Tag Archives: pets

Good Things Come in Tiny Packages

We got a kitten. It wasn’t something we were looking to do, even though I made my husband go look at the shelter animals every time we went to Petsmart over the last few months. It sort of just happened. A former co-worker of his from WV sent him a message one evening, which led to adorable kitten pictures and an offer for us to take this tiny furball she was fostering. We decided what the heck.

Not having had kittens for thirteen years, we’ve forgotten how rambunctious they are. Hyper adult cat is a lot different from hyper 4-month cat. Sure, everyone knows this, we even know this, but somehow time erases exactly how different.

Now we have kitten standing at the window, batting at the blind pulls. Kitten creeping behind our grumpy 13-yr old Isis, in an attempt to eat from the bowl that isn’t hers. Kitten chasing whatever she can bat around, and, oh yeah, we adopted her in the middle of her teething months.

However much an adjustment this is, it’s completely worth it. From the first night we brought her home, our new kitty was eager to explore the house. She’s extremely affectionate, and loves nothing more than to climb up my back, (oooh, tiny claws) and sit upon my shoulder, like a parrot. If I stand next to my husband, she’ll walk back and forth across our shoulders, alternating which one of us to hang out with. If she sleeps with Tim, she either curls up on his lap or above his shoulder. Sleeping with me means she MUST be right at my throat. She insists on laying right below my chin, and while it may be uncomfortable, thank goodness I’m a side sleeper and she’s damn cute. If I’m sitting, she wants to nap on the top of my chest, also with her head below my chin. Seriously adorable.

Lately, life has been consisting of work, work, more work, and house renovations, so it’s been a nice distraction having a pouncing, stuffed mouse playing, finger nibbling bundle of energy around. Our older cat would disagree, but she’s slowly adjusting. 😀

Karly the Kitten! The people at the shelter thought she was a boy. Turns out you can't neuter a girl, so we added a girly 'y' to Karl's name.

Karly the Kitten! Originally named Karl, because the people at the shelter she was rescued from thought she was a boy. (Turns out, you can’t neuter a girl.) Once we found out we were getting a girl, we added the girly ‘Y’ to the name. I like to call her Karly Simon Garfunkel.




I used to use Biofreeze, but our cat Lexus’ uncanny attraction to all things mint eventually forced me to find some non-scented pain relief cream. That cat’s love of mint may have exceeded her love of catnip. And I mean anything with or smelling of menthol, spearmint, peppermint, and wintergreen. She was a social cat who liked to be with her people. She loved to sit on the bathroom counter when I showered, or when I did my end of day face washing and tooth brushing. At times, brushing one’s teeth became a chore of trying to shut the door before she got in. When my husband would leave his gum in his pocket, she would smell it through his jeans if she was sitting on his lap. Mint made her incredibly high and crazy – like drooling catnip fanatic crazy. Her eyes would get this ‘crazed ex-girlfriend stalking you’ sheen. And, yes, I’ll admit there were plenty of times I would blow my breath in her direction after brushing my teeth just to see it.

Since childhood, when I get milk out of the refrigerator, I shake the carton. Don’t know why. Every single time. That sound would bring her running. Lexus loooooved her 2% milk. She’d drink 1% if we had it, and always turned up her nose at skim. A kitty after my own heart. We wanted to eat an ice cream sandwich? No joke, the sound of unwrapping an ice cream sandwich, no matter how hard we tried to be quiet or slow, would also bring her running to the kitchen, even from a dead sleep two rooms away. Our other two cats, her daughters, get wet food; Lexus – dry. Separate eating spaces even. Not too far apart, but even friendly cats can get super territorial when it is feeding time.

On October 3 when we arrived home from work, we came to decision that it was time for her. She barely ate the day before, and had nothing to eat or drink that day, or the next. She increasingly had difficulty walking. That night was the worst. With all the tumors in her lungs, we were told to not just watch her food intake, but her breathing. That was still fine, but that night when my husband picked her up and laid her on the couch, she lay on her side all night, in the same position, motionless until I got up at my usual 5:45am. Honestly, we both half-expected her to have died during the night. I thought how much easier that would be, if she would just slip away in her sleep. One of the other things that bothered me was that she did not purr anymore. I hadn’t heard it a couple of weeks. Every once in a while, I thought I would catch the slightest vibration when petting her, but the sound had vanished.

On October 5, after both of us spending the night on the couch with her, we took her to the vet a couple of hours after they opened. For a cat who had barely moved and had not eaten or drank anything in three days, she made a remarkable show of life. She even bit the veterinarian who put her to sleep, which is fine, because that vet is my least favorite of the doctors in that office.  🙂

In some ways, I think we could have kept her with us a few more days. But then I think of how much more pain she might have been in if we had. No food, dehydration, and tumors ravaging her tiny body are so much worse than any selfish decision we could have made. The tumor on the underside of her jaw had doubled in a month. The ones covering her stomach felt like they had multiplied. I know there are people in this world who would have taken their animal to the vet, gotten them IV fluids, force fed them, but that seems cruel to me.

My husband had to go to work that day, and I felt so awful for him. Had there been anyone to cover his shift, I know he would have stayed home. I was off work, thankfully, and once home alone, I did okay. I did okay until 6pm rolled around, which is dinner time in our household. I realized for the first time in twelve years I only had two cats to feed. I realized when I opened the freezer that evening and saw the box of ice cream sandwiches that I would never have to worry about trying to eat one in peace again. I don’t need to shut the bathroom door to brush my teeth, and my husband can leave his mint-flavored gum anywhere he pleases now. Neither of the other two cats meows incessantly for a bowl of milk when I get it from the refrigerator, so it’s a quiet occasion except for the shaking. All of these strange little habits finely honed for twelve years, which is how long I lived with that cat. It’s depressing to realize the actions that have become second nature are no longer needed.

We went to the funeral home a few days ago, picked out a nice urn, and collected her ashes. One of the catnip toys we have is this grey mouse. It’s awful looking now. Completely ratty, no tail, and half the fur missing. It was one of Lexus’ favorites, so I put in inside the urn, and as one of my friends at work stated, I did begin to feel a little better once she was home.

Cancer, Cider, and the Autumnal Equinox.

So many cat meds. So few cats.

We have three cats. Isis is perfectly healthy, Jupiter has a heart condition and recently had a tumor and several cysts removed and thinks she is perfectly healthy, and Lexus, their mother, is not so good. 2012 hasn’t been a great year for health. Our turtle died on Valentine’s Day, Lexus had 5 tumors removed in March, my grandmother passed a couple of months ago, and my dad was in the hospital for several weeks. He has since returned home and is doing great, so that’s one silver lining! 🙂

We knew the chances of Lexus’ cancer coming back/spreading was likely. I’ve learned that mammary cancer in cats is almost always 90% malignant, and feline mammary adenocarinomas are aggressive and invasive, most often spreading to the lymph nodes and organs. This is what has happened to our cat. Lexus and I recently made the 3-hour trek to Columbus, OH, so she could see one of the veterinary oncologists at Ohio State University’s vet school. And let me tell you, they are fantastic there. So wonderful and caring. Before I drove up there, we knew her cancer had come back, but not to what extent, or what we could do for her. During the time while the kitty was sedated for her chest x-rays, I did get to go to Barnes & Noble and eat at P.F. Changs , so it wasn’t a completely awful day.

So now we have the information and means to make her comfortable. My husband got Lexus when she was a kitten, thirteen years ago. His roommate had a boy cat and well … you know. So we’ve had Lexus for 13+ years, and the other two for 12. I know taking care of an ill person is not the same as an ill pet, but we are still taking care of a living creature. She has a personality, quirks, does different things than our other cats, all the sorts of things that make a living thing distinguishable from another of the same species. It is a strange experience, sort of surreal I guess, to know this little furball that has been with us everyday for 13 years won’t be here much longer. In a way, I think I am glad to go through it. And I’m glad that we taking care of her, and especially happy that we are on vacation right now, so we can spend more time with her. She’s on a steroid and appetite stimulant, and it’s been a bit frustrating to find something she will eat besides the endless packets of Starkist tuna. 🙂 She did devour 2 slices of ham the other day, and, of course, still loves having the middle part of an ice cream sandwich, which pretty much means I get to eat ice cream sandwiches. Win-win.

And speaking of things I like to consume, I picked up some Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider. It’s pretty good. Surprisingly, even. A bit sweet, not overly carbonated. A friend is up this weekend, and instead of making beer as he and my husband do, we are attempting to make a hard apple cider. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider

Today is also the Autumnal Equinox, or the first day of fall for all you non-equinox knowing peeps out there. Today marks my favorite time of the year. I adore fall: the colors of the leaves, the cooler weather, warm apple cider with cinnamon sticks, cooler weather, flowering mums and pumpkins everywhere, and did I mention the weather??!! Perfect temperatures in the fall and spring. Makes me wish I could stop time and stay in an eternal loop of fall and spring, with maybe a couple of weeks of summer or winter thrown in.

Take two.

Today, we buried our beloved turtle. She was rescued from the middle of Nicholasville Road during rush-hour traffic, in Lexington. It amazes me that a tiny turtle made it into that street, let alone any distance across it.
Little known fact, Myrtle was her nickname. The Great A’Tuin was her formal name. Some of you might recognize this fromTerry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. 🙂 I dare you to prove to me that she didn’t have a universe on the back of her shell. Although, now that I think about that, if Mytle did carry a micro-universe, what happened to it when she died?
Next month would have marked nine years that we had her. I know turtles aren’t cuddly like cats and dogs, but she was part of our little family and we’ll miss her.

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