And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.
So now I’ve discovered that it’s very, very hard to focus on writing about a moment of happiness when your cat is in the ICU at the emergency vet clinic. However, I can assure you now that this story will have a reasonably happy ending, at least for now, so don’t be afraid to read on.
My cat, Edgar Allen Paw, also known as Eddie, Eddie Freddy, Eddie-grrrrr, Mr. Ed, and Bowling Ball, is 14 years old. He’s a polydactyl, meaning he has extra toes, and he also has an extra kink in his tail, a head that is too small for his body, and balance issues. Our vet calls him a genetic anomaly. We call him a sweetheart.
I noticed on Christmas Eve that he didn’t react to his traditional new catnip mouse. On Christmas day, he didn’t come down for the festivities, but he did come down after the hubbub was done. The day after Christmas, he seemed to always be in the big bed under my desk. And by the 27th, I noticed he wasn’t coming downstairs at all, he wasn’t eating or drinking, and when he did walk, which was only a few feet, he wobbled. Yesterday, when my regular vet office was too full to bring him in, I brought him to the emergency vet. I ended up leaving him there. The vet said they wanted to run an ultrasound, after seeing some of his bloodwork. The ultrasound would show if he had pancreatitis, kidney (renal) disease, or cancer. While the tests cost pretty big bucks, that I really shouldn’t be spending, I just couldn’t move ahead to helping Edgar to the other side, when there was a chance he could be treated and come home.
So today, waiting for the results, was a long day. And it’s why this blog is so late.
When my cat Cornelius, Corny for short, died of a fast-moving cancer 13 years ago, I set out to find another cat. It’s not about replacement; I sincerely believe in honoring a pet’s memory by saving another life. I put myself through college by working as a kennelworker at the local humane society, so I know firsthand the sadness of animals left behind. When Corny died, my remaining cat, Muse, was 6 years old. I wanted to find another 6-year old cat, as Corny was significantly older than Muse, and I thought it would help long-term if we had cats that were in the same stage of life. One of our local humane societies had two cats that were six, so I went in.
When I went into the cat room, a big orange tabby on the bottom shelf of cages pressed himself fervently against the door. I bent down to say hello and have a conversation. As best I could, I scrubbed his ears and under his chin. His purr sounded like a train rolling by with square wheels. No rhythm. He offered plenty of silent meows. But he was only a year old, so I gave him a final pat and stood to search out the two six-year olds.
But that orange cat stuck his paw through the bars of his cage and snagged his claws into my pant leg.
What could I do?
The shelter had given the cat the name of Trivium, who was the muse of grammar, weirdly enough. I went to the front desk and said, “I’d like to see Trivium please.” The shelter worker said, “Of course, but be aware that he’s shy. He might not come to you right away.”
I laughed and said, “Like hell. He just chose me.”
They also told me that Edgar had been found as a kitten on the side of a highway in Washington County. He had a collar, but no identifiers. He stayed in the humane society there for six months, then, when they were over-full, they sent him to one of our humane societies, where he remained for another four months. Almost a full year in a shelter.
He came home that day, and by bedtime that night, his name was changed to Edgar Allen Paw.
With extra toes, an extra kink, and a too-small head, he’s been anything but typical. He doesn’t jump up on things because he will inevitably fall off. He has a huge appetite. And he is more than loving. Cats are supposed to ignore you. Not Edgar. He demands attention…from me, Michael, Olivia, from Muse, from the beagles when they were still with us, and from Ursula.
To leave him at the emergency vet yesterday…to see him unable to walk with his hind legs…to realize he might not be coming home…devastating. It’s been a day of tears and memories.
“Remember when Edgar…”
“Remember when Eddie…”
Thirteen years of memories.
And it’s also been a day of self-doubt. Should I be spending the exorbitant amount that I am just to determine if he lives or dies? What if I spent all that and ended up, not with recovery, but with no orange kitty at all?
What an awful, awful day.
But then, a phone call.
Edgar is coming home. Again.
The ultrasound didn’t show anything too alarming. The most likely culprit is kidney disease, which means he could decline rapidly, or he could live for years. We’ve dealt with kidney disease before, in one cat (Einstein) and two dogs (Penny and Blossom). He has regained the use of his back legs. He’s purring like a broken train again and the vet says he’s “bright and alert.” She also said repeatedly, “I love him. What a good boy!”
Yes, he is.
And while I’m going to worry and fret, ultimately, this was money well-spent. Because I heard the vet say to me, “No, Kathie. It’s not time to put him down yet. Not yet.”
My moment of happiness? That phone call. And there’s a moment to come: when he is carried out to me and I can see for myself that he’s bright and alert and using his hind legs.
I love him. What a good boy!
And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.