The Good, The Gruesome

This is probably going to be one of the most difficult posts I write.  I’ll start it off on a happy note.  I warn you – you may not want to read the ugly.  It is gruesome.

THE GOOD:

A little while back I wrote about two kitties at the shelter – Alex and Lucky.  I received a text message last night that they were adopted!  Both kitties left our care and went to their new forever home together!!  I had been worried about Lucky and Alex for months now.  I was relieved to hear that they went to a family with two children whom would grow up with the cats.  The kids were so excited about their new family members!  Many congrats  to my boys, Alex and Lucky!

 

THE GRUESOME:

We have a feral cat colony that lives near the shelter.  Many of the cats are friendly and  volunteers have come to know their personalities and have given them names.  The first cat that ever came up to me when I started volunteering was Momma.  She had huge green eyes that pleaded for attention whenever she looked at you.  Momma was a brown tabby with white on her paws, belly, and muzzle.  Her frame was petite and scrawny, but she never looked unhealthy or underfed.  In fact, she ate like a queen in the colony.

Yesterday afternoon Momma was struck and killed by a car.

When J and I saw her convulsing in the street, we started screaming at the top of our lungs.  J ran into the shelter to get a cat carrier so we could transport her to the vet.  Everything happened in a matter of seconds, even though the images replay in my head in slow motion.  There was so much blood and the rain made it worse.  When J ran to get the carrier, Momma tried to stand but fell to her side, hind legs twitching.  By the time J put her in the carrier, we suspected she had already gone to the Rainbow Bridge, as we couldn’t see her breathing.  The ride to the vet seemed to take eons, although it was only a mile away.  Before getting out of the car, I peeked into the cat carrier.  Momma was a lifeless pile of brown fur, wet with rain and blood.  It was only at this time that I became conscious of the fact that J and I had been crying.  We waited a minute or two for the vet to see us.  A man wearing a yellow t-shirt looked at sympathetically while he walked his dog out of the office.  I focused on holding the vomit in my stomach.  Finally we were brought into the exam room.  To my relief, the attending vet placed a towel over Momma’s head before taking her out of the cat carrier.  When she removed the towel, I stood so my view was obscured by the cat carrier.  The vet confirmed she suffered from a skull fracture and died almost instantaneously.  We had her cremated.

When I got home, I lost it.  I mean really lost it.  I cried so hard and I gave myself a panic attack.  Then I vomited bile.  I called Ron to tell him.  He had to decipher words from a string of incoherent sounds and repeat them back to me so I could confirm.  I couldn’t talk.  I couldn’t breathe.  Every time I closed my eyes, I saw Momma in the street.  And what I saw was so much more graphic and disturbing that what I wrote in the paragraph above.  My head is screwed up enough by the incident.  No need to screw up your head.

I couldn’t sleep last night.  I took five sleeping pills and still had difficulty.  I’ve been around death before, and moreover, I’ve been around cats that have passed to the Rainbow Bridge.  Never has it affected me to this degree.  I start to hyperventilate just thinking about going to the shelter tomorrow morning.  The thought of even entering a car makes me queasy with panic.  Today has consisted of intermittent periods of hysterics.  The memory of Momma in the street has been burned into my mind.  The nightmare replays on an endless loop inside my head.

While I know it was an accident, I can’t help but feel an overwhelming deluge of remorse, anger, and guilt.

Depressed Alex

Last night we had a photoshoot for some of the new cats at the Wayne Petsmart (for Petfinder and Adopt-A-Pet).  My buddy, Alex, was still there.  When he came to the shelter in the beginning of the year, he was such a love bug.  He would meow at me until I pet him and get lots of hugs and kisses. I was sad when he was moved into the Wayne store, but knew he would find a home in no time.  Or so I thought.

SONY DSC

Alex during a photoshoot in April

Shortly after his move, I saw Alex during a photoshoot in Feb/March.  He remembered me and hung out with me while I took pictures.  Some of the other cats made him a little nervous, but he was still the big mush he was at the shelter.  However, I noticed him shaking that night.  I can’t remember Alex shaking at the shelter.  But, then again, I only saw him two-three days a week for a few hours.  Alex went to the vet and we found out he had an old spine injury.  He was placed into foster care while he had a regimen of medications.  I was told that he was so happy and playful in his foster home.  It made me happy to hear that he was doing well!

Then Alex got better.  And he wound up back at the Wayne store.  The foster home didn’t want to keep him, which is their loss because he’s such an awesome cat.  Poor Alex is so depressed now.  I made a comment to Donna last night saying how he looked like Wilson when Wilson was moved into the store.  The store was busy with people looking to adopt cats last night and all the other felines were bouncing off the walls with excitement.  Except Alex.  He stayed in the corner of the room with his head down, not wanting to interact with anyone.  I spent time petting him when our photoshoot was put on hold for a few minutes.  He barely looked at me.  I felt so bad for him.  I really hope he finds a home soon.  Alex doesn’t deserve this.  He’s an awesome cat.

Before we left, I wanted to spend a little more time with him.  I tried to pick him up, but he started growling at me.  I’m not sure if it was because there were other cats around or if it was just the depression talking.  I put him back in his cage and climbed halfway with him.  He turned his back to me after I started petting him.  When I pulled my hand away, he burrowed under his bed.  That’s how he was when we left.  Like he was trying to erase the world around him.

I know my dear Alex is still the love bug I met earlier in the year.  I hate seeing him so depressed.  I hope he finds a forever home soon.

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.