Scotty, had already started to call us “That couple with the cats.” Of course if you look around the blog now you only see two cats and if you read Kaline’s blog, she only speaks of one brother as part of her daily world.
Azzie, the tortoise cat in Michigan, died at the end of September 2006 at 17 years old. She had been living with medication for a brain tumor since she was 10. She lived about six and a half years longer than her vet thought she would.
After she passed, I took the almost full bottle of her medicine I’d just bought in to her vet. Unlike with human medication, you can donate the medicine so the vet has some that can be given to families that can’t afford their pet’s medicine. I thought back to 1999 when she had her first seizure, how terrified I was watching her, how scared I was the next morning after she had the first treatment with absolute knock out drugs when I had to shake her to wake her up. Then I thought, I was 33 years old then. What if it was a kid’s pet? Would I want to help them treat their furry family member if they couldn't afford the medication? I had most of a three month supply of pricey pet medicine in that bottle that Azzie was done with needing.
I know I sat on the stairs and cried with Rina when Az died. Azzie was older than the girls. They had known her all their lives. We knew she was sick, very sick. We understood that she was living on borrowed time. What if there was a cat or dog that was loved by someone younger who also had never known life without that dear pet? Even if another bottle couldn’t be afforded, three months would be three more months of a pet living with a decnet quality of life. It would be three months to enjoy that pet, for the family, maybe kids, to understand, try to prepare, to get to say “goodbye.” There was no question that I needed to donate that bottle of medicine. There’s no greater tribute to a loved pet than helping another loved pet!
We did have all four cats together in Ohio in the summer of 06 and in Michigan in the fall. Four cats in one house. Can we say “stock in kitty litter?” Wow. But David and I had agreed that there was no way we were going to choose cats to keep and cats to give up. That was absolutely out of the question! What we agreed was that we wanted two cats and natural attrition would decide which two. We’d love and provide for all of them as long as we had all of them. We did expect Azzie to be the first to leave us.
In late November, Kaline became an official Buckcat and we became a full-time, three cat home. Things actually were pretty good with the three furry kids in our family. We’d decided that we could handle three happily and it wasn’t as overbearing as we might have thought. Also with two almost 11 year olds and one at 18 months, we were likely to have our “kitty-cats-three” for a while.
Then one Saturday night just after Valentines Day, David and I returned from a day trip and everything changed. There had been rattling in the basement where we kept the empty plastic litter pails. David came upstairs with Chester in his arms. He tried to explain what he saw when he went downstairs. He thought perhaps Chester had tried to jump on the pails and they fell over, or perhaps one was open and he fell in it. He was making the haunting moans of a hurt cat.
David set Chester on the floor in the dining room and he let out a moan as he tried to move, dragging his hind leg and running into the carpeted cat housie in the dining room. Chester slept in the housie often and it was someplace he felt safe. This night, he was trying to hide from his pain, unsuccessfully, as every move made him moan again.
When we called the emergency pet hospital and explained what David had seen in the basement, they told us to bring him in right away. We unscrewed the top from the cat carrier so we could lower him in from the top. I put Azzie’s afghan on the bottom for him to lay on. David gently pulled him from the housie and placed him on the afghan. He moaned as David lifted him and cried again as he was set down.
Our concerns were that he’d fallen, dislocated or broken a leg. After giving him medication to calm the pain, the doctor had a different take on the situation. She said Chester had no pulse in the back leg, that it was cold. We had just started administering thyroid medication to Chester. Hyperthyroidism had caused a noticeable weight loss and the condition was discovered on his last visit to his regular vet. Now the realities of the condition were setting in, kicking us in the teeth.
Chester had a blood clot, likely formed as a result of the medication he needed for the thyroid. There was a procedure possible, but the chances of it being successful were less than 50% and it would be very stressful for Chester to endure. The procedure would also get rid of the clot he had with no guarantee that a new clot wouldn’t develop. She left us alone to decide what to do.
David’s face was pained with a decision he didn’t want to make. As Chester was David’s cat before I met him, I knew the decision resided with David, but I told him I supported him. Facing a painful and stressful procedure and the probability it would return, love directed us to be merciful. The decision was made to end his suffering. We were there when he was given the injection and stroked his fur as he quietly drifted off to sleep.
I have written before about right to die and how cruel it is that while we offer that peace and dignity to convicted murderers, decent people aren’t allowed to end their own suffering and must endure the pain and indignity of brain clouding drugs until the merciless end. Thankfully, we do have the ability to spare our pets. They understand only faith and unconditional love for the people who promise to love and care for them. Chester’s last experience in his life was the pain going away and his Dad and Stepmom petting him and speaking softly to him.
When we got home we took the afghan out of the empty carrier and set it back next to the cat pillow. Kaline and Baggle sniffed at the afghan and they both sat on it and almost remained at attention and quiet. Instinctively they knew Chester would never come back home and it was as if they were observing moment of silence for him.
I encouraged David to call his ex-wife to let her know then rather than wait until morning. She was grateful that he called, telling him she’d go have a good cry for Chester after they got off the phone. David and I did the same.
It was a dark time for us then, to lose Azzie in the end of September and then to be shocked 4 1/2 months later with the loss of Chester. When we said we wouldn’t replace any cats and when we had 2, that’s what we’d stay at, we really never thought we’d be down to 2 so soon.
We have decided that we are not going to look for another cat, but we did okay with three and if anther one that needs a home finds us, it’ll have a home. That’s why Scotty STILL calls us “That couple with the cats.”