Thursday, June 08, 2006

I notice other people are having somewhat of a blog slow-down. I blame the weather.

I spent last weekend moving Eleanor and her roomie Eleanor into the apartment they are sharing (with three other people) for the summer. I am getting better at packing the car (or maybe it was just that Doug had lent me his, so I could carry more) and moving furniture it basically more useful than playing mailing list games. I was also able to go to a really good garden center in Hadley and bought a fancy honeysuckle and a half-barrel (why would anyone want a water feature? The whole WORLD is a water feature, we're having flood warnings for about the third time in four weeks)and various small things. Now if I can get them planted before they drown....

But back to Memorial Day Weekend (when it was, if you recall, raining less). Ellie and Matt brought home a stray cat on Saturday evening. He was orange, frighteningly thin, with nastiness coming out of both ears, and the vet was out on an emergency and said he sounded stable; just keep him isolated and we could come in on Tuesday. So we set him up in the loom room and fed him. He was crazy for olive oil (I was using it on a paper towel to clean his ears) but also cat food. Ellie contemplated calling him Popeye because he was so fond of Olive Oyl... but opted for a more dignified name for an orange orphaned kitty (I had to point out it had something to do with Dickens as well Disney), so he was Oliver.

We knew he was in awful shape. Doug thought he might have had a stroke, I thought he might have been sideswiped by a car, as one side didn't work too well. But even though he had trouble walking, he would come bouncing up and stagger onto one's lap when we came to visit him, and purr very loudly and fall asleep. He wasn't neutered, but he knew a lot about people, and he was a sweetie. I wondered if someone might have dumped him when he got ill, or if he had just wandered off one day when he was delirious. At least for a while he had been loved dearly, and we could give him some of that again.

I am old and pessimistic and I was worried. Ellie is not. Both of us hoped when we took him to the vet they would fill him up with antibiotics and he would be all right, but of course we asked for FIV and FeLV tests. They did tell us he was older. It took the vet a long time to come out of the back room and I could tell at once the news was not good; he had full-blown kitty AIDS.

(This was the day NPR atarted covering the 25th anniversary of the scientific description on human AIDS, and it was a little too pat. But at least there's a vaccine for cats.)

Ellie took it hard, as she had not expected this. I had sort of expected it, since most cats don't fall over when they walk, but I took it hard too. We have only had to have one pet put to sleep, and my then-husband handled it. I am all for sensible allocation of medical resources and not prolonging anyone's agony, but I am also acutely aware of the difference between 'killing' and 'letting die.' He was having trouble walking, but he could eat and poop and purr and rub his head on us. And as Ellie said, he trusted us.

But we had cats at home who did not need to risk exposure to FIV, even though they are vaccinated. I didn't think we could drug him into remission and at least one of his ears was full of pus, which had to hurt; he was not going to get better.

So we filled him up with kitty treats and they gave him a shot of something like curare. He got all rigid, but Ellie could feel his heartbeat speed way up when they shaved his foreleg and gave him an overdose of anaesthetic. It was not the'they give him a shot and he just went to sleep' kind of death and we were somewhat miffed.

And he was dead.

And we buried him (deep) in the front yard next to Obelix, who Ellie says will like him, and they can both watch the chickens.

I am still sad.


JoVE said...

Very sad. Always a hard thing to do. But you got a couple of days of joy from Oliver and he from you. Focus on that part and the joy it gave him.

On a lighter note, I'm glad to see I am not the only one with a penchant for sharing living space with folks of the same name.

Norma said...

Oh, *choke*

I'm so sorry. You did the right thing. Still. So sad.

Sara said...

Oh, Laura, I am sad for you. I know how hard that is...we had a little kitty that came up to our house to live - Bessie - and she seemed fine...then one day she would not eat...and it happened for a few days...I took her to the vet and she had the same thing. He let us stay with her for a while and play and love on her some and then we held her while she went off to her reward. But, it hurt me so much...even though like you - we did the right thing.

My thoughts are with you and yours.

Beth S. said...

I'm sad too, reading about him. Poor little guy! At least he went out with a belly full of kitty treats, and not hungry and alone in the woods somewhere. That's something, anyway.

Laurie said...

Ouch. Some day, death will be only when one wants, and the lives will be long and good. And they will wonder how any other way could possibly have been borne.