Thursday, November 25, 2010

Kitty's Story: The Last Chapter

Kitty on our balcony
Last Tuesday, Kitty stopped eating. But even before that, I'd noticed some other changes. She didn't growl at cats who dared to enter her (my) bedroom. She tried out different chairs and beds and cat baskets in my apartment. She asked to go outside. She still sat at the entrance to the kitchen and watched me with disapproval written all over her face if I gave her the wrong food. But she seemed slower, calmer, slightly less engaged. I wanted to think she was finally settling in and had decided she wanted our home to be her home forever. But a tiny part of me wondered if she was okay, or if something might be wrong.

Tuesday night, I took her to the local emergency room, and blood tests showed she had severe unregenerative anemia. When I spoke to my vet the next day, she agreed with the ER doctor that Kitty needed to see a specialist. I chose the referral hospital in Towson, although that might have been a mistake. After three days of testing and imaging and living in a cage in a brightly-lit room surrounded by barking dogs, Kitty was diagnosed with pancreatitis and possible, or probable, lymphoma or mast cell disease. The tests showed no signs of cancer, but the doctors were sure it was there, lurking, waiting to be found. But they agreed that I shouldn't subject my precious Kitty to more tests just yet.

At home, she didn't eat on her own, and she rarely left her bed on the vanity in my bathroom. I gave her fluids and what seemed like truckloads of pills and liquid medications and syringed food into her three or four times a day. But nothing seemed to make any difference at all, and although I tried to be optimistic, I felt that the end was near.

On our last night together, I sat with her and told her how much I loved her. I congratulated her on getting adopted again, this time by me, and promised that she would never, ever again be "returned" to a shelter. She purred, but I sensed that the Kitty I knew and loved was no longer there.

The Kitty I knew talked nonstop and always let me know exactly what was on her mind. She sat on the pillows beside mine and purred me to sleep every night. She loved to dip her paw into her food and lick the food off the paw (messy, but cute). And she did the same thing with water. Her larger than life personality always made me laugh.

Her story doesn't have the happy ending I envisioned. But for her, maybe it was a happy ending, after all. She was in her forever, really forever, home with someone who loved and respected her. For a cat who had been kicked around by heartless humans her entire life, maybe that was a happy ending. I hope so, but I wish it hadn't come so soon.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Kitty: A Success Story In Progress

Kitty when she was in the shelter.
Some of our success stories are still works in progress. Kitty is one of those stories still waiting for a happy ending. She was adopted from the Baltimore County shelter as a kitten and was returned six years later. Luckily, she was adopted again. But then a new baby arrived, and her humans had no room for a cat in their hearts or their home. Now 12 years old and diabetic, Kitty was returned to the shelter.

When we met, she was living in a cramped cage. I was there to meet her and report back to Diabetic Cats in Need, a rescue group that grew out of the Feline Diabetes Message Board. The last thing I expected to hear was that she was going to be killed if she wasn't pulled by a rescue very soon because the shelter's budget has no room for diabetic cats. Kitty came home with me!  

As we made our way through rush hour traffic on the Beltway, Kitty talked nonstop. Maybe she was telling me how hurt she was that her people moved her into the basement after the baby arrived and how much she enjoyed all the attention she got from the volunteers at the shelter. She's a very social cat and loves being front and center when people are around.

So now she's with me, making me laugh with her many personality quirks and truly hating the other cats who live here. We're both eager for her to go to her forever home where she can be the one and only cat. But until then, I'll love her with all of my heart and enjoy her company because she's a wonderful friend.