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Colibri

UPDATE: I am sad to inform you that Colibri died unexpectedly a few days ago. I found her lying on the base of the large carpeted scratching post that was one of her favourite perches, and she looked so peaceful that at first I thought she was asleep. She had been her usual self that morning, muscling in among the other cats to make sure she got her breakfast, and I had set off for work without any worries. I knew Colibri was not in robust health, as she had a persistent problem with a swelling under her tongue, and my veterinarian had also warned me that her intestines were thickened (I had decided not to explore this issue any further, not wanting to subject her to any invasive diagnostic procedures at her advanced state of decrepitude). All this may give you the impression that the old girl was on her last legs, and as things turned out I guess she was, but I can assure you she was a very contented animal. She ate prodigiously, no doubt in reaction to having once come close to starving, and developed an impressive belly as a result. She got along with the other cats (after a brief period during which she smacked them around a bit), and enjoyed all the usual feline things like lying in a pool of sunlight, or curling up in a warm basket on chilly winter days. I cherish the memory of her sprawled in one of her favourite beds, a somewhat unconventional one consisting of a litter box lined with polar fleece pillows, positioned on a small table by my bed. She liked to prop her chin on the rim of this box and let one paw dangle languidly over the edge, all the while purring so loudly that I had to turn up the volume of the TV. I truly believe she died peacefully, as her body showed no signs of convulsions, nor did I find any signs of vomiting or diarrhea or anything that might indicate that she suffered. My sense is that her heart simply gave out. While I selfishly wish that I had been able to say goodbye to her, I am comforted by the knowledge that this little lemon had a very nice retirement.

 
Armistice

My beautiful girl died in early August, of acute kidney failure. I knew when she arrived that she was not likely to live for very long, and feel very fortunate that she had nine good months in my home. To whoever threw her away, I say more fool you, since you were blind to her sweet disposition and did not deserve to enjoy her trusting gaze and gentle nature. Armi was accepted by all other cats and fitted smoothly into the madhouse I call home, and it was an honour for me to give her a peaceful end. (September 7, 2005)

Graceful Armi is doing very well in my home and is a joy to have. She is eating well and has gained a fair bit of weight, purrs all day long and is a wonderful bed companion, curling up in my arms all night long (under the bedding, naturally, as she has such a thin coat and needs the warmth). She was great "help" to me as I assembled Christmas presents: she lay on the polar fleece I was cutting into scarves, stepped on the wrapping paper and generally gave me the benefit of her involvement in the festive season. She was obviously well loved at some time in her life, as she has no fear of people and in fact climbs happily into anyone’s arms the first time she meets them. She also tolerates other cats and even seems to be bonding with one of mine. Armi is a real treasure, despite her messed up kidneys, and will make a rewarding companion for anyone wise enough to adopt her. In the meantime, I am happy to be the recipient of her affection (January 2nd, 2005).

This darling gentle seal point Siamese arrived on November 11th 2004, having been found as a stray. I was immediately smitten with her trusting and friendly demeanour, as she purred in my arms and behaved wonderfully during her checkup. Unfortunately, she is a bit of a wreck and has clearly suffered prolonged deprivation. She is very thin and one of her kidneys has shriveled away to the size of a peanut; my vet believes her to be around eight years old. As she is fully declawed, it would have been very difficult for her to find any food while she was homeless, since even tearing open garbage bags would have presented a challenge. The day after her arrival, she vomited pieces of plastic ribbon as well as seed casings, all signs to me that she had found no decent food and had swallowed anything she could find on her wanderings. She is not out of the woods as I write this (November 19th), as she is not eating on her own and more blood tests have to be carried out to find what exactly ails her. I have a feeling she may turn out to have a poor life expectancy, in which case I will likely take her home with me so that whatever time she has left can be spent in some degree of comfort. It boggles the mind to think of a cat with no defenses and a beautiful nature being cast out to die (this no exaggeration, just the plain truth).

 
Lightning

Lightning was euthanized on June 13th, 2005. She was at the end of a lengthy disease process, and I knew her time had come. All this began some months ago, when she lost a fair amount of weight quite suddenly and acquired the beginnings of that “ratty old cat” look. I popped her into the clinic for a thorough tune up, including blood tests, and she was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. I was expecting something of the sort and it did not cause me severe distress, as I have had many cases of hyperthyroidism over the years and know that a cat can live with it for years. Lightning’s condition was not difficult to stabilize, and in order to spoil her and spare her the twice daily pilling with plain Tapazole (it is very bitter, trust me, I’ve tasted it), I had her medication formulated in a delicious chew tablet form. This costs a small bomb, but if your cat is distressed by the administration of the regular medication (and you are basically fighting with it several times a day and ruining your relationship), the chew tablets are a wonderful alternative. They come in beef, tuna, chicken and liver flavours, and Lighting fell upon them with gusto. Mind you, some cats won’t touch them, so if you are considering using them (they can be formulated for various medications, not just Tapazole), start by asking your vet for some non-medicated ones to try out on your cat, otherwise you may be wasting your money.

To get back to my old girl: Lighting did very well for months, but gradually she lost more weight and became quite dehydrated, so back we went to the vet’s for a spell of IV fluids. At this point, it became clear that she had an underlying condition that was the cause of her wasting away. Diagnosis would have required an ultrasound exam and / or exploratory surgery, and I vetoed all of this for two reasons. It would have costs a great deal of money and, more importantly, it would have discovered a cancer somewhere for which I would have refused any invasive treatment in any case, in view of her age and decrepitude. What about her quality of life, you ask? Precisely! Her quality of life was the envy of many, including me. She still ate heartily: she had access to dry food at all times, and twice a day was given as much canned food as she could shovel down her gullet. I offered a wide range of brands, from vet diets through Old Mother Hubbard to Fancy Feast, with the occasional tin of sardines or large portion of grilled chicken thrown in for variety. The point for me, with an animal that may have not much time to live, is to cease worrying about what is the healthiest diet and focus on enjoyment. Since the cat may reject the “best” diet and need a lot of variety, why not accept that you will not have the time to damage it with a protein rich diet, for example, and simply enjoy the animal’s pleasure as you give it what it prefers. Lighting thus flourished well beyond her vet’s expectations, and I cherish the memory of her head resting on my shoulder as she digested a huge meal while I turned up the volume on Masterpiece Theatre to cover the sound of her purring (she was deaf, but not silent). I was with her when she died, and am grateful that this particular Lemon Grove cat, a little old lady with a wealth of spunk and personality, spent her last months in my home. (June 15, 2005)

For those of you who check the site regularly, here finally is a picture of Lightning on which she looks as pretty as she is in real life. She has been living in my home for several months and is as happy as the day is long. Here she is lolling in a favourite basket and looking as though butter wouldn't melt in her mouth, which is a tad misleading as she has selected one of my cats to hate and goes after the poor creature with relentless hostility. Though middle aged (born in 1991), she is very spry and in fine shape despite her thyroid condition (for which she is easy to medicate). Her odd coloured eyes (one yellow, one blue) are strangely attractive and another good thing about this girl is that she is not afraid of the vacuum cleaner, since she is deaf as a post.

UPDATE October 2004: This spunky old lady has lived with me for many months and is no longer up for adoption, as she is now terminally ill with a growth in her abdomen. Although this sounds awful, and she looks like the wrath of God, having lost a great deal of weight and suffering from dehydration, Lightning is actually doing very well, all things considered. Cortisone is slowing the growth of the tumour and sub-cutaneous fluids are helping the kidneys do their job, and the old girl is eating like a horse, purring happily and still throwing her (small) weight around by dominating the other cats in her room, many of whom are quite intimidated by her. She will not have much longer to live, but rest assured that her quality of life is still very good.

 


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