Full Circle

RE: Apollo

On Friday, a package was waiting for us in the hallway.  Neither Ron nor I had ordered anything, so we were curious as to what it was.  I showed the box to Ron.

“That’s not Apollo, is it?” he asked.

I shrugged.  The receptionist at the emergency vet said that Apollo’s ashes would be shipped to the vet’s office and that it would take two weeks.  Carefully, I placed the box on our kitchen table and sliced open the packing tape with a box cutter.  Green foam popcorn spewed over the tabletop.  A dark cherry box wrapped in bubble wrap was inside with a certificate.  It was Apollo.

Ron held her for a little while.  When he was finished, we put her ashes next to Juno’s.

Eventually, we’re going to get a few small tabletop easels and lucite display boxes so we can properly show off the clay paw prints next to each appropriate urn.  Morpheus’ paw prints have been sitting on a shelf in our kitchen for the past two-and-a-half years.  They have gotten dirty with dust.  We don’t want further damage to occur, as each set of paw prints is irreplaceable.

Regarding Lucky

SONY DSC

Lucky The Cat, a month after rehabilitation

Lucky has been doing amazing since he first arrived at the shelter.  The weight is slowly coming on, and he’s been exploring a lot lately.  When I pick him up, he’s not as bony.  I don’t feel like I’m cuddling a faberge egg on the verge of breaking.  He’s a very special boy.  Lucky is going to save someone soon, I know.  Yet, I am a little saddened at the thought of him leaving.  Rationally, it is the best thing possible for him, finding a forever home that will spoil him rotten and treat him like a little prince.  After all the time and emotion I’ve invested in his recovery, I am finding myself protective, like Wilson.

This past weekend, Lucky was awarded the START II Post-Caturday Shelter Award for Most Talkative.  He was chatting away all morning Sunday, rolling around on his back and letting out little purr-meows.  Each time I asked him a question, he came to the front of his cage and meowed at me.  Once he vocalized his answer, he proceeded to rub against the cage doors until I opened them to pet him.  I love him so much.

Regarding Wobbles

Wobbles recovering

Wobbles recovering

Wobbles (April) is such a ham.  She has really come around in the past week.  Now when she sees volunteers, she meows and purrs at them.  I spent a bit of time with her yesterday.  Wobbles was so excited to have so much attention that she kept flopping over and showing her belly.  She couldn’t sit still!  I gave her lots of pets and kisses.  The wound on her neck is healing nicely.  It’s scabbed and I’m sure it itches.  It makes me itchy just to look at it.  Nonetheless, it looks worse than what it really is.  I managed to snap a picture of her on my cell phone.  She was a little frightened by the phone when I stuck it in her cage, so I was only able to get one.  I can’t express how happy I am that Wobbles is inside under our strict care, rather than outside fending for herself.

Dearly Departed

The past couple of days have felt surreal, where time seems melt in lumpy globs, like burning wax.  Apollo is gone.  While I may not have been as close to her as Ron, the loss is still painful.

The steroid didn’t work.  We tried feeding her num nums (wet food) on Friday and Saturday.  Apollo sniffed at it and started dry-heave.  This happened during all accounts when food was presented to her.  There was a complete 180-degree change in her behavior from when I had her to the vet on Thursday to the weekend.  Ron made an appointment for 8am Monday morning to have her put to sleep.

Sunday I was volunteering at START II all morning.  Ron was working.  When I got home, I found Apollo on the couch.  She was cold and barely moving.  Bloody bile stains surrounded her on the towels I put down on the couch for protection.  Morpheus vomited like this once the morning we put him to sleep.  It was scary to see it then.  By the pattern of the stains, it looked like Apollo vomited bloody bile at least four times.  A chill came over me.  I knew she wouldn’t last until her appointment in the morning.  I also knew that if she wasn’t put to sleep that evening, her death would be excruciating.  I’ve seen cats suffer from liver failure and starvation.  No matter what way you look at it, death is never glamorous or beautiful.   It’s a messy business, a gaping maw of abysmal suffering.

I spoke to Ron and we agreed we would bring her back to the emergency vet when he was finished with work.  I spent about 8 hours tending to Apollo.  At some point she tried to jump off the couch to go for a drink of water.  Her legs gave out from beneath her.  Fatigue incapacitated her movements.   I filled a shallow bowl and brought it to the couch.  Apollo rested her cheek on the side of the bowl, but did not drink.  When she moved her head back to the couch, the white porcelain was stained reddish-brown.  I picked her up and let her lay on my chest.  I almost fell asleep petting her, but she threw up more bloody bile.  I changed the towels twice so either of us wouldn’t be sitting in the stuff and used a damp washcloth to wipe vomit off her paws, chin, and chest.  She was throwing up all over herself.

By the time we brought her to the emergency vet, she was hardly moving.  I held it together pretty well up until this point.  I had a couple of short crying outbursts in private over the weekend.  However, the gravity of the situation weighed on me differently at the vet, knowing we were minutes away from putting our 15-year-old friend to sleep.  I lost it.

Ron and I had as much time as we needed to say our goodbyes.  I had only experienced the “process” of putting a loved one to sleep through our primary vet.  I wasn’t sure what to expect in the ER.  Luckily, everyone operated with the level of compassion and understanding that I was used to from Animal General.  Ron held her and I pet her head while she was administered the medicines.  We received clay paw prints from the ER that evening.  Her ashes should arrive in two weeks.  All of our cats have had private cremation.

Last night I was plugging in my cell phone in the bedroom.  I had just responded to a text and I saw a small black cat walk toward me.  When I bent down to pet him, there wasn’t a cat there.  I looked under the bed, and nothing.  I could have sworn that Orlox was just there.  I looked in the living room to find him a deep sleep on the perch of the cat condo.  It was obvious he was there the entire time.  We don’t have any other black cats.

Ron got home from work.  I was still standing in the bedroom with my hand covering my open mouth, near hysterics.  When I reiterated the experience to him, he said it was probably Apollo and I should feel honored she paid me a visit.  I can neither confirm nor deny that shadowy feline figure was Apollo.  To entertain the possibility it was, well, that makes me feel a smidge better about our dearly departed.

Diagnosis Unknown, Rapid Deterioration

Ron and I were trying to plan our schedules to take Apollo in for a senior health checkup this week.  Recently, she’s lost a lot of weight.  Both of us know that rapid weight loss in a cat is not good and there’s usually a serious underlying cause.  Even though we haven’t been home 24/7 to monitor her eating habits, we thought it may have been possible that Apollo had hyperthyroidism.

Wednesday afternoon, Apollo wasn’t herself.  She spent most of the afternoon curled on the couch with Ishtar.  Although this may not seem out of the ordinary, she just didn’t look right.  It’s hard to explain.  But every pet guardian knows in their gut when something is wrong with one of their furry friends.  I got that gut feeling.  Apollo perked up a little bit when I talked to her, but not much.  Ron also concurred that something was wrong.  We were going to make an appointment for the following morning, instead of Friday.

Just before Ron and I were getting ready for bed, we noticed Apollo lying on her side in the dining room.  It looked like she was on her way to the food dish, but ran out of steam before getting there.  Ron gently picked her up and placed her in front of the bowl.  Apollo sniffed at the food, then started to dry heave.  She sorta staggered back a bit, tilted her head to the side, and flopped over.  Apollo was responsive and we rushed her to the emergency vet.

At the emergency vet, Apollo was giving sub Q fluids, a vitamin injection, and anti-nausea medication.  The attending vet thought that maybe she had an electrolyte imbalance.  It would explain Apollo’s weird head tilt.  Results from her basic blood work panel didn’t show any abnormalities, so the vet told us she would fax over all her notes to our primary veterinarian.  We were still taking Apollo in the morning.

I brought Apollo to Animal General at 11:30am.  She was relatively quiet in the car and waiting room.  Normally, she is pretty vocal.  Doctor Z noticed her weight loss immediately, as well as the head tilt.  A series of physical tests were administered – to check her eyesight, hearing, and brain.  Doctor Z said that it looked like she had a stroke, but nothing would be able to be confirmed until we took her to a neurologist for an MRI.  She also told us that it could be possible that there’s a problem with the liver causing neurological problems.  Doctor Z took more blood for a comprehensive in-house panel, then a liver test, and finally urinalysis.

We got the test results back today.  The liver test confirmed that there was something wrong with her liver.  However, there wasn’t enough information to determine the cause or exactly what it was.  The problem with the liver could be primary or secondary, and there was no way to tell for sure until Apollo had an ultrasound of her liver and an MRI.  Overnight, Apollo refused to eat.  She didn’t eat this morning either.  Ron called the vet back to discuss other options.  Something needed to be done within the next 24 hours.

Ron just called me from the vet’s office.  Doctor M was with her.  When Doctor M tried to feed her she refused.  Apollo spit out all of the food when Doctor M tried to syringe feed her.  Ron said that we were gonna try steroids to spark her appetite.  We would see a difference within 12-24 hours (we saw this when Morpheus stopped eating).  It wouldn’t be a cure, but it would buy more time to discover the underlying cause.  He also said that Doctor May was distressed about Apollo’s behavior; it was like she stopped caring and gave up on life.  She is rapidly deteriorating

If the steroids don’t work, we will need to put her to sleep Monday morning.

Kitty Crazies Post Tricky Tray

Last night START II held its 8th Annual Tricky Tray.  It was a lot of hard work, but the end result was successful and gorgeous!  Since I was helping set up and selling tickets in the evening, I was out of the apartment by 7:30am.  Ron drove me to the venue before 9am.  He then went home quick then went to work.  After work, he drove back to the venue and schmoozed with family, friends, and volunteers.  We didn’t get home until after midnight.

This was the first time Prometheus, Boots, and Icarus had been home alone all day.  I worried about them periodically throughout the day and well into the evening.  When we came home, all of the cats were happy to see us.  Prometheus greeted us at the door with his funny, high-pitched meow and flopped against our legs.  Even Boots let out a vocal greeting and followed me around.  Everyone else pretty much waited at the food bowl.

After everyone finished eating, a massive outbreak of kitty crazies ensued.  I’m used to kitty crazies in small doses – usually at most 3 cats at a time (and right when I’m trying to get to sleep).  But this episode of crazies was the mother of all crazy episodes.  Prometheus ran from room to room meowing.  Icarus chased him, sometimes distracted by a toy.  Castiel unleashed a series of bunny kicks and attacks on the bathroom carpet.  Ishtar chased a piece of carpet from the cat perch.  She then proceeded to meow at it then run away with her back arched and tail curled (that’s my pudgy little princess!).  Orlox desperately wanted “mommy time,” but Boots kept chasing him.  Pandora was determined to catch water drops from the faucet.  Even Apollo had old lady crazies, chasing a fuzzy toy.

When Ron and I went to sleep, they all still had crazies.  I was too exhausted to care and fell asleep.  I awoke this morning to all of them still with crazies.  Today I wasn’t greeted by sunshine peeking through the blinds in the bedroom window.  Nope.  I was awoken by Prometheus running across the bed, backside flopping, ear back, meowing his funny meow.  He ran over me full speed, then jumped off the bed, ran underneath, then came back to do it again.  I blocked him from running across my stomach this time and, instead, he ran across my legs.

Boots was still trying to catch Orlox at 10am.  Pandora, Ishtar and Apollo finally settled down on the couch, but boys were wild until early this afternoon.

Finally, they’re all napping!  We’ll see how long that lasts.