Sadly, we had to say goodbye to feline family member Tasha today. I came down to the main floor this morning and discovered her standing, seemingly lost. She had been sick numerous times. Tasha was also having intestinal distress; so we took her to the veterinary clinic to try and understand her condition. Tasha, at about age 16, had been in failing health for some time and was thought likely to have lymphoma. Dr. R., new to us at the clinic, was kind and gentle in her examination and in her discussions with us but reported Tasha likely had only a couple of months to live. We agonized over the choices: treat and “make comfortable” or euthanasia. The awful choice was made to spare our cat the continued and increasing suffering. So, at a little before 3:00 this afternoon, Tasha’s life ended.
The beginning of our time with Tasha came when we adopted her at a big box pet store from a local cat rescue group; that was on July 1, 2000. We took our new kitty to our vet for tests and found, to our horror, that she tested FIV-positive. We nearly returned her to the agency. We did crash research, however, including a call to the Cornell Feline Health Center, on the risks to our resident cats of sharing life with an FIV+ animal; we determined the risk was low. We also learned Tasha’s rescue story: found in a box, discarded with trash, her murdered kittens with her. There are everyday monsters out there living among us, posing as decent human beings.
With us Tasha found love and care and, we hope, a happy life. We nursed her through several health issues including hyperthyroidism, and high blood pressure.
The last couple of years saw Tasha lose sight in one eye, lose most of her hearing, and develop a limp in one leg. What we’ll remember, however, is an affectionate cat that would often snuggle with us in bed, sometimes sharing my pillow, and who waited at the door for me to come home from work on late nights.
We will miss you, dear one.
Sometimes being a bit out of focus can be a good thing… I was watching Wonders of the Solar System when Annie the cat jumped up on the entertainment center; she likes to sit right in front of the TV and watch the action. In this case, Annie was watching program host Prof. Brian Cox. I was amused by the sight of the cat staring up into the professor’s face and tried an iPad photo of the scene. The iPad had a bit of trouble focussing, the scene changed, and I got a mystic, unworldly, artsy shot instead of a funny picture!
Working on the Canon EOS 7D Mark II autofocus system settings last evening, I sought out a willing model. Annie, our huge gray domestic shorthair cat, poses beautifully … until you point a camera at her. Once she sees a big camera lens or even an iPad pointed at her, Annie starts acting like a supermodel hopped up on caffeine: she rolls around, stretches her legs, grabs at the camera, and in general just gets crazy with it! During our brief session Annie did a bit of rolling but, having been stirred from contemplating the view from a nearby window, she was a bit mellow. The kitty rolled half over, curled up in a big furry ball — all legs and tail — and moved slowly through several head positions. I got a good test subject for my new camera settings and some decent photos of our feline beauty. Oh, and I think I finally got the settings I was looking for.
We rescued this beautiful cat we found languishing in the woods. She chose us for the job.
We were walking the trail in a metropolitan park on a Sunday afternoon when I heard an occasional quick, quiet “mew.” At first I thought it might be the call of a catbird and I looked up into the trees. But the meows grew louder, closer, and were accompanied by a rustling in the underbrush. In short order a beautiful, solid grey adult cat emerged, wound quick figure-eights around my legs, and accepted all the petting we would dole out. It was if this cat had known us for years and was happy to see us again! From our point of view, however, it was a feeling of concern for its welfare … a stray! We were not looking for a cat, and what if she is simply on a tour of her home territory? We continued down the trail and the cat followed. When I tried to pick up the cat, obviously underweight, she would tolerate being carried only so far then, squirming, insisted on being let loose. She would not walk with us back to the car; we thought we would take her to an animal shelter. We sighed but felt we needed to leave her behind as she disappeared once more into the underbrush. We wished the best for her.
Our thoughts stayed on the cat during the next day. I reported the cat to a community rescue organization and the animal warden walked the same path we had. No cat was seen or heard. “Were you thinking to go back and check the park,” asked She Who Must Be Obeyed. “Yes.” We returned that evening, after work, this time with a pet carrier, looking for our lost friend. We watched, listened, and carried on light conversation so that any nearby cat would hear us. We were just about to leave, presuming the cat had moved on, when I paused near the final turn in the path to the parking lot. I heard those little mews again. Kitty again emerged from hiding, responded to calls of “here kitty” from She Who Must Be Obeyed, was picked up, and was placed into our pet carrier. Easy as could be!
The cat, we had temporarily named for the park in which she was found, was way too trusting and healthy to be feral, way too scrawny to be simply patrolling. We suspect this kitty was abandoned in the park, unwanted and uncared for. I’d been in touch with a local animal shelter but, when we arrived, we were told the shelter was full and that there was a waiting list. We called another shelter and got the same answer. Every other place else was closed. So we took her to the very helpful Metropolitan Veterinary Hospital, Akron, where she was admitted (after some begging from me) for rehydration and a solid meal. The cat traveled almost silently in the pet carrier, surprising us since our own Tasha yowls during entire short trips. She weighed a mere seven pounds, possibly two pounds underweight. It was late when we finished at the hospital and we were tired. Our cat was apparently exhausted.
The following morning I took her to our regular vet for continuing care: shots, deworming, testing for nasty feline diseases. We were making sure she would be in prime condition for adoption. I took the day off to try and work the problem of what to do. We were able to board her with our vet for a bit while we sought placement with a no-kill shelter or associated foster home. Really nice digs, for a cage: like four times as big as a regular enclosure and all to herself! She got the usual course of vaccinations over the next couple of days and received flea treatment afternoon, just in case! Before a tussle over blood collection, kitty was offered food and found it delicious (pictured below).
Safely ensconced with the vet, we considered the cat’s situation: We feared adopting her into home because of our resident cat’s intolerance for others of her kind. Having seen the overcrowded conditions at the shelter, I didn’t feel comfortable with that but there was no room anyway. Checking with other animal rescue and adoption agencies in our area we found the same sad situation everywhere: no room for any more cats or kittens! Local animal control agencies had no reports of a lost cat matching this one. We didn’t rescue this cat only to cage her forever or have her put down. What to do?
We did the only thing we could do with clean conscience and aching hearts… we decided to adopt her.
Now known as Annie, the cat spent a few more days with our vet. We had requested spaying but it was found she had been spayed — markings indicated the procedure was most likely done through the auspices of a rescue shelter! While being prepped for the surgery she did not get, Dr. A examined Annie’s teeth: several were in very bad condition. While the cat was asleep, four teeth were removed. All tests and health exams came back “clean” for this stray/abandoned sweetheart, now believed to be about three years old.
We are working to introduce this loving and energetic cat into our household. First confined to one small bedroom, now spending her days in the master bedroom with evening releases into the rest of the house; soon to be exposed, while confined in a sturdy carrier, to our resident senior cat, Tasha. This is going to be tough!
In the mean time, Annie continues to settle in. Loves to watch birds from bedroom windows, eats as much as we will feed her (wet food now, while the mouth heals), and astonishes us with her feats of feline agility — she is longer and taller than our Tasha, and about 10 years younger.
Watching from the woods as other people walked past, she chose us. We don’t know how she picked us, but Annie made the choice. We were not looking for another cat, and had reservations about taking on another lifelong charge. We didn’t do the “smart” thing but did the only thing our hearts would allow: we took her in.
Not a lot of visual difference to show but important progress nonetheless on Monday and Tuesday. I returned to the office whilst She Who Must Be Obeyed watched over our abode. Finishing sanding was completed in the kitchen, flooring was installed up the stairs and down the second floor hallway, new heat grates were placed, and the new kitchen sink arrived. A supply of pre-primed moulding was left off for me to paint – a job I will probably do Monday morning. The contractor has finished until after Thanksgiving so I’m hoping the molding will be installed next week followed promptly by arrival and installation of the Cambria countertops and (finally!) plumbing.
Because the floors are in place, Tasha was released from her bedroom exile for the first time in a week and a day. She explored the place tentatively, examining everything, pacing around and around the living room and kitchen. She appears to be uncertain of her new environment and stays close to us all of the time. In the mean time, the main floor has little furniture and the kitchen is barely useable, so we all spend most of our time in the master bedroom.