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.
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.
A recent visit to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo gave us some unusual photo opportunities. The day was partly cloudy and cool and, because we arrived early, the park was lightly-attended. A surprising variety of animals from warmer climates were allowed outdoors and into the cool air. Big cats, Lorikeets, and elephants were enjoying the fresh air. Cooler weather also seemed to make the Cheetah pair friskier than they would be on a warm summer day. The beautiful, long-legged African speedsters were chasing each other around their large enclosure when we arrived. They broke off the chase and one of them performed a beautiful leap into a tree where the cat stood and watched the people watching him. We have seen the Cheetahs tracking human visitors (especially children) from their lair during previous visits and the animal stationed in the tree did just that. The animals gave us plenty of poses and my resulting images generated more “pluses” on Google+ than any of mine have enjoyed before! Pluses are signs of approval from other Google+ users who have viewed an image, similar to “likes” on Facebook. As we left the zoo in the early afternoon, new visitors were streaming in; a fine day for a visit.
I usually don’t post iPad/iPod photos here but this one is just too fun! Annie was particularly interesting, settling in on a window-side ottoman. She pawed open the blinds for a better view, did a little sprucing up, and struck this pose. Write your own caption (this picture is ripe for that) but Annie looks lost in thought… The Thinker?
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.
Along about 9:30 last night, I began to notice Tasha acting strangely. Our cat was fidgety, meowing and yowling, then trying to pee on the floor. There were tiny spots of blood. Then I watched her repeatedly straining to urinate in her litter box with little to show for the trouble. Oh, yeah, I recognized those signs: cystitis – a urinary tract infection! Severe cases can be life-threatening and become so very quickly. Less severe and the kitty is really miserable and loudly lets you know. Either way, it could be a very bad night ahead for all involved. So, after watching her for a while and talking it over, we bundled her up in her special cat-carrying cloth bag and made the run to the Akron Veterinary Emergency Center. After examinations and tests, my layperson’s diagnosis was confirmed. We headed back through the rainy night, cat and antibiotic prescription in hand, arriving home in the wee hours. Tasha obviously felt better already, eating and drinking at her feeding station. This morning two bleary-eyed humans dragged themselves to work while the cat slept soundly in her own bed. It was a late night, but she’s all right.
Every now and again our cat will do something to impress us. The most recent impressive feat, designed by Tasha, involves drinking water. Over the years our cats have had drinking problems. No, not the intoxicating kind. The cats would go to their water bowl, bow down to take a few laps of the pure, clear liquid, and promptly get water in the nose. There’s no visible boundary showing the surface of the liquid and they would often lower their heads too far. Water inhaled through the nose causes sneezing and nobody wants that. In the past I’ve seen cats touch the surface of their water with a paw to locate it, put that paw back on the ground, then start drinking. Clever. Tasha approaches her water bowl and, if the bowl has recently been filled, will see the water level and lick near the rim of the container farthest from her. The posture keeps the nose high and dry. Her tongue slapping the ceramic dish creates a cheerful, ringing sound with no sneezy accompaniment. Smart. Recently, however, our kitty has developed a new behavior dealing with water levels that might lead to nasal submersion. If the water level is a bit too low for safe slurping, Tasha dips a paw in the water, keeps it there, and laps up refreshment from her wet foot. The sneezing issue is completely avoided! Genius!
Just a quick post to record the results of Tasha’s exam and blood test from last Friday. The test was the final post-procedure followup for Tasha regarding her Iodine-131 treatment for hyperthyroidism. Our cat weighed in at a healthy 8.4 pounds, her longstanding tummy troubles (once diagnosed as inflammatory bowel disease) seem to have ended, her oral health appears better, and her coat is full and thick as it once was. Her thyroid hormone level tested at 2.7 with the normal range being 1.9 to 4.8 — excellent! Dr. B., phoning us with the blood results, said “Tasha’s hunky-dory!” We agree.
Tasha came home from Iodine 131 treatment today as expected. She is said to have been a fine little patient, eating and drinking (and pooping and peeing) well to keep up her strength and help eliminate the Iodine from her system. She did lose a slight amount of weight (now just under six pounds) but that’s due to the still-hyperactive thyroid. She surprised us by also not being shy towards her caretaker, showing no signs of withdrawal or aggression. The Iodine 131 treatment is a cure but her hyperthyroidism won’t be fully resolved for a while and we need to be careful about handling her for the next couple of weeks: she and her eliminations are mildly radioactive! So there will be no lap-sitting or snuggling for more than 15 minutes, hand washing is required after petting sessions, and no sleeping on the bed when people are in it! When she got home she went on an inspection tour of the place, sniffing here, rubbing there, sampling the food, and purring loudly all the while. Reassured, she began to relax and found her old sleeping spot at the foot of our bed. They treated her well at The Cat Company, but oh, it’s so good to be home!