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".
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 rule...you 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?"
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.
Labels: all creatures great and small