20 June 2008

The Surprises of Cat

Those of you who know Dr. Dalloway Muffintop Snatchworth Riff-Raff von Kittenheimer are those of you who knew the coolest cat of the modern era. She had a great sense of humor...

...whether she wanted to or not. This still is my favorite thing about her. She loved me unconditionally, despite the silly dress-ups or her reluctant adventures as Spider-Cat. Despite her vehicle, she was pretty much a dog in cat form.

Well, yesterday, the cat I knew threw some pretty enormous surprises my way.

Surprise #1
Her was a him, but regardless what the vet said, I decided after the fact that he'll always be a she to me.

Surprise #2
She was a very sick cat.

Now resting in peace, free from my antics...

Dr. Dalloway Muffintop Snatchworth Riff-Raff von Kittenheimer, or Kitty

After the comprehensive exam, the vet told me cats hide their illness well. Kitty is proof of this. While visually emaciated, the weight loss came on slowly enough over the past few months that, too busy with all my human bullshit, I hardly noticed she was living off her body fat. Even in her anemic, frail form, she managed to hide a mass the size of a key lime. There it was, right next to the tangle in her intestinal tract where the vet thinks she was bleeding out. I never thought any different of her health. Her ingestion and out-gestion showed little change from usual. I seriously thought I was just taking my cat in for yearly vaccines. An hour later, I left the vet's office without Kitty.

The vet offered me some options. Even the optimistic options were not promising (not to mention being well beyond my financial means), but I still asked for a few minutes to think it all over. The unmanly crying commenced as soon as the vet and his assistant shut the door. As I sat there in catharsis, hanging out with Kitty, I gave her the usual routine: some quick-shine shoulder blade rubbing; cradling her on her back while I rubbed her face; and holding her up by the armpits, dangling her above my head. The last one she always seemed neutral on, but that one was for me because it always made me laugh. And of course she put up with it, because I was her favorite human.

When the vet returned, I asked him to put my cat out of her misery. Prior, I was one to consider euthanasia unnecessary. Even minutes before making a decision, I wondered why shouldn't I just let her die naturally. Euthanasia is always selfish with pets, for no animal would choose death over life, but using my unique human perspective in the moment, I made a decision for Kitty. I figured she'd want her last minutes to be good ones spent with me. After the fact, I still felt my decision was right, and surprisingly, I was relieved when the anesthesia overdose struck her. She tightened, died with her eyes open, turned soft, and like that, my sadness was gone. I'm no expert biologist or philosopher, but this seems to me like evidence of unseen, unconscious chemical communication between life forces: feeling relief from relief.

The vet asked me if I wanted to feel the mass. Once I had a sense for it, he tried to explain why he asked if I wanted to feel it. I don't remember his reasoning, but I remember my stupid reply: "I have some biology background, so it's interesting for me." God, what an idiot I turn into around death. I become as distracted as I am humble. There is something to this though. When I arrived at Emily's house after her grandmother died, that was the first thing Emily's mom asked: Did I want to touch Grandma Millie's hand? Maybe it's knowing the rest of the being has moved on, and it's only a physical vehicle left in front of me, or maybe it's just to confirm what denial tries to avoid. Either way, being alive and touching the dead brings some sense of comfort I'll have to consider more.

I wanted to blog about this last night, but I was fighting a headache. Today, the house seems that much emptier, so perhaps doing this now provides therapy when I need it more. I already miss her retarded meow, and the way she'd follow me around the house for minutes at a time. She certainly leaves a bigger void than the 5 pounds of mass no longer here.

This one's for you, Kitty:


Su said...

I'm sorry to hear of Dr. D's passing. S/he had an undefinable character and I, personally, will never forget Dr. D's backward walking and bathroom antics.

Em said...

Even though I disliked her uncleanliness I will miss her tremendously. She was definitely the most unique cat ever...perfect for us...she will be missed.

Xander and Alana Cole Faber said...

I'm really sorry, Cory. I lost my cat--also a grey one--a couple of years ago and took it really, really hard. I had no idea something was wrong--he seemed just fine to us. It turned out he had a vascular disorder that eventually caused a clot that paralyzed him and probably would have killed him within the year. I did the same thing you did, but unlike you, I still haven't made peace with my decision. I miss him. But what other choice do we really have with animals? I'm not sure, but I think you did the right thing. I am sorry you had to make that choice, though.

Xander and Alana Cole Faber said...

You know, you could always name the baby Dalloway or Snatchworth in honor of your lost friend. That would be a great way to, um, complete the cycle of life or something.

Brian said...

I'm really sorry to hear that story. We had a scare with Wally a ew weeks ago--urinary tract blockages can apparently kill a cat in a matter of hours--so I can only begin to imagine what you're going through right now.

Amy said...

I am so sorry that you lost your kitty. She was a pretty, and she sounds like she had a great little kitty soul.

S.O.S said...

Awww, CZ. I'm sorry to hear about your cat. :(