Friday, July 16, 2010
RIP Madeleine, 1995-2010
I am bone-crushingly tired and just plain worn out. It's been crazy these past few weeks; a real roller coaster of emotions and stressors. And today I am just worn out.
First thing this morning I headed up to the vet's to say goodbye to my sweet little Maddie, who was simply the most lovable little thing I've ever known. This was supposed to happen last night after work, but some complete asshat got in an accident and the traffic was terrible and I was late. I guess. I mean, they were supposed to be there until 6:30, yet I arrived at 6:18 to a dark and closed-up-tighter-than-a-drum animal hospital.
Which completely set me off on a crying jag, as my sweet little kitty now had to spend yet another night caged and funnel-collared, alone in a scary place.
Anyway, I went up this morning and they brought her to me, and I tucked her up on my shoulder, under my chin, and petted and soothed her until she relaxed, recognized me, and started up with the purring. Smelling of sickness and urine - but underneath that, of herself. I breathed deeply of her one last time; we had ourselves a confab for a bit, then Awesome Doc came in and sedated Mads. She fell deeply asleep in my arms, sighing into it one last time, while I put the pats on her the entire time.
Then came the final shot to the heart, and it was over just like that.
I'd had Maddie fifteen years ... rescued her from the ASPCA in Edison, NJ, back in 1995, when she was about 6 months old. She'd been picked up after having been hit by a car in the dead of Winter. Lost most of her tail and the tips of her ears to frostbite. I had been recruited to adopt her because she was too ugly (!!! I ask you, look at that picture and tell me, was she ugly?!? NO!! she was ADORABLE) and had been there a few months with no interested parties (she was said to be feral).
Of course I took her! Benny and Joey were three, and we had recently lost our rescued Persian, Tia, to some incurable unknown horror show. I knew the boys would be fine with another feline ... just didn't know how long it would take this newbie to warm up.
Got her home, prepped the bedroom for her (rule of thumb for introducing new cats: keep them separated in their own room a week, allowing for interaction under the door with the rest of the pets) ... she would have none of it and had escaped into the living room with the boys within the hour. Within a half hour, really.
They fell in love with her right away. No hissing. No spitting (from any of them). From then on, if one cat was sleeping anywhere, the other two were piled around. Maddie never once exhibited typical feral cat behavior: she loved people and attention immediately, and was extremely vocal right from the start.
She moved to RI with me, then out here to MO, and I was fully planning on taking her back home to New England with me, but it was not to be.
And maybe that's okay. All the kitty-siblings she came out here with (Benny, Joey, and Annie, our adopted barn cat) have died here in MO ... my Maddie's spirit certainly will not be lonely!
It's just the shock of it all ... I had plenty of time to prepare for both Benny and Joey, who had thyroid issues that slowly burned them out. Annie was sudden and completely unexpected. But Maddie was fine; she's never been sick a day in her life, and only ever been to the vet to be spayed 11 years ago. I went on vacation and when I came back ten days later she was gravely ill. Gravely. Hadn't eaten, scabs all over her body, pulling her own fur out in an effort to scratch some itch.
The first hospitalization seemed to go well; she got steroids and antibiotics and started eating and talking at me. She was home three days, going strong, then just stopped eating on the fourth day.
While taking steroids ... which should have made her ravenous. She weighed 7.2 lbs last week, and 6.5 lbs yesterday. Almost a 10% weight loss. In a week. When she should have gained weight. With all the tests and whatnot, Awesome Doc couldn't figure it out. Said she's only seen something like it once before, and hadn't ever figured that out either.
The second hospitalization did not go so well. They had to put the funnel collar on her, she was digging into her belly so bad. They had to hydrate her sub-q, because she started vomiting everything she drank. They tried to feed her, but she wasn't interested. And still all her tests came back negative, with only a slightly elevated white blood count.
I feel guilty. If I weren't moving back to New England shortly, I may have had Awesome Doc try more. But. I couldn't bring Maddie with me into temporary housing like I had planned - she'd not have survived the trip. And I couldn't leave her here under a sitter's care - that's asking too much, and the sitter didn't notice a problem the first time around (not her fault ... two dogs and four cats are difficult to watch when they're not yours and you don't know everything about them). And I can't afford to hospitalize her.
I couldn't stand the thought of her steadily getting worse; I knew my responsibility to this little one I have cherished, and that wasn't to turn my back on a difficult situation and hope it went away.
So I said goodbye to my little cat this morning, and I'm feeling blue. As my big brother said, it's been a rough year for cats over here. But I'm positive Joey met her at the Gate, and took her off in search of Ben and Annie. They're all sharing one huge succulent salmon right about now. Or maybe roast beef ... the kids did so love roast beef.