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Oct 15, 2010

It has been a long long time since I blogged about anything.  In fact, I was living in Oklahoma City when my last blog appeared.  A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then.  This blog, however, is not about me but about one of my cats who died last year on this exact date of October 15.

Miss Pink belonged to a co-worker's friend who had three cats that needed homes because the owner was dying of cancer and wanted to get the cats settled before she died.  I do not know how old the cats were but one was the mother cat and the other two were her daughter cats.  My co-worker, Kay, was going to take one and she asked if I would take one also.  I already had Mr Atticus, my other cat, and without really thinking it through said "sure, no problem."

Kay took the cat she was going to adopt home to her house that already had a dog and a Prima Donna cat already.  Prima Donna cat, although she was a much smaller cat, terrorized the new cat and for almost 2 weeks kept the new cat under the bed and wouldn't let her out.

I had not gotten my adoptee yet so Kay asked if I could take the one she had gotten right away instead.  I said "sure, no problem."  The new cat was named Pinky. (yech)  So Kay brought over a huge homemade carrier with Pinky inside.  Pinky was a large calico with blue eyes who was understandably a little nervous about coming out of her carrier.  Mr Atticus is a neutered adoptee from a no kill shelter I had had for about a year and a half at the time.  He immediately went up to the carrier to nose around.  They both hissed at one another.  Then Pinky (I guess she had that name because she had pink nose, paw pads and ears)eased on out of the carrier and off the two went.  Together. Becoming inseparable from the first.  They were a couple and it was if they had known one another from birth.

I renamed her Miss Pink as I thought it was a heck of a lot more dignified than Pinky.  Trouble was, I had no background for her on how old she was or whether she had been the mother cat or one of the daughters.  Kay left as quickly as she could.  I suppose she was afraid I might give the cat back.

So we took a trip to a vet to have her checked over and she seemed fine.  I took gobs of pictures because I had a new digital camera and was practicing. Most of my pictures were not too good but a few came out okay.  And we all lived happily together.

Miss Pink was a gentle cat but not one to be picked up and cooed over.  She would sit in your lap on her terms and at her times.  She became the cat that sat next to me at all times.  She was a talker and would sit there looking intently at me meowing away as if we knew what we were talking about.  She was a pretty large cat which I called "big boned" but which the vet called fat.  He said the same about Mr Atticus too.  How rude.

Miss Pink would let Mr Atticus choose first where to lay down, when to eat, etc.  Mr Atticus, on his part always let her choose when to eat and let her go first.  He might have done that out of self  preservation as Miss Pink did love her food.

Since both were declawed when I got them, they were always indoor cats who got to go out on the fenced patio. 

When circumstances dictated a couple years late, I moved to a cheaper apartment, on a small lake in the city.  The lake was inundated with geese that never ever left so there were hundreds of them.  Eventually, the cats and the geese tolerated one another and things went along fine.

One thing about Miss Pink, though which I and the vet attributed to hairballs, was that she threw up a lot.  Right after eating, and other times too.  But she never stopped eating even though I limited their intake to get some of the "big bones" reduced on advice from the vet.

After a couple of years, we moved back to my home town of St Louis. Miss Pink was vomiting a little more.  When I took them into the vet for their immunizations, he said it was probably hairballs and to put them on hairball prevention food.  I did that.  But it made no difference.  She just would suddenly get sick, throw up, and go on like nothing was ever wrong.  This went on for almost a year.

My niece has a dog that she took to The Banfield Animal Hospital in the petsMart stores.  The hospital/clinic offered a wellness program for dogs and cats where for a monthly fee, your pet got all the necessary shots, blood work, exams, and dental cleanings.  Sounded like an okay deal so I signed up both Miss Pink and Mr Atticus for the program.  The Vets there are very nice and seemed to be very thorough in there care.  Both of the cats got their physical exam, shots, teeth cleaning.  It was at the time of the teeth cleaning that the vet noticed that both cats had teeth broken off.  Mr A had two and Miss Pink had one.  So we went back a couple of weeks later and under anesthesia, the broken teeth were removed.

It was then that Miss Pink really started on her journey toward the Rainbow Bridge.  Mr Atticus healed fine and was back to eating right away.  Took his pain meds okay.  Hunky Dorey.  But Miss Pink did not.  She showed inflamed gums that wouldn't heal so she was put on antibiotics and pain meds.  She stopped eating.  More intensive lab work came back showing she was hyperthyroid.  And although she ate like a fiend throughout her life prior to the surgery, she did vomit a lot which the vet explained was a symptom of hyperthyroidism.  She was put on an oral med then an ear gel med for the hyperthyroidism.  Arrangements were mad with the University of Missouri Vet School Hospital for her to get radioactive iodine treatment for the hyperthyroid condition.  But she refused to eat.  I tried everything to persuade her to eat but she took nothing.  She rapidly lost weight.

Because of not eating, her liver became involved which the vet said happens quickly when cats do not eat.  It was very serious and if we could not get some food in her the prognosis was pretty grim.  As a last resort, she kept her overnight and gave her tube feedings in an effort to have her digest some food.  But by then, her intestines stopped working and she continued to vomit.

She lost some more weight.  She looked terrible, and her beautiful pink ears were turning yellow from the jaundice of the liver involvement.  She was dying before our eyes.  When I went to pick her up from the clinic after her second overnight stay for tube feedings Dr Morgan told me that it was not working.  She mentioned that they could have a specialist put in a gastric tube and we could feed her by tube until she got a little better and could eat on her own, but she could not guarantee success.  Miss Pink was pretty far into liver damage and she felt that it would be better for her to put her to sleep and save her from a slow agonizing death.

And so, as I Miss Pink sat next to me on the bench in the room we were in, she laid her head in my hand and as the doctor injected the sedative overdose, she gently went to sleep.  That was on October 15, 2009.

The vet techs wrapped her in a blanket and put her in a box, and I carried my beautiful little cat with the pink nose, paw pads and ears out through the store, onto the car, and my sister-in-law Terry and I drove home with my package.

We buried her on a rainy afternoon outside close to the patio and piled pretty stones all about her grave.  My beautiful lively talkative polite girl was gone.  She was gone.

I went inside and found that I could not look at Mr Atticus without feeling guilty and angry.  They had been inseparable for years and now she was gone and he was healthy and present.  He was so confused.  She left one morning and never returned.

We have been grieving ever since.  In retrospect, all that vomiting probably was due to the hyperthyroidism which could have been successfully treated years earlier.  The vet said it took a pressing event like the surgery to reveal the cause of her not healing, and vomiting.

Every Monday night at 8pm I light a candle in memory of Miss Pink.  It sits by her picture.  It is a custom started by a group of other grieving pet owners across the country to remember the sick and dying animals around the globe, but especially our own lost pets.  Every Monday night when I light that candle, I cry a little.  Mr Atticus was grieving too and to this day will try to climb in my lap and get me to feel better--every Monday night.

For the longest time I felt guilty and I felt angry at Mr Atticus for surviving.  Every time I look at him I don't just see Mr Atticus, I see Mr Atticus and his best friend Miss Pink.  I had to consciously make time to do nothing but spend time with him in my lap.  He has never taken to our new little guy who is now two years old.  He resented and ignored the new guy.  His name is Smoogers (soft g.)  That is the name he came with.  Mr Smoogers.  They get on, play together, but they are not close like Mr A and Miss P were.
I don't know exactly how old Mr A is.  When I got him from the rescue shelter they approximated his age as around 3 or 4.  So he is now about 10.  He is having some trouble with inflammatory bowel and is on prescription diet.  Mr Smoogers eats it too.  It is just an easier digestible food that certainly won't hurt him.

Mr Smoogers really likes Mr Atticus and spends some of his evening awake time grooming Mr A who accepts these ministrations as his due.  But on Monday evenings, Mr A and I remember our best friend with a candle and some lap time.

I believe that we are given time with certain animals in this life for special reasons.  And I have had so many little animal friends during my lifetime.  They have all been very special in their own way.  But there was something about this little cat that was more than usual.  Perhaps we both knew, deep down inside somewhere, that her time would be cut short--limited.  She may have know all along that something was wrong.  The vet tells me that animals, especially cats, hide their symptoms of illness very well and that many times by the time the symptoms show up, it is way too late to help them, as in this case.

Quality time. Not length of stay, but quality of time spent together.  That is what is important.  I cannot do those years over.  If I could I would be smarter about things because I would know the future and would be able to change it some.  But I can't.  I just have those memories that I hope in time replace the tears and grief and guilt.  I have Monday evenings, though.  Mr Atticus and I have our time on Monday evenings when we remember

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Posted: Oct 15, 2010 3:31pm


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Mary G.
, 5
Allenton, MO, USA
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