So he hasn't always been the healthiest of cats. In his younger days, he had some major skin irritation that flared up at the back of his neck and occasioned his first emergency vet visit many years ago and a surgery that proved to be inconclusive as to what the source of the irritation was. It left my cat with his first scar, an irregular bald patch between his shoulder blades that would still get mildly irritated, but not like that one scary night I found him meowing from pain with a huge open sore there. Things didn't get scary again until two years ago, when my husband had to take him in for surgery again, for removal of bladder stones, and I came home from my in-laws' to this sight:
|It was still hurricane season. I called his collar the cat cone of uncertainty.|
Eventually the cat warmed to Dan, too, but when Dan took him in for the surgery, he didn't need to ask me to know if he should do so or not. Despite my husband's cat allergies, he knew how important the cat was to all of us, especially me. I'd had him from when he was two months old and my ex-boss rescued him from a neighborhood crack house where - she learned later - if the litter of the cat's brothers and sisters that was still there weren't placed in other homes, they would've been put into a trash bag and hauled out to the curb for the sanitation crews to take them away. I didn't intend to keep him, but he was mine from the second he climbed on my bed, found my hip, and took a long snooze on it.
But last Tuesday, when I came home, I could tell my cat wasn't feeling well at all. I'd never seen him looking that bad. He wasn't breathing well, and his ears felt cold. He hadn't moved from his spot on the floor by his water dish since that morning. It looked bleak, and I started to mentally prepare myself to let him go. He'd had a good 12 years or so on this earth, this big cat baby. If the tests showed he was in decline, then it was best for him to go to his rest...
...but he rallied the next morning. His blood work was good. There was color coming back to his paws and his gums. He even tried to groom himself, they said. I dropped him off to his regular vet with hope in my heart and turned my car towards the east coast to the hotel I'd be staying in for three nights while I visited NASA.
After my trip down there, I am now firmly convinced of one thing: any navigation skills I might have once possessed before I married Dan are now nearly lost. My husband called me while I was still on the road and asked where I was. "You're where?" he asked incredulously.
Hey, it could happen to you, too, if you mixed up I-95 with I-75:
I am amazed I found Florida. Honestly.
The other reason for the phone call, aside from chiding me for going all the way to Tampa, was that my cat had taken a turn for the worse. Dan was in Mandeville with the vet who had done the bladder stone surgery. My big fluffy orange guy had already stopped breathing once and was on life support. It was a respiratory illness he'd contracted, and even though his blood work was still good, it was highly likely he'd be brain-damaged after having suffered one cardiac arrest. I had to make the decision - on the road, while I was trying to extricate myself from my bad navigation decisions - to keep him alive or let him go.
I got to my hotel late at night with a heavy heart. I couldn't let him suffer any longer.
My vet was upset. My in-laws sent me condolences. And I came home after my trip to a cat-less house. I miss my fluffy baby.
Rest in peace, my Leo.