Monday, March 12, 2007


Everyone was minding their business in a post-church, late Sunday afternoon sort of way. The Spouse was working on some carpentry project (which I believe he's chronicling over on his blog), The Child, recently recovered from a day of "very bad tummy" was plugging away at her homework. The Dog was tethered outside so he could be with his Papa and be soaked by the Pineapple Express and The Cat was caught dipping her paw into my glass of milk, licking said paw ever so delicately and nonchalantly, as is the way of cats. And I, when not defending my milk, was playing videos, preparatory to a nice little game of "Age of Empires III".

And then.

The Child heard a strange sound from the family room and upon investigation found The Cat had yarked all over the scanner (which was on the floor and I don't know why). The usual kerfuffle between her and her father ensued: "You clean it up, it's gross"..."You clean it up, you found it" (which is the found it, you deal with it). She grudgingly starts to clean it and then calls for me.

She's found The Cat, lying in the farthest corner of the family room, her mouth open, her breathing very labored. I gently pulled her out and held her on my lap, stroking her and, well, I don't know what else. Willing her to stop it? I'm not known for my veterinary skills. The Child is standing by, face puckered and tears welling and as I turned to calm her The Cat crawled off my lap and back into her "don't let the pack see me like this" spot.

The Child was very emotional, as you'd expect someone to be about the scary behavior of her first ever pet, but she was also keeping her head. She got the phone and dialed our vet, handed the phone to me and went to get The Spouse. As I was getting a number for a near-by-enough animal hospital, she was in the garage, digging out the pet carrier.

The hospital vet said, "Get her in here as soon as you can".

There was a moment. The Child was crying and I was too but I held her and said, "Honey, you know that if this is bad we will have to let kitty go?"

She knew.

We loaded The Cat into her carrier and trust me, she's never gone willingly into it. This time she had no fight. Meanwhile, The Dog was wandering around looking at all of us and trust me on this, too, he knew something was wrong. He wasn't scampering or snuffling and he wasn't barking at The Cat.

With a great pulling-together-of-selves, The Child and I drive The Cat to the animal ER. The Child was in the backseat, monitoring kitty and being brave and occasionally making the "wee ooh wee ooh" sound of an ambulance. Because apparently she's learning that sometimes a little humor can help you cope in a crisis.

Here's the thing. The whole time I'm thinking, "If she's really sick, we put her down". I love my cat but I'm not one of those people who's going to spend a lot of money treating something untreatable. If she was sick and suffering, we would be merciful. I was resolved, prepared. Not so much prepared for the news that the baseline cost just to stabilize the beast was going to be $500. That's right. $500 American dollars. And yeah, I hesitated before signing the authorization form. The Cat had perked up by the time we'd arrived at the hospital, anyway. She was sitting up, no longer breathing through her mouth. Maybe she was just fine.

But of course I let them treat her. Still. Ouch.

Long story longer, they stabilized The Cat. The vet came in to tell me her findings, starting off with "what a sweet cat" she is. At which point I knew she was really sick because our cat is only sweet to the three of us. Everyone else can go to hell. Anyway, x-rays showed some patchy bits on her lungs. It could be anything from a respiratory infection to cancer. Last night's goal was to get her to breathe normally, get her vitals up, check her white cell count (which is normal) and keep her comfortable.

She spent the night at the hospital and I have to go fetch her this morning. I told the vet that I wasn't prepared to pay for the high end of her estimates...blood work and all sorts of other tests that were going to take us well over the $1,000 mark. I'll talk everything over with our vet, who isn't going to charge me the price of a brake job to do some basic kitty blood tests.

There will not be extraordinary measures. I figure, she's either got a touch of something that will be fixed up by antibiotics or she's on her way out. If it's time, it's time. I say that ever so bravely, even as I have already noted her absence this morning and got a little varklempt looking at her frakking cat food. Ridiculous.

Most of the time The Cat is just a kind of wallpaper, sitting on a side table, looking disdainfully through slit eyes at The Dog wagging below her. She's 10 years old. She sleeps at the foot of The Child's bed most of the day. Only ever so occasionally will she come and hop up on a lap and deign to be stroked and admired. Then she's off again on her own cat pursuits and you need not follow, thank you very much.

But she was, she is the first pet we had in this house, The Child's first pet. At the age of 3, just before we moved in she asked, "My new house, me have kitty?"

"Yes, we'll get a kitty".

"My new house, me have a kitty. Kitty name Phoebe".

And so it was.

And I guess if that memory and all sorts of other cat memories have the power to make me blubber like a baby til I can't see my laptop screen, oh well. She's our kitty and we love her. I hope she's going to be ok.



Blogger rosemary opined...

I am so sorry Lorraine and I mean it. I know you haven't read about our trials with Drake our 15 year old kitty, but one surgery at 700 bucks, many follow up visits at a couple of hundred for labs, meds blah, blah...we are still saying we will cut it off at....oh that thousand bucks that passed last year. Kitties are special, they let us love them, are so very self sufficient and so missed when not around. We have 4 cats none of them young anymore. Drake will be 16, we lost Babie at 17, Magic at 14...and have 3 ten year old plus cats still. Give the daughter and Phoebe a kiss for me and I hope it is just a little cold.

March 12, 2007 10:00 AM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Thanks, Rosemary. A lot. Kisses duly delivered and give Drake one for me.

March 12, 2007 10:23 AM  
Blogger jp opined...

I am much more cat person than dog person. Don't tell Charlie.

Let us know what the vet says.

March 12, 2007 11:44 AM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Yeah, JP, I'm more of a cat person, too. I make an exception for The Dog. And his sister. But I can pretty much take or leave the rest of 'em. She's going to see our regular vet later today and maybe we'll know more then.

March 12, 2007 1:23 PM  
Anonymous Bugsy opined...

What about me? Was it because of the tootsie roll last night when I was dining out at your house? Is it because of my tiny tongue loll? I'm old but I thought you still liked me (sad sniff).

March 12, 2007 3:04 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Yes, Bugsy, of course I love you. I didn't mean to forget you...Auntie's just been a little distracted today. I'll come pet your old, tongue lolling head when your mom gets home from work.

March 12, 2007 3:08 PM  
Blogger Iwanski opined...

Best wishes from our cats to yours.

March 12, 2007 3:41 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Thanks, Iwanski. I was thinking of you when The Child went to clean up the cat yark yesterday. But then it stopped being funny. Tell your cats thanks, too.

March 12, 2007 4:15 PM  
Blogger gina opined...

Now I'm going to be checking your blog 100 times a day tomorrow waiting for a cat update. I love cats so much, and the thought of yours being sick - and maybe too sick - makes me cry. I am praying she's just got a bug and will get well. From your description, she behaves just like mine. From the picture, she looks exactly like my cat before this cat, who lived with me in San Francisco, San Antonio, Colorado Springs, and here, and then went to Heaven. I really, really want her to get well! Tell The Child I'm praying extra hard for her.

March 12, 2007 6:34 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Thanks, dear Gina. This has been a really emotional day. We've got St. Francis praying for her, too. He loved the critters. She's such a lovely's very hard to see her not herself. Love you.

March 12, 2007 7:15 PM  
Blogger jLow opined...

Miss Phoebe is in my prayers.

And silly or not, the furry little varmints have a way of making themselves just another child in the home. So when the Hanker Dog boards at the vet clinic, I always sign the line that says "cost is not an issue if anything should happen."

"Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble."

March 13, 2007 7:19 AM  
Anonymous MHP :) opined...

Lorraine, I have been catching up on my favorite bloggers and just read this and also today's (Wednesday's) Lenten post.

As for the cat, I am so sorry and hope she gets better soon!! Our cats are my first "real" pets (John & I had a hamster when we were first married, and I even cried a little when she died!), so I know I'll be a mess when our cats die. But when you described how your cat is normally “just a kind of wallpaper, sitting on a side table,” really resonated with me. Our cats are always around, but I think sometimes I take them for granted. I shall pay them extra special attention tonight. :)

And as for Lent, it also resonated with me when you talked about not being impatient for little things, but being impatient for BIG things. I feel like that often. I mean, I really love my life now, but there are definitely things I look forward to having in the future, and sometimes I get impatient for those things. And sometimes I also get impatient and frustrated not knowing already what the meaning of life is! *smile* Oh, well, I'm sure many others share that frustration...

Thanks for reminding me that we all share these very human experiences--grieving for a sick pet and trying to be patient for the big things in life. :)

-MHP :)

March 14, 2007 6:27 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Hi MHP! Hope you're fully recovered! I get all giggly when something I say "resonates" with someone else...sometimes I think that's my job...saying out loud what everyone else is thinking. We are all really so much more alike than we are different.

I guess there's a difference, too, between hoping and's ok to hope for things in the future (like little least, that's what I'm hoping for) but when we get so caught up in the waiting that we fail to appreciate the present, something is wrong.

Love those kitties good. It probably means more to you than it does to those self-sufficient beasts but this whole thing with Phoebe has really taught me the importance of loving the creatures (human and otherwise) in my life NOW.

March 14, 2007 6:54 PM  

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